Yesterday, I worked from home — my day to take part in NASA’s scheduled emergency procedure exercise. Thanks EVA.com for posting a feature about it. We’re testing to see if we crash our systems with all of us logging on remotely. After enduring the nightmare traffic commutes following the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, I began to wonder why we couldn’t simply work from home on days of horrific traffic or bad weather. I’m glad we’re testing it out, office by office.
We have the technology to work from space on a daily basis with our six international crew members. Why not model it here on Earth?
"Space: Ultimate Telework" by NASA Cartoonist Jim @JimEHull
Think about the impact on our planet if fewer of us hit the roads every day to go sit at a desk. I’m specifically talking office work. Landscapers would clearly need to show up at the worksite — that is, until we have little landscape-robots that can plant via remote directions, like we use with NASA’s Robonaut. Even doctors can practice medicine remotely through technology. We demonstrate that daily on our orbiting outpost, Space Station, as well.
We can debate the merits of telework. I’d really rather just share a list of what I LOVE about working from home. I’m sure you have your own pro/con list.
I have to admit, though, the only downside to telework in my opinion: not ENOUGH opportunities to work from home!
Reasons I LOVE teleworking:
#1 Commute = 20 steps to my computer. No traffic. ‘Nuff said!
#2 Comfy clothes. PJs, if I want. Ah the luxury of NOT getting dressed for work — no makeup, no flat iron. I can EVEN save the PLANET by NOT wasting water on a shower. And NO office mates close enough to me to complain.
#3 Windows in EVERY room!!!!! Woo Hoo! I can see green everywhere I look. (Green as in grass, not money.) But then again, I AM saving gas money. See #8 below.
View from my Executive Office Suite
#4 Silence…other than the birds chirping outside. Concentrating in a cubicle environment can be difficult. I get where the cubicle concept came from. Someone somewhere wanted to ensure office workers shared information with one another. The answer: create a maze-like office environment with walls that offer visual privacy but stereo sound. Every conversation can be heard by everyone. Office mates talk through the cubicle walls, without knowing if anyone is listening. Let’s not even touch the subject of coughing and sneezing in a cubicle environment….
My office garden at home.
#5 Brightly-colored walls, if I stay inside. My office is painted Garden Green. My daughters will attest to the fact that I can hardly STAND to be indoors. When I’m inside, I surround myself with Spring colors all year round. I really think that’s the hardest part about working inside the padded gray walls of my office cube. Note: I always wanted to create a musical theater production called, “Inside My Padded Cell.” Hey, if Phantom of the Opera can have a musical, so can a crazy government employee trapped inside cubicle walls day in and day out. Right?
#6 Vitamin D (as in good ole’ sunshine) — only a few steps from my computer. I can even take my laptop outside if the weather is nice. Most days in the office, I never see the light of day — literally. During the winter, I drive to work in the dark, park in the garage, take the elevator up to our floor, work, take the elevator back down to the garage, and drive home in the dark. Unless I make a trip across the street to Starbucks, I may never get out of the building. Real Vitamin D from the sun is SO much more satisfying than taking a Vitamin D horse pill.
Coco all snuggled up next to my office chair.
#7 Creature Comforts. All the critters hang out at my house. My cat Coconut (Coco for short) prefers my lap, but moves to her window bed if my lap is taken (laptop). Longtime chipmunk neighbor, Chippy Stumptail, lives under my kitchen window and hangs out on my porch steps. He lost half his tail years ago, but I’m happy to report it’s growing back — almost 1/2 inch of it. All kinds of birds — finches, woodpeckers and at least one hawk — swoop around in my yard. Sometimes hummingbirds, too.
#8 Cost savings. I save TONS of money when I’m not running down to the deli in our building for snacks or lunch. Supply and demand forces RULE. The demand outweighs the supply and we pay a high price for it. Yes, I know, I can bring my lunch to save money. But how much nicer to make my lunch at home while I’m teleworking. (Ok, I’m sure my water bill and electricity go up from working at home…but somehow the price of gas and cost for food seems higher.)
#9 Decreased stress. Speaks for itself, I think.
#10 Increased productivity. I need quiet to write. My home office TOTally fits the bill. I get TONS done at home. See #4 Silence.
Bravo NASA for making sure every Headquarters employee has the equipment and understanding of how to work from home in case we have an emergency in the area.
Hands up for all those who want to “test it out” on a more regular basis. Yes, I see yours. And yours too.
My buddy Jim Hull sent me this today. He SO nailed it!
Illustration by NASA's resident cartoonist Jim Hull.