Post-pandemic, many people work from home, and I’m happy to be one of them. When I started working from home back in 1990, it was extremely unusual. That was pre-Internet for most people (including me). I’ve written elsewhere about what I’ve learned while working remotely.
I worked for Mission to the World1Mission to the World is the foreign missions arm of the Presbyterian Church in America back then, managing their self-insured health insurance fund. I processed claims, submitted claims to the stop-loss insurer, kept all the records, did the accounting and data entry, and served on the stop-loss insurer’s advisory board. I learned the job from June Blankenship, who had been running the program since the 70s, and she retired after training me. When my husband, Wayne, took a new job in Dublin, Georgia (150 miles away from Atlanta), the organization had trouble replacing me, so I became a self-employed contractor and began telecommuting.2Shortly after I began working from home, we learned that I was pregnant. That was a welcome surprise, but it was a very hard pregnancy due to hyperemesis gravidarum. There’s no way I could have continued to work if I hadn’t been working from home.
I connected to MTW’s VAX 8250 from my Gateway 386 via a 2400 baud modem. The line frequently dropped due to noise, disconnecting my data entry sessions. When that happened, I had to restart the current batch, which was a nuisance. There were no chat programs to use to stay in touch with my co-workers. Email was available on the VAX, but it wasn’t commonly used by most of the people in the office (and the missionaries didn’t have access to that). The more normal thing to do was to type, print, and distribute memos. That was difficult at a distance! Once every week or so, I had to drive back to Atlanta to print and mail checks to pay claims.
I worked from home until late 1992, when I left Dublin to come back to Atlanta. I did administrative work for the next few years, getting more and more technical, and then went to work for MindSpring Enterprises doing tech support in 1995. Due to a shortage of office space, I began working from home again four days a week when I was promoted to being a technical writer. Staying in touch was easier than before, thanks to the availability (and widespread use) of email and chat programs.
I worked a hybrid schedule for my next few jobs as doing so became more and more common. When broadband connections finally became commonly available to home users with cable modems, working from home became much easier, and our connections were more stable. I believe I got my first one around 1998 or 1999.
I was out of the working world for the most part from 2000 through 2012, other than doing some freelance consulting and volunteer work. When I returned in 2013, I worked from home full-time for Support.com for a year, then for four years for Apple. I worked a hybrid schedule at Travel Syndication Technology; then shortly before the pandemic, I began working from home full-time. I haven’t been back in an office since 2020, happily.
In 2020, my husband Rick and I moved to a new home with room for a separate office. That made working from home much more comfortable. Now, I have a lovely desk with room for my Macs and my PC. My keyboards are all at the appropriate typing height, thanks to Rick’s willingness to install keyboard drawers. My chair is supportive and comfortable. The lighting is great, and there’s no distracting noise. I have a lovely 34″ monitor on my work Mac, a clicky keyboard with great tactile feedback, and a Magic Trackpad that works better for me than a mouse. There’s a HEPA air cleaner in the room and, in the winter, a humidifier. I’m more productive here than anywhere else. No employer could possibly provide a working environment that is so perfectly tailored to me.
Photo by Nelly Antoniadou on Unsplash