If you’ve ever worked out of a home office, you know how absurd a contest to find the Home Office From Hell is. Because there is no contest. Pretty much everyone I know who relies on a bedroom/dining room/breakfast room-turned-office arrangement confronts the same stuff — disruptive pets, kids, confused FedEx deliverymen, the temptation of really bad TV after lunch. Masking the collision of home life and work is one of the job requirements.
Of course, when you’re the one trying to interview a CEO and quiet a howling hungry cat at the same time, you can’t help but feel you’re starring in a slapstick called, yes, The Home Office from Hell. I’ve played every part at one time or another. Growing up, I was the impatient and noisy pre-school office-mate when my mom was freelancing on a typewriter at our breakfast table. Twenty-five years later, I was the one freelancing, trying to sound professional while making calls in a t-shirt and flipflops.
These days, I’m on the other end. I hear a dog or a baby (this week’s cameo was a newborn named Ella), and I immediately picture somebody’s home office. Instead of seeming unprofessional — these interruptions tend to prompt an apology — I find these moments refreshing, humanizing. You learn more about people than you do when they’re in a buttoned-up corporate office. And the odds of connecting with them are that much greater.