But Superstorm Sandy has created legions of people who can’t wait to get back to the office.
They include parents who have struggled to juggle conference calls while their kids scream in the background. Also families who have fought for days over the use of a single home computer. And even executives who have conducted business with the only device they had with reliable Internet access: their smartphone.
About one-third of American workers work from home at least occasionally, according to Forrester Research. But massive flooding, power outages, transit shutdowns and school closings that followed Sandy forced thousands more from North Carolina to Maine to do so this week. And many learned that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Michael Lamp, a social and digital media strategist who has been working out of his one-bedroom apartment in the Brooklyn borough of New York City because his office in the Manhattan borough is closed, sums it up on his Twitter page: “I’m getting sicker of it with every hour that passes. I might be slowly losing it.”
Lamp, who converted his coffee table into a desk, says he longs for face-to-face interaction with his colleagues at Hunter Public Relations. And he’s finding it particularly difficult to share his workspace with his live-in partner.
“I love him very much, but I would rather not see him 24 hours a day,” says the 28-year-old, who proudly admits that he can’t wait to greet his manager in the office. “I’m going to run to my boss’s office and tell her I missed her face.”
Dr. Alan Hilfer, director of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York, says it’s normal to struggle with working from home. He says it “has its own set of difficulties” that people who don’t do it often aren’t always aware of.
“There are many more distractions than working in an office,” he says. “Even people who do it on a regular basis find it much harder to structure and discipline their time.”
Hilfer, who lives in Brooklyn and works in a hospital in Manhattan, knows the distractions firsthand. He was working at home on Thursday to avoid the difficult commute in the storm’s aftermath. But he kept getting distracted by Sandy updates on TV, projects he needed to get done around the house and his wife asking questions about what she should get from the supermarket.