Virtual Commuting
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Virtual Commuting: Still at Work While on the Road
by Mike Banks Valentine

This week I'm writing from a relative's house hundreds of
miles from my home office on my laptop computer via a phone
line. It isn't much different here, although it's tough to
convince the cousins, nieces, nephews and other assorted
family members gathered in the living room that I'm actually
working while we renew family ties, I've completed tasks for
several clients, answered business email and put out my

While they are showing vacation photos, snacking on cookies,
and reminiscing, I am speaking with clients via cell phone,
setting up advertising for my ezine and arranging new work.
My nephew insists that I'm online playing games and my aunt
struggles to understand what kind of work you can do from a
guest bedroom away from the office. Even though there are
kids ocassionally dropping in to admire the notebook computer,
I'm able to accomplish everything I can do at work, even if
interruptions are more frequent.

This is the beauty of the Virtual Commute. I have missed the
last ten family reunions and haven't seen some relatives for
about twenty years because of work schedules and our complex
lives. Now I can participate in spite of those frustrations.
When I heard of this gathering, I accepted the invitation
without hesitation because I know that my work is not confined
to a particular location anymore.

While I've never suggested the web was the way to bring
world peace and make our lives perfect, I do love the fact
that internet mobility brings me a richer family life.

Last week I had a new client ask me where to mail me the text
for her new website. When I suggested she email it to me, she
was relieved that she didn't need to make the trip to the local
post office and fight the traffic and the crowd on Saturday
near closing time. She didn't know I would be communicating
with her by email while enjoying barbecued chicken from another
state, with a yardful of noisy kids and long-lost relatives.

My cousin was annoyed that I have an Apple computer because she
wanted help editing the graphics for a family newsletter from
her PC, frustrated that the two can't talk to each other over
her network, when I suggested she upload to the web and I grab
the images from there, edit and return them via the web, she
grinned with satisfaction.

In the past I've had to opt-out of these family gatherings . . .
today, I'm certain that my work will never keep me away from
another one. I wish I could say the same for other obligations.
My wife called to let me know we had a sick pet and that she
needed me to come home to help care for it. She knows that my
work can be done from the yard as well as it can be done from
the office. There may be drawbacks to this mobility thing.

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July 26, 2001