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The community outside the office

One of things that I enjoy most about not having 9-to-5 work is the freedom to get things done at home, go shopping, and see sights at a time of my choosing instead of during the comparatively narrow window of time during which my office is closed but the places that I want to go are open. Aside from getting some exercise, exposure to the sun, and a break from work, I feel more like a part of the community than I did when spending the best part of the day sitting in an office.

Of course this reflects the nature of my former work as much as anything else; perhaps working as a street-cleaner, courier, bus driver or the like would get me out into the community as much or more than I do now. And much of the “community” I’m talking about here is composed of comparatively superficial transactions like buying bread or borrowing books from the library. Still, I feel like I’m seeing the world outside an office and interacting with people other than computing academics and computing students, however briefly.

As I was writing this entry, I happened to read an article over at the ABC telling of home-workers who have had what might seem to be the opposite experience to me, finding themselves isolated and withdrawn without the social interaction that they had in the office. I do sometimes miss the people I’ve worked with—both at my most my immediate past workplace and earlier ones—but I wouldn’t say that I miss social interaction in general because I still interact through being out of the house for at least a little while each day and through friends and activities outside of work. Maybe a strong dose of introversion helps here.

One might even wonder if there’s something a little tragic about needing to slave away in an office all day not just to meet economic ends, but to feel like a member of the community as well. On the other hand I wouldn’t wish for a job that keeps me isolated and withdrawn either. But for me, my present split between office time and home time seems to meet my needs well enough.

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