Stay-at-Home Communities

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Ash and I often hold opposite views on whether you need to be someplace you call your workplace or not. Of course, simply put I generally think that working from home although requires more discipline eventually works out better for both, the individual and work. Ash counters that when you work from home, you miss out on important social interactions that happen at the workplace. I admit that her point is not untenable and even I partly agree with the importance of social interactions. The point where I differ is that, you don’t have to sacrifice or give up on social interactions even if you work from home. No job exists unless it involves sitting back and enjoying your inheritance without any form of social interaction. Even if you are a freelance writer (a stay-at-home job that comes to mine readily), you are constantly meeting with your editor/publisher or out in the world researching your current topic or if nothing at all, going out to the café to write your best-selling novel, like JK Rowling did. Self-employed or small-business owners work similarly. They have their little world of people that they meet everyday and go about their business. So does that mean that their world-view especially in this day and age of ubiquitous computing is any less to that of a high-flying sales executive who meets with tens of people every month?

Under that premise, Otis White over at Urban Notebook writes on the inadvertent and mystifying residential agglomeration of self-employed people in a neighborhood in Baltimore. Keswick, a quaint neighborhood with modestly-priced homes has several small office buildings, stores, restaurants that serve as gathering places for people. The small-town feel of the neighborhood brings out the people who often do not “go out to work” to connect with their neighbors. These connections are not merely for emotional reasons but also functional as people doing different businesses rely on each other for business or personal needs. For e.g. artist that needs a lawyer’s help or a writer that needs web design and technical help often finds assistance within the neighborhood; often during informal meetings. This not only builds community ties but also fosters an active life in the neighborhood with people milling around at all times of the day.

People are ultimately social animals. Even though they may profess to prefer solitude, eventually they return to connect with their fellow beings. Regardless of where you work, this way you actually get to choose the people with whom you want to connect rather than putting up with a pesky and irritating co-worker.