by Thomas Wailgum

Telecommuter’s Notebook: 15 Things I Miss About the Office

Feb 25, 20094 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsIT LeadershipLaptops

Sure telecommuting is great. Until you realize you've got nothing but moldy cheese in the refrigerator for lunch, you're way out of the gossip loop and you never get the Friday afternoon back-slaps.

What do I miss about working in the office? Let’s start with the way to any man’s heart: his stomach.


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1. Unfettered access to all the fast-food restaurants located just steps from’s offices: Wendy’s, Panera and my personal favorite, Taco Bell. There’s nothing quite like trying to get your work done with an afternoon Taco Bell food hangover.

2. The “just stopping by” visit by colleagues. In the Lakes Region of NH (where I telecommute from), the only “drop by” I get are from the loons in the summer who love to sing their sometimes startling songs and passing snowmobiles in the winter. It’s nice and all, but there’s not a whole lot of dialogue going on.

screaming baby
Credit: Getty Images

3. There are no children in the office. I’m going to go right ahead and point out the “double-edged sword” effect of working at home: You get to see your family more often…which can be both good and bad, depending on whether the “Scooby-Doo” theme that wafts up the stairs can be banished from your head and you don’t mind almost blowing out your ankle on a Transformers robot every afternoon. I’ll shut up now.

4. Having IT people in-house to solve your tech problems in person. I get just a little bit nervous when our IT people remotely “take over” my PC. (Not that I have anything to hide. Really.)

woman in pjs
Credit: Getty Images

5. Image protection. Even if you’re not doing a lick of work when you’re in the office, you’re still “in the office.” The boss and colleagues can physically see you. And no one suspects that you’re still in your PJs and watching Will Ferrell video clips all day long. (Not that I’ve ever done that.)

6. There’s no stinky laundry piled up outside your cubicle.

wild dog pack
Credit: Getty Images

7. The free-food find: Whether it’s the serendipitous Friday a.m. doughnuts brought in by some benevolent coworker or the “seagulling” free-for-all that happens when you find a feast of lunch food left over from the bigwigs’ executive luncheon. (Mmmmmm…five-hour-old ham sandwiches!) Never happens in the home sweet home.

8. I’m not one to spread untruths (so you didn’t hear it from me), but a little harmless gossip never failed to keep the day moving along. It’s just not smart to send those golden pieces of juicy office rumor and innuendo over e-mail. Especially in these times.

9. Not having to log on to the temperamental VPN every time you want to get something off of HQ’s servers. (Still trying to figure out why iTunes and VPN don’t mix.)

10. If you leave your work PC at the office, there’s no way you can do any work on it over the weekend. When you work out of the home, it’s always there.

conference room
Credit: Getty Images

11. Meeting intelligence. Know all the uncomfortable intrastaff interactions and exchanges (rolling of the eyes, exasperated sighs, awkward glances) that happen during company meetings? Without videoconferencing equipment, I miss out on all the subtle body language and dirt on who really despises who.

12. Human interaction. Man cannot live by e-mail, IM and Twittering alone.

Howard Stern

13. Listening to Howard Stern in the mornings on the drive to work. It’s just not the same at home.

14. Enjoying a lunch away from the office. At home I feel compelled to sit at my desk and eat lunch and (naturally) keep working.

15. Those Friday afternoons, when everyone’s burnt out after a long and successful week and just sitting around shooting the bull (including the bosses). Of course, I get to knock off on Friday without having to end my week with a commute from hell. But still.