These days I work from home. I used to work in our main office. I had a cubicle with a desk and a phone. Even then, I traveled a lot, so I wasn’t at my desk more than once a week or so. Since I was hardly there, I was the low man on the totem pole (at least as far as cubicles were concerned). I went through three cubicles in less than three months. It wasn’t that I was wearing them out, I would get moved around as new people were hired that were working in the office all the time. I would find this out when I would show up and almost sit in someone’s lap.
No matter where it was, my cubicle did double duty. I sat there sometimes, but mostly it was used as storage. It was also the guest cubicle and the first place people would look for office supplies. I had a stapler for awhile. I also had pens and markers. I even had a chair. However, while I was gone, these got substituted with the empty bottles from the water cooler, anywhere between six and ten old cups of coffee and a full basket of trash.
Despite all of this, I did put in a good faith effort to be productive in the office. It wasn’t easy though. I have an office line that hasn’t worked in three years. You pick up the receiver and I can hear calls just fine, but no one can hear me. Every six months or so, someone remembers this and “gets right to work on it”, but then they get bored, promoted, die; something prevents them from getting around to actually fixing it. I do have a cell phone. I’ve never had a computer at my desk in the office. I did – for awhile – have an ancient monitor that was even too screwed up to be put in the server closet. I ended up shunting that aside by the water bottles. I do have a laptop, so – technically – I was still all right.
Our office is a noisy place. The phone system will ring one phone, then several phones around the office and then every phone in the office. The cubicle walls are not exactly soundproof. I hear all the goofiness and bickering in crystal clarity. And there’s a lot of bickering, some good natured, some that underlies a deeper set of office politics than I’m aware of. The office is on the main drag in Loves Park. Police race past at least once an hour, sirens blaring. Usually, they wait until I’m on the phone with a client.
“Sounds like they’ve caught up with you,” the client will invariably say. I usually mumble something back to the effect of Ha-That’s-Very-Funny-I’ve-Never-Heard-That-One-Before. So, finally, after one particularly miserable Friday, it occurred to me that there was absolutely nothing I needed in the office to do my job. In fact, there were several serious impediments to doing my job. So, I packed up what was left of my office supplies, all of my paper folders, packed up my laptop and cell phone and took off home.
That was two and a half years ago. I don’t think anyone has noticed that I come in even more rarely than I did before. My boss doesn’t care; I get stuff done when I need to get it done. I still show up on occasion, sitting at my desk long enough to clear it off and try the phone and remind myself how nice it is to work from home.