I wanted to share a thought with you that occurred to me while writing my previous post about the play I saw last Friday night. As I entered the lobby of the Bartell Theatre to pick up my tickets at the will-call window, one of the folks who works with StageQ greeted me as if they knew me. That’s because, in a professional and volunteer sense, they did know me — Male Mode Me.
Now, I won’t single out who this person is, nor their specific role in the play (which isn’t germane to this topic) and the name of the company we’re both employed at. What I will say, though, is that they and I work for the same business here in Madison. We don’t work in the same department and we were usually on different floors of our building, meaning we didn’t get to pass by or converse with each other too often. (I’ll get to the reason for those past tenses momentarily.) But when I did some volunteering for StageQ a year ago, they almost immediately recognized me, and I had to put two and two together for a second before realizing… oh, my gosh, they’re from work! And in a roundabout way, they learned from me about this blog. And if they’re reading this… uh, hello there! And, seriously, you do really great work.
But to the use of “were” and “didn’t” above: When I made my way into the lobby, there they were greeting me by my (male) first name. They smiled, I smiled back, and they said to me, “I haven’t seen you in a while.” I felt a little embarrassed by their remark, thinking, unfortunately, of the fact that I haven’t had the opportunity to volunteer with StageQ lately, although I do look forward to doing so again. As I was acknowledging the “long time, no see” thing, they said, “Yeah, I haven’t seen you in a while because I’m working at home now.”
When they said that, I gave them an understanding look and a truly sincere “good for you” remark. And though they didn’t get into the reasons or reasoning for working at home, I imagine it’s now a convenient thing for them, and for anyone else who also works from the comfort of their own domicile. Really, who wouldn’t want the chance to work from home?
Well, uh, not me.
I mean, yeah, it would be convenient and cost efficient to not have to drive to work every morning and just walk a few feet to your desk instead. But I have some reasons for actually getting out of the house to drive to work. The first reason is the duties I actually do for a living, or more precisely, the sensitive information I handle and distribute on a daily basis. How sensitive? Well, if they’re sent out to the wrong people or land in the wrong hands, our company could get into a heap of trouble. Which is why our company finds it best that such information be sent from the office and not from home.
Then there is the fact that if I were to stay at home and work for a living, I would go stir crazy. I’ve always been one to think the home is the place where you live, eat, sleep, do housework, and, yeah, write a blog. And though I’ve always considered myself a homebody, I do appreciate getting out of the house every once in a while, be it a shopping trip, a sightseeing excursion, a support meeting… or a 40-hour work week. Home is nice to come home to at the end of the day, but not nice to be cooped up in every day.
What’s more, I like the human connection. Which is strange for me to say a little bit since I like a little bit of distraction-free solitude (and, if available, high cubicle walls) to let me concentrate on my work. But for someone like me who lives alone, the loneliness factor would multiply if I were to work at home. And no bigger an expert knows this than my mom. She doesn’t get down to Madison very often (she’s seen my apartment only once), but she’s known me longer than anyone else, and she knows I perform and feel happier at work if I’m in the presence of other human beings. In other words, Mom knows I work better with other people around me.
Now, you’re probably wondering, “Gee, Allison, if you did work at home, you’d get to wear anything you’d like. A casual shirt, jeans, bare feet… and, need we suggest, a blouse and skirt?” Well, you’re right, that would be a side benefit of working at home. But then, I can’t help but think dressing up as Allison would be a distraction to the duties I must perform in male mode. Just as a blouse and skirt remind me that I can be feminine, a regular button-down shirt, tie, and slacks remind me that I must be professional and concentrate on work.
So, now you know my reasons for actually going to work instead of working from home. While folks like my above mentioned colleague and even a couple of people on my immediate team probably enjoy the work-at-home life (and I won’t deny them their right to be happy with how and where they do their work), I don’t mind heading to the office every weekday. It’s because of the duties, it’s because of the concentration on work, it’s because of my professionalism… and it’s because of the interpersonal connections I’ve built up in my soon-to-be 15 years at my place of employment. See, I’ve built quite a few professional partnerships in my time there, with those who have since departed the company and those who, like me, have stuck around through thick and thin. Seeing them every day (and seeing those work-at-homers who pay the office a visit) reminds me of the professional bonds we’ve built and will hopefully maintain if we were to move on.