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Working at Home is a Different World

By Gina Novelle
Posted Sunday, December 12, 2004

This article isn’t about the joys of working at home. It’s about facts, just plain everyday facts. This article is about the reality of working at home, and how it greatly differs from the outside working world.

I recently walked into the bank to deposit a check from one of my latest project jobs. As I stood in line, I noticed the room was serene. I looked around to observe the silence. Even the telephone on the clerk’s desk behind me seemed to ring quietly.

I turned to see who answered. The young woman was talking “alone” on the phone. I watched as she reached for a pen to write down the message. I was amazed that she could find the pen so easily. There it was “waiting for her in its still state.” A message pad was quickly retrieved from the drawer. As she continued, there were no interruptions. Not once, did she have to cover the mouthpiece and run to the nearest closet. There was no dog barking, child screaming and I heard no doorbells, TV, or the ding ding ding of a microwave.

I was a bit jealous that she could locate that pen and pad so quickly. If she would have produced scissors from her desk, I may have fainted. The simplistic act of answering a phone in a home office bares no resemblance to the calm, quiet, controlled professionalism of the other world. Oh, you say your office isn’t quiet. The sounds of phones ringing, computers printing, and people talking at once is everywhere. Even that only offers a slight similarity to a home office.

Let’s take a look at my recent telephone conversation. I knew I had to make a call to one of my clients. I was digitizing airplane information from old transparent overheads. Much of the statistical numbers had faded, so I needed to verify what I thought it said. I told my husband to please take the kids outside (we tag team like that when using the phone.)

I pick up the phone, and notice the TV was still on and The Wiggles were happily singing. Desperately trying to find the remote control, I finally resorted to turning it off manually. Back upstairs at the desk, the phone connects, and my client’s voice greets me. Hurriedly, he reads the correct statistical numbers. Oops, just a minute, I will retrieve from my desk drawer the pen and paper, only because neither is on the desktop.

I open the drawer, no pen, just a chewed pencil left in place of my good pens. Okay, I’m about ready, as he continues to spew airplane statistics. Oh man, where are those post-it notes? Just then that memory of a two year old comes to mind as she was proudly positioning them around the living room. Not to worry, I have a message pad, beside the printer. Oops, someone has also moved that. Okay, I grab an envelope from a stack left on the desk. I’ve already forgotten the first part of the conversation, and have to confess, that I missed a few points.

My client starts over. I scribble down the information, and feel happy; this call was almost over without incident. He’s giving me that last bit of information when the door burst open with all three kids. The oldest one is shouting, the middle one is crying, the baby screaming and the dog’s barking. The cat shoots over the desk, knocking off the envelopes, as my computer mouse crashes to the floor. Yes, all while I’m on the phone. As I usher them into the bathroom, motioning for my oldest to handle it, I vaguely hear the client say. “Is everything all right?”

I quickly answer, “Everything is fine, just some excited kids.” He continues, “They sound as if they are hurt.” “Oh no” I respond as I now notice blood on the carpet. I quickly reply, “I need to go now, the other line is ringing. Thanks for clarifying the numbers.”

I practically threw the phone on the floor, ran to the bathroom and my first words rushed out, “Where is your father?” My oldest one explains that he is the garage, but since the dog bit Monica, my office was closer. “What dog bit Monica?” I questioned. Monica was lying on our dog and wouldn’t get off was the explanation. While checking Monica, I told the oldest one to go get Dad. I comforted the toddler, who was just scared from all the commotion. With a baby in my lap, another one crying beside me, and now the sound of my husband running up the stairs, I thought back to the person at the bank.

These are the facts. If you handle a home office, you can handle anything!

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