• Lush Places

The Good Life: Home work

The revolution will not be televised. It will be telecommuted. By Greg Dixon.

There was a fog filling the garden, but it couldn’t hide the exciting events of the morning.

Through the alders, I could just glimpse Miles the sheep farmer’s lovely ewes having breakfast, their heads down in our narrow paddock. Near the potting shed, a fantail was flitting around one of the climbing roses which, remarkably for early winter, is still flowering. Meanwhile, the Cat was picking her way carefully across the dewy grass on her way to hunt field mice or rabbits.

This is a typical view from our office window. Even on a damp, raw morning in early winter, it is better than any outlook I ever had working in someone else’s office, including the one near Auckland’s Westhaven marina.

Our home office has finer amenities too, including a heater that no one else is allowed to touch, a short walk to a toilet no one else is authorised to go near, and a nearby espresso machine that produces coffee rather than something tasting like burnt rubber.

Our home office is catered too. If you work in it in the afternoons, Michele brings you cheese and tomatoes on crackers to “see you through” until dinner time.

Long before this awful Covid-19 thing, I knew that working from home sure beat working from anywhere else. So you can imagine my complete lack of surprise to learn that, according to a poll done by some recruitment crowd, most people who’ve worked at home during the virus crisis have loved it, were highly productive, and really aren’t too happy about being forced back to the office office.

My advice: tell your boss the revolution has begun, and it will not be televised, as poet Gil Scott Heron predicted. It will be telecommuted.

It’s not hard to understand why. Even if it doesn’t have a view of Xanthe in a paddock, every home office is superior to an office office because, and this is just for starters, your boss can’t sneak up behind you when you get bored mid-morning and decided to spend ten minutes doing something less tedious, like looking for a new ironing board on TradeMe.

There is also no chance of encountering the reek of someone microwaving last night’s tuna bake in the kitchen, or someone repeatedly nicking your tea mug, or being forced to make small talk with anyone other than the Cat. Also, there’s unlikely to be a flea infestation like there was one time (it might have been twice) when I was working at the New Zealand Herald.

There are fewer disruptions at the home office, too, because there are fewer disrupters — except at Lush Places. One of the biggest disturbers of the peace at the flea-bitten Herald was Michele, who worked there too. When she got bored mid-morning (also, early morning, late morning, early afternoon, mid-afternoon and late afternoon) she didn’t sit at her computer quietly shopping online like everyone else, she’d get up to no good. There were pranks. There was banter. There was noise.

One colleague, who had an office half a dozen metres from Michele’s desk, was so incensed by her carry-on one afternoon that he picked up his phone and rang her to tell her to shut the hell up, though he was politer than that. The thought of this still makes us laugh.

Our home office isn’t getting as much use as it was before Bauer Media more or less killed off the magazine industry in New Zealand. But I’m happy to keep sitting in it for the view, at least while the caterer is still delivering.


Aren’t people lovely?

When I say people, I mean Paula, a long-time reader of The Good Life. When she saw Xanthe and the girls in one of our haphazard social media posts last week, she had a thought, a very generous thought: they deserve a treat!

Paula rang the agricultural supply store PGG Wrightson here in Masterton and ordered and paid for a bag of sheep nuts for Xanthe and Elizabeth Jane and their friends, which have indeed gone down a treat. Just like cheese and tomatoes on crackers at your home office.