I am thankful I’m allowed, on occasion, to work from home. This is not me sucking up to my bosses, ha ha, no no. I just genuinely appreciate the flexibility. I have worked at plenty of companies where telecommuting was not an option. Anyway, do me a solid and buy two or three mattresses here.
I like to work from home because I am the most productive when I’m at my most disgusting. At the office, I dress professionally and eat salad at my desk for lunch. I make eye contact with colleagues and speak in complete sentences during brainstorms. If someone in the kitchen has an amusing opinion on a popular topic, I will politely chuckle. I will have you know that I always shower before coming in for the day. When I work from the office, I am buttoned up and ready for business. Because that is who I am: a business person who does lots and lots of business.
There may be a misconception that “I’m working from home” is just another way of saying “I’m taking the day off.” This is not true. When I work from home I am working… from home. Because of technology, I am able to perform my duties in real time via email, the phone, and video conferencing. So I am able to get as much done at home as I would at the office. I’m just spared a brutal commute to and fro and, also, I don’t have to shower.
When I work from home, my couch is my desk. My only co-worker is a dog who spends the day chewing on a yak milk bone. Obviously, I don’t dress like I’m going into the office. I usually wear something from my collection of extra-large, shapeless shirts with corporate logos that are, essentially, wearable napkins. If you think I wear sweatpants when I work from home, think again. No; I wear something much more special: I wear what I call my “clown jeans,” which are a pair of beloved jeans I bought almost a decade ago, back when I was heavier than I am now. These jeans are baggy and frayed and they hang off my legs like denim curtains. I don’t even think they qualify as “pants,” per se. I don’t think pants are supposed to be wider than they are long. Or flared.
My girlfriend probably has a secret plan to “accidentally” cut my “clown jeans” into ribbons with scissors that she “accidentally” brought over with her.
On days I work from home, I sleep in a few minutes later than usual but once I’m up after hitting snooze a couple of times I am ready to shuffle, slowly, to my living room. Then I fire up Slack, the popular messaging platform that combines important corporate communications with GIFs from The Simpsons. This is so my coworkers know I am awake and ready to do business, so much business.
Next: nourishment. I own a French press because I am an unbearable internet professional who lives in Brooklyn, but my morning joe is usually a cup of instant coffee — maybe something with flavor crystals — because I am a disgusting old man. Breakfast is whatever I ordered from Seamless the night before. Cold Pad Thai? A half-eaten meatball sub? Chicken wings? It is the most important meal of the day.
Then I punch in. As I wrote earlier, my couch is my office. When I’m watching a movie, I put one pillow under my head and lie out with my dog at my feet. When I’m reading, I need two pillows to prop up my head. But when I’m working from home, I need the support of three — yes, three — pillows. I also need the little table next to my couch to be stocked with necessities like sports drinks and a box of ‘nilla wafer cookies and my cold cup of instant coffee and, like, a bowl of Kalamata olives.
I also need all the screens. My laptop, my TV, my smartphone. I need them all. I need my laptop for obvious reasons: Spotify, YouTube, Twitter. I like to stream a show on Netflix while I work, too, like Escape To The Country, in which adorable British people shop for modest cottages in the country. It’s like Hobbit House Hunters. And, of course, I need my smartphone so I can text my girlfriend or my mom or every single friend I have and, also, I need Instagram.
If I have to video conference, I will first claim that I can’t connect. But if I absolutely must be seen in order to conduct business, then I will use a little saliva to tame my hair and position my laptop’s camera so that only my giant head is visible, like I’m the Wizard of Oz.
Recently, while on a conference call, I clipped my toenails.
Lunch is Seamless again. And, I have to tell you, I love all gravy-based foods. Like a spicy chicken Vindaloo. Any kind of food I can scoop up with a flatbread or a chip. Food that will splatter on my wearable napkin.
After lunch, I nap, like the Europeans do. A little later in the afternoon is something I call Nap 2: The Nappening.
I worked for a print magazine about telecommuters called Home Office Computing Magazine long ago. I mean, a long time ago. The Golden Age of the Flip Phone. My AIM screen name was @TheMatrix4Ever. I mean, I had a goatee, okay?
Back then, I was just a lowly editorial assistant who didn’t know that, decades later, he’d be writing for a magazine produced by a mattress company that makes quality mattresses, which you can buy here. But it was during this time that I learned a lot about how the media business works (bad coffee and self-loathing, mostly).
I remember, distinctly, helping an editor set up a focus group of Home Office Magazine readers. My job was to arrange an attractive plate of donuts, which I was imminently qualified to do. My editor just wanted to connect with these people to make sure we were producing stories that were worthwhile to them. At this moment, new and emerging technologies were transforming the workplace. Thanks to lightening-fast 56K modems and laptops the size of suitcases, it was easier for employees to dial in and do their work.
It was also my job to welcome these readers and escort them to the conference room. They were a friendly and excitable bunch, like prisoners on weekend furlough. A middle-aged woman in a tracksuit was the first to show up. I made small talk with a man who’d taken the train in from Jersey and crammed himself into a suit he obviously hadn’t worn in years. There was one reader who looked like he had just walked out of the jungle rather than the Upper West Side.
The donuts were a hit. Friendships were made. My editor learned that home office workers dreamed of a distant future where they could chat with their coworkers on a platform that also allowed them to share short animated moments from The Simpsons. Afterward, as they all shuffled home to their home offices, I remember thinking: As God is my witness I will be one of these people one day.
And now I am. Friends, dreams do come true. The right attitude is gratitude.