Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Is this because I've been referring to myself as a shut-in?

I've been working on a post for a little while about the ambivalence I feel about telecommuting, and those nice folks at Web Worker Daily have beat me to the punch. They note a post in lifehack.org about the isolation that's possible from working at home. Vishal P. Rao, the lifehack poster, writes about how being home all the time, espeically with a spouse who's home too, can make your social circle dwindle.

In my case, not only am I a shut-in, but we've also moved across the country to be close to our family. On the one hand, this means that I've got a built in group of friends, and as I genuinely love my in-laws, they really do function as friends. Okay, "function as friends" just sounds dopey. They actually are friends, as is my dear friend M. who was here in the Land of Enchantment waiting for me.

This said, I do miss the energizing effect of seeing people who aren't related to me, like I did when I worked in the Real Office, though. It is a strange paradox: on the one hand, people are irritating. They're prone to asking me for help with stuff that isn't my job any more because I used to do training and customer support, and because I've been around long enough that I know a lot. They are often talking about stupid things and want to rope me into a conversation about American Idol contestants and whatnot.

But they also keep me in touch with things that are outside my own immediate interests and workload. I get a lot out of hearing about other people's work, because it lets me know about the larger world of what it is my office is doing. It's more than just "watercooler" type stuff, it's really getting ideas about other people's lives, what they're involved in at church, how their children are doing.

These things are important -- they give a richness to my relationships at work and help me understand what is motivating my coworkers in a real way. This is more than "Office Retreat" touchy-feely crap. I get a lot of benefit from knowing different people and learning about what else they do outside of the office. And that is harder to do from 2000 miles away.

I'm just saying.

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