I must be the perfect modern employee. In my 20+ years of working life, I have rarely had an office or even a cubicle to call my own, and haven’t particularly wanted or missed one.
In the three-room apartment that was our home in Milan for 13 years, my workspace (when I wasn’t in a shared office) was a corner of our bedroom. The temporary cubes I was assigned on my visits to Silicon Valley were a comparative luxury!
But, even in cramped conditions, working at home had advantages: if my daughter was sick and had to stay home from school, or if public transport was on strike (as happens frequently in Italy) and I couldn’t get to the office, it just didn’t matter. As long as I had a computer and an Internet connection, I could be productive wherever I was.
I began travelling extensively for work around 1994, so I always had a laptop (in addition to or instead of a desktop computer), and was accustomed to working anywhere, anytime.
This became a standing family joke: we would stage pictures of me working in unlikely places: on a P&O ferry from Calais to Dover, at the top of a snowy Alp, on a beach recliner in Martinique.
I did not actually work in any of those places – I do know how to take a vacation. But not being tied to a desk meant that I could work, when I chose, anywhere in the world. I didn’t have to take vacation time to be present at the obligatory family holidays halfway across Italy – I could spend time with the family and still get my work done.
In our new home in Lecco, I have a small home office with a spectacular view – who needs a corporate corner office?
But that’s not enough to keep me in one place. My colleagues at Sun don’t much care where I am physically located (and are scattered all over the world themselves, both in Sun offices and at home), so I can pick up my laptop and go wherever I want to. With my Sun badge, I can waltz into any Sun office in the world and use a desk and high-speed Internet – but I don’t have to.
Right now I’m in India, visiting my daughter at my old school. Thanks to the hospitality of a classmate, I’m in a comfortable home with a more-than-decent Internet connection – I can even use Skype to keep in touch with my colleagues. The only thing lacking is a desk, but, hey, I’ve still got a lap.
And the view ain’t too shabby, either.
How about you? Are you ready to give up a cube or office?