Sorry, Marissa, I'm Staying Home
There have been many times over the years that I was happy that I did not/do not work for Yahoo. I wasn't even happy being a shareholder, because no matter who did what, the value just kept going down. So it was with the same hopeful, nearly universal curiosity that I greeted the hiring of Marissa Mayer, since she had been the West Coast "IT" girl for a while, and I figured she couldn't screw it up any more than the four or five CEOs of the male persuasion who preceded her.
I was OK with Marissa giving everybody free food and new smartphones and a new home page that looks suspiciously like a combination of Buzzfeed, Mail Online and HuffPo. But this week, she ordered the at-home workers to get their butts back to the office "to foster collaboration." One can only deduce from this that Marissa's baby must never have slept through the night, making her work-at-home experience pure hell -- so if she didn't enjoy it, then none of the other Yahootters can either.
However, having worked mostly at home for about three decades, I can tell you there is a lot to be said for it. First and foremost, it is not the office. You know, that place where people call endless meetings to circle-jerk over issues great and small --from the direction of the company to who is leaving behind a mess in the fridge -- thus cutting down on the time you can actually do some work. Then there are the pointless human resources confabs on sensitivity, which have simply shifted sexist and racial jokes from the phone to email, from the coffee room to the smoking area outside. The gossip, smells from the takeout being eaten at the next cubicle over, the tension created by passive-aggressive managers, the commute in bad weather, having to "share" the bathroom with others, farewell "parties," fire drills, walk-throughs by the brass -- and, worst of all, cover-yer-ass conversations in the conference room.
Everyone thinks the big attraction of working at home is that you get to sit at the computer in your pajamas. That might work in the summer, but I gotta tell you, these days when the autoset thermostat sees it is "the work day" and knocks the temp back to 62 until 7 p.m., sweats are a better bet. Besides, they are perfectly fine at the post office and the grocery store (as long as they aren't the ones with the hole in the crotch).
In an office, you have to be really vigilant about what is on your LCD screen. After all, you are supposed to be working -- not one-click shopping on Amazon or looking at the porn pix that your buds send by email. When they say don't open attachments because it is a "security" issue, they mean job security, not viruses. Also you have to work extra hard to hide all the porn pix at the office. Fair warning: stop putting them in the Six-Month Sales Projections file, because one day while you are at lunch and the boss is screaming for "the numbers" -- well, you know the rest. At home you can watch porn from bevel to bevel, even killing time during conference calls with the office. You can have a topless Jessica Chastain as your screensaver (as long as you revert back to the shot of the family at the Grand Canyon when school is out).
I suppose plopping in front of the TV is a temptation for some (although it doesn't seem to concern anybody that the CEO has three screens running in his office). But when you realize how hard it is to find anything decent to watch in prime time, much less at 10 in the morning, you pretty much go back to the Internet porn.
One of the biggest benefits of working at home is that you can do everything during "off hours." Just as the subway or commuter train or highway is jammed at certain hours, so too are the local market, the gym and CVS. But they all have separate rhythms that you have to learn and work around. For example, you do NOT want to hit the gym in the late morning hours because all the housewives have just got out of Pilates and are hanging around the Nautilus chatting. Nor do you want to go at lunch because that's when one of those "trainers" who has a GED in phys ed and wears his cap backwards chats up his client while he rests between sets, meaning he ties up the machine for 20 or so minutes.
The post office is out of bounds at lunch as well, because that's when that guy who has 285 pieces of commercial mail has to have each stamped at the window. Or that's when the little old lady takes 25 minutes pondering if she will get $2 of the stamps with the birds or the stamps with the flowers.
Frankly, there is never a good time to go to CVS. The pharmacist feels the need to chat up everyone in front of you in line, meaning it takes a half hour to pick up a prescription -- and no matter how many folks they put on the registers, there’s always a line that looks like Duke students waiting for UNC tickets.
But you can avoid the post-workday rush hour at the gas station and the grocery and the dry cleaner. And since you have your company-issued smartphone with you, no one need know you are standing waiting for the gas pump to approve your credit card.
Oh, and about work, you just kinda squeeze it in between chatting with the postman (sorry about Saturdays, dude!), the home repair guy (how much???) and watching your cute neighbor run past your house every day at exactly 3 p.m.