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Telecommuting on the Road to Nowhere

By Wil Forbis

Recently, something of a backlash has been appearing against the practice of telecommuting, the concept by which workers are supposed to do a large amount of their job in a home office and synch up to their company's network in order to share files or have work approved. Initially, telecommuting held a lot of promise for American society, and even more primitive cultures such as France. It seemed like workers would have more freedom, traffic congestion would be reduced and parents could stay at home with their children while still being productive members of the workforce. It really seemed like telecommuting was a win/win situation, but now that it's been in practice for a few years, the flaws are starting to show.

And to be honest, no-one could be happier about this than I. As someone who's worked at several jobs that required telecommuting over the past decade, I've seen first hand the problems that can be created. Many of the complaints being voiced are ones I've heard straight from the mouths of colleagues or experienced myself. The more common complaints include the loss of contact with fellow workers, the blurring of family and work life and the lack of productivity. But there are quite a few under-reported problems that also arise when telecommuting is introduced to a workforce and I'd like to take the time to share them with you.

STRAINED RELATIONS TOWARDS HOUSEHOLD - I'll never forget the first day I tried telecommuting. I woke up, strolled into the home office and fired up the old computer. About an hour into it, my female landlord walked into and started screaming, "Who are you? What are you doing? Get out of my house!" That's when it dawned on me: being that I always returned from the office well after she'd gone to bed and left before she woke, and due to the fact we'd never formally met since I'd simply snuck in through the terrace window one day, it must've have been quite a surprise to see me there attempting to conduct my work transactions on her computer. The relationship only improved after I fled from her home and relocated my operations to her basement furnace room, where I am writing now.

PRACTICAL JOKES - Just as every classroom needs a class clown, every office place needs a practical joker. I have strived to fill this role in all of the companies I've been employed, and I have to say, doing it virtually only makes things more difficult. How can you place a Whoopee Cushion on the CEO's chair when he's twenty miles away? How can you send the Chief Programmer into an epileptic seizure with the old Snake in the Can, when he's working at home and has placed specific orders that no-one tell you where he lives. How can you place starving, rabid weasels into the office librarian's desk when she works out of a ski resort? People may resent practical jokes at first, but years later, when asked "How did you lose your arm anyway?" the recollection of the mirthful fun had at their expense will bring tears to their eyes.

NAPPING - The truth is, I can't nap, unless I know I'm doing it while someone is paying me. When napping at home, with the 9-5 concept blurred, I can't help but wonder, "Am I napping on my time, or the company's time?" That leads to restlessness and fatigue, which leads to lowered productivity. And then everyone suffers... unless, as I've been told by some, the output of your efforts are actually doing more harm than good, in which case lowered productivity really means less damage.

THE MIDDAY MARTINI - As I think you can tell, I'm a man of few rules. But one of them has always been, "no drinking while in the office." When telecommuting from home, that rule no longer applies, and it's open season on all the malt liquor, cheap bacardi and cooking sherry in the house. After all, I'm not in the office, I hardly see how I can expected to abstain? Nonetheless, the constant inebriation leads to such activities as renaming the report originally titled "Cost-Reduction Opportunities in the Third Fiscal Quarter" to something like "Donkeys, Cerveza, and Loose Women - One Man's Weekend of Terror in Tijuana!"

INABILITY TO PURSUE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH CLIENTS - Any company that offers products or services has a dedicated sales team that works hard at accruing customers. And in my days as an on-site team member, I always went out of my way to attempt to fondle or otherwise molest new clients - it was just my way of saying, "Welcome!" How can you perform this function when you're working at home? Sure, you can send obscene pornography through email, or make sexually explicit phone calls, but somehow it just doesn't feel the same.

INABILITY TO PURSUE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH CO-WORKERS - One of the great joys of modern employment is the office romance. And whether it's greeting your supervisor in her office while wearing only a steel codpiece, or staying late to give the 50 year old Puerto Rican cleaning woman a two-piece lingerie set, everyone enjoys a little friendly office flirtation. Once the physical setting of the office is removed, these sorts of jaunts become even less likely to occur than before, and you're forced to settle with slathering yourself up in body oil and waiting patiently in the Volkswagen Jetta owned by the executive secretary.

By musing over these fine points, I'm sure you'll agree with me that it's mystery as to why I'm often forced to telecommute. (In fact, my current employer DEMANDED that I telecommute or risk expiration. (I'm pretty sure that by "expiration" he meant dismissal, but not 100% positive.)) Granted, I've still managed to raise some eyebrows while working virtually (Like the time I logged into a web cam meeting on stock valuations while giving myself a full body shave.) but it just doesn't seem the same. Ultimately, I'm a people person. I need to be around people, to caress them, to fondle them, to insult them... to do all the things you're supposed to do in a place of business. And I think the examples discussed above are the very same reasons why telecommuting is not catching on across America. I feel like I've always had my finger on the pulse of our culture and I wouldn't be surprised if you agree with me... after all, we're a lot alike, you and I.

Aren't we?

Wil Forbis is a well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy, he is making the world safe for democracy. Email -

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