ABOVE: There's positives and negatives about working from home.
ABOVE: There's positives and negatives about working from home. wutwhanfoto

The liability lurking in the office kitchen

THESE DAYS I'm lucky - and unlucky - enough to be able to work at several jobs without having to go near an actual office (apart from the small and often stuffy space in the back of my garage).

While I have just about always worked for myself, contracting out my services to many a company, for years I had to commute. Most often it was through peak-hour city traffic, to air-conditioned rooms filled with ghastly corporate furniture, nasty nylon boucle-covered partitions and dying plants.

Without a doubt the biggest liability in any job was coping with the office kitchen. For some reason, when some people come to work, they forget their house-training and assume somebody - anybody - else will clean up their crap. Cereal-encrusted bowls, scummy coffee mugs, smeary glasses and crumb-laden plates are inevitably stacked in a too-small sink, and don't get me started on the science experiments in the communal fridge. In one place of employment it was no problem to find goodies lurking in the back of the Westinghouse that predated the JFK assassination. Nasty little tentacles oozed out from under plastic lids, looking for protein to snack on. It required a strong stomach (and industrial-strength gloves) to perform the necessary culling.

I'm the first one to admit my living environment isn't pristine, and there's been the odd bit of elderly Tupperware I've found a few days after the contents should have been pitched, but at least I have a reasonable idea what the furry contents once were.

The other thing I've noticed about working from home is how few interruptions I experience now (apart from well-meaning neighbours and friends who don't get that working from home still involves deadlines and diligence). In one job I had that required my physical presence, a colleague never understood the concept of "head down, bum up” and would spend the better part of the day making pointless and inane comments about anything other than work, breaking my concentration and driving me to the point of insanity. In the end I resigned, but not before I tried all manner of subterfuge. I wore headphones attached to a silent iPod; I feigned a temporary hearing loss thanks to a (non-existent, non-contagious) virus; and I even unplugged the computer next to mine and told them it was out of order.

The unlucky part of working from home is - as is the lucky bit - to do with people. Often they provide a sounding board that helps produce a satisfying outcome.



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