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Working From Home is Missing Something That Only Offices and Cities Can Provide

Working from home has quickly become the latest “cool” trend in the tech industry — and now employers are even offering part-time worker “provision” so workers will leave the office during their day off.

Many companies offer “virtual offices” as a perk, and it seems like everyone wants a piece of the pie. With more people working from home and on the go than ever before, a new law passed last week for Iowa employers allows employers to even extend the working days for employees in our state by allowing on-call employees to come in from the other side of the world to complete work.

The law states employers must pay hourly employees up to the standard rate to work from home during their scheduled hours if they can show an employee is unable to provide physical safety of the work in the home or in an approved office location.

The bill only includes employees who have been given a day off, and it does not apply to long-term employees, thus allowing work-from-home in the future.

Most people — myself included — recognize that working from home during our days off is unhealthy, but there is one aspect of working remotely that is missing that many offices, cities and companies do not provide.

Yes, many companies offer a computer in the office and limited access to email. People with laptops and smartphones have always had access to unlimited access to the internet.

But few people consider the fact that even when they are home, the internet is not always available at the best of times. Not only does internet at home vary from home internet, it also fluctuates much more drastically. We do not have real-time speed here in Des Moines where I live, but there are many parts of the world where internet access is so spotty you cannot even get an ISP’s web page to load in time.

So when I’m home during my “off day,” I’m often stuck having to click the internet link through friends who live abroad — and it’s not a pleasant experience. Then there are times when things like video feeds, such as broadcasts from sports events, go down as servers become overwhelmed. All of that inconvenience adds up over time.

If working from home is all about freelancing and working on my own schedule, how about the “on-call” concept? Sometimes, I may need to pick up work at my office and sometimes I’ll need to spend a few days in a remote office. But if an employer lets their employees stay in the office during their days off, then that offers the employee the comfort of home and the “on-call” concept.

So while working from home is certainly interesting, it is still home-based work that lacks the bells and whistles of an office. And for many people, working from home needs to feature a real-time internet connection, a guaranteed internet connection and a host of other amenities that most cities can provide.

Ryan Medley is an intern at Des Moines Magazine and an adjunct course director at TriState Community College. He spent four years working on capital projects for the city of Des Moines.

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