Working from home - is it a thing?
 
 My car hasn't left our garage in days. Come to think of it, I haven't left the house since Saturday. And that was just to walk the dog. Our neighbours, if they wonder at all, might be curious about what the middle aged guy at Number 23 actually does. If anything at all. 

Across the road, Barry heads off to one of his building sites each morning. Down the street, Greg the Gardener gets into his ute and trundles off to mow lawns. I watch them drive past. 

Let's set the record straight. I'm very busy, I'll have you know. I have a nice office at home. After breakfast I give the bride a kiss - "see you after work Hun." - walk eight metres and sit down at my desk. From time to time, I discuss work-type things with my staff, contractors and clients, on the phone or on a video link. (The National Broadband Network gets a lot of flack, but for me, it's a winner.) 

Since they only ever see me from the waist up, my work attire these days rarely rises above a pair of shorts and a shirt. My feet don't see shoes for weeks at a time. 

At various times during the day, I emerge briefly to make a cup of tea, raid the pantry, pat the dog, or amble down to the letterbox. After more than forty years working in offices with other people, I'm still getting used to the New Deal, but that's what this working-from-home caper seems to be all about.

And it got me pondering; I can't be the only one. So I've been asking around. On a local Facebook group, I ask who else is pretending to have a 'normal' job while living and working where they please? Are there any other 'secret society' members nearby? Within minutes, People Like Me responded with alacrity. 

Not 100 metres away, James Cross tells me he does something called building energy assessments. "I'm a full-time employee but still do school runs with the kids and have them home on school holidays," says James. "I'm home 90% of the time and every few months I go to the Perth office to prove I'm not dead." 

But there are, says James, some drawbacks. 

"I can work in board shorts and a singlet, but it takes a while to get used to being at 'work' at home. Friends and family just drop in to chat even though you're 'at work'. It can be a bit isolated from things going in on the main office, and there's often no-one to talk to." 

From Jen McNab, I get the full 'living-the-dream' treatment. 

"I built some houses in Perth and run them as nightly rentals. I now have a manager working for me who runs all our bookings and handles everything. She looks after all our staff and I only deal with her if I have to. We communicate mainly via Facebook as it is fast and easy. 

"My husband and I travelled pretty solidly from 2013 until the middle of 2017. We have three kids (2, 6 and 9 - the littlest one was born while we were travelling) and we based ourselves in Bali for 4 years but then spent about 2 years of that travelling all over Europe, Asia and America. 

"My business just runs anywhere I have internet. Both of us work from home in Dunsborough and love it!"

From Renae McEnroe de Klerk

"I'm a career counsellor and the global nomad movement of people who can do their job anywhere is fascinating and so great for areas like ours. (Why would you live in a smelly city unless you had to!)"

With a view over Geographe Bay from their Dunsborough home, you wouldn't blame Nadene Weston-Cox and husband Gary for not dragging themselves away to Perth any more often than absolutely necessary. Nadene owns a couple of beauty salons in the city, but has lived 270km away 'Down South' for 12 years. "I still have to poke my head into the shops every so often," says Nadene, "but by and large, the staff run things very well, and I keep in touch by email and phone every day." 

Finance broker Kristian Moore seems to be doing it pretty tough too. I stood on the balcony outside his home office, perched on the hill overlooking the Yallingup surf break, and wondered what the downsides were. 

"Er, I can't think of any," he says. "My clients are all over the place. My staff are in Perth. I just work from here, and go for a surf when I can see the wind's in the right direction." 

Kristian moved to Yallingup from Perth "for a year" - that was six years ago. 

"I can focus on work when I need to, the view's not a distraction unless I’m planning on going for a surf, then I keep an eye on it just to see what the crowd is doing so I end up getting more waves in a shorter period of time when I do go,  which is often for less than an hour."

"Pros - zero time wasted travelling to work, I start early, as soon as I’ve woken up and made a coffee, between 5-6am and get a heap done in a very productive manner. Calm and distraction free environment. Being right next to the beach means even if I only have a half hour break it’s worth 10 times half an hour in the city in terms of separation from work, allows me to step back and think about big picture items and get rid of the chatter 

"I love it when clients come to see me, good chance to impress with my coffee making skills, or share a drink on the balcony. Most of the ones that come and see me are high level and more friends from being long term clients, but I’m happy seeing anyone who would like to come here, I don’t hide where I am." 

So from my straw poll, the working-from-home thing seems to be...working, at least for the self-employed (read: unemployable) among us. 

Entire university courses are run on the question of whether working from home is more or less productive compared with the traditional water-cooler method. Universities and think tanks seem to like that kind of navel-gazing, particularly when there's no conclusive answer. 

For me, the jury's out. Anyhoo, the dog's due to take me for a walk. 

Your comments, scathing critique or fawning flattery welcomed below.