As some of you may have read, I fractured my ankle more than a month ago. Thankfully surgery wasn't required, but I did need a cast and crutches. I worked from home for the first three weeks; during that time, I realized how lucky I was to be able to remain productive. Thanks to the Internet, secure VPN access and instant messaging, I could discharge my duties and communicate with co-workers as well as if I was in the office.
Friends and family, who heard of my unfortunate accident, noted how lucky I was to be able to work from home. But truth be told: Despite its benefits, telecommuting isn't all that it's made out to be. This is what it was really like to work from home.
1. You get to watch more TV
Err...not quite, unless you don't have much work to do, deadlines to meet or e-mail from bosses and colleagues to answer. Even when I did have the television switched on, I hardly watched a full program. Funnily, I found myself working a little harder than usual, just in case someone thought I was goofing off at home.
2. You don't have to dress up
Indeed, this is one of the perks, especially when you have to wear a cast and your jeans and pants have a narrow leg opening! I know one of the last things I wanted to do was change out of my sleepwear. If you've been in my shoes before, you'll know how tiring and inconvenient it is to hobble around with crutches!
3. You can wake up at lunchtime
Unfortunately, I didn't have that luxury, as I was responsible for updating parts of the ZDNet Asia site before 10am every day.
4. You'll be more productive
My mum visited and brought lunch every day, which was really nice of her. But, mothers being mothers, I couldn't quite get her to understand that despite being at home, I was working--I was just not in the office. So my dear mother proved to be a little of a distraction with incessant questions about the unmade bed, the pile of clothes left unfolded, and the dust balls behind the wardrobe; concentrating on work was a little difficult at times. That said, for the most part, I believe I was more productive compared to being at work. I suspect it's because I didn't have to attend impromptu meetings that turn into long-drawn discussions.
5. You'll be more comfortable
Not always, especially in humid, tropical Singapore. I worked in the living room which didn't have air-conditioning; I kept cool by blasting the fan at top speed, but that wasn't enough on really hot days. That's when I appreciated being in CNET's cozy air-conditioned office, even though it sometimes can get down to bone-chilling temperatures.
Certainly, working from home has its advantages. And when you're physically-challenged, you appreciate not having to deal with the inconvenience of commuting to work. So thank God for the Internet! Technology, despite its potential negative impact on work-life balance, is indeed God-sent for the physically-challenged.