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If They Told You To Work From Home, I’ve Done It For 40 Years

March 12, 2020
old computer equipment
photo of Gary Oppenheimer in a garden Gary Oppenheimer

In 1976, I built a computer from a kit.  It had 512 bytes of memory, connected to my TV’s rabbit ears and stored data on a cassette tape recorder. Damn that was exciting

However, in 1978, after two years of computer programming for banks on Wall Street, I was done with working at an office.

I hated commuting, I hated working fixed hours, and I hated fluorescent lighting.

But I LOVED computers.

When it came time to look for work, I knew two things: I wanted to work in what I loved and I didn’t want to work in a place I hated.

I wanted to, what we then called, telecommute.

So I bought a Commodore PET computer, an acoustic modem with the blinding speed of 10 bytes per second, and started doing contract programming jobs from home. I haven’t commuted or worked under fluorescent lighting since.

Three decades later I envisioned as a virtual solution to hunger. I knew that I and anyone who was going to work with me, was going to work virtually too.  The efficiency and flexibility made it a no-brainer.

Much of what I learned in my telecommuting days applies in today’s virtual environment

The good:

  1. You can be just as efficient working in your PJ’s as you are in a suit
  2. There is never a line for the bathroom
  3. Your commuting and dry-cleaning costs drop to zero
  4. Your carbon footprint gets much smaller
  5. People who still work in an office are jealous of you.
  6. You can better work in alignment with your body clock (I did my best coding at 2AM)
  7. You can take a siesta or a mid-day bike ride if the sun is calling you outside
  8. You can work on your brilliant idea the moment the idea hits you
  9. There are no fire drills or boring meetings to interfere with your work
  10. You can blast whatever music you want and no complaints
  11. You never get a cold from a sick colleague
  12. No one can ever “borrow” from your special stash of treats

The bad:

  1. You can never “borrow” from someone else’s special stash of treats
  2. Talking around the water cooler is history.
  3. You don’t get invited to as many Holiday parties as you used to.

The bottom line is that working from home actually offers many benefits, and right now, with a global scare in progress, the critical benefit is that you don’t have to continually sing Happy Birthday all day long because you don’t have to wash your hands all day long.  You are safer in your own home.

Today, is working with millions of gardeners and 4,100+ communities in all 50 states, and it’s all done virtually.  My next posting will be about how working in the virtual environment since launch made it all work.

If your company is inviting you to work virtually, do it.

Don’t worry that they’ll immediately repurpose your desk or that they won’t think of you as a team player anymore.  I would however think twice if you think that your hold on the corner office with the great view might be in jeopardy.

Some final thoughts:

  • If the TV or YouTube are distracting you from work, turn them off.
  • If the refrigerator is continually trying to seduce you, unscrew the light bulb inside. Cake is less appealing in the dark.
  • If your kids or pet keep trying to get your attention, maybe it’s a moment to stop working and pet the dog (don’t waste your time on a cat) or hug the kids. Rule in my household was that there was ALWAYS time for a hug.

Lastly, don’t forget to take a break, stretch, close your eyes for a few minutes, or check in on an elderly neighbor.

Your work is certainly important, but you, and those around you are far more so.

– Gary Oppenheimer
Founder and CEO of


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