Changing The Nature of Work / by Erin Wade

This is sometimes my office - and my office staff... 

This is sometimes my office - and my office staff... 

I am fortunate in that, for at least part of my time, I can work from home. But the real story here is that home is a 150 year old house in a location that many people would uncharitably describe as being in the middle of nowhere.

I grew up out here - this was my grandmother's house, and was built by my great-great-great grandfather. I grew up across the field, and spent a large percentage of my childhood in this very place. In the 1970's and 1980's of my childhood choosing a rural life meant compromise. Entertainment was four TV stations - the big three major networks out of Rockford, and channel 32 out of Chicago (which had the good cartoons) - pulled in on an antenna that stood taller than the house it was mounted against; and radio - really only one channel there for most of us: WLS, the 50,000 watt AM powerhouse that introduced me to the Eagles, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, and was home of Larry Lujack. They had a couple of movie theaters in LaSalle-Peru, but most of my early movie experience was at the drive-in in Earlville.

It also meant - and still means - being victim to the weather. During the winter of '79 we were stuck at home for many days in a row, and it was this that ultimately led my father to move us into town.

While I objected at the time, moving to town resulted in a a series of revelations. We got cable TV, and (even in a small town) stores and restaurants within an easy walk or bike ride. It's not hard to understand why people appreciate the convenience of living in groups - in villages, towns, and cities - though ultimately those locations do require sacrifices of their own.

What is different now about being in the middle of nowhere is that, while I still get snowed in from time to time, the Internet and portable tech mediates the rest of the limitations to a significant degree. The iPads mean that I can work anywhere I want, with a battery that lasts the entire day and a form factor that adapts to any location (no separate keyboard dictating the position I have to be in when working). And wireless internet - through LTE or through the line-of-sight radio internet we are lucky enough to have here - supports it by providing access to cloud services - Dropbox, iCloud, what have you. I have everything I need to do my work, and I don't have to be chained to a desk or an office to do it. I have a friend that refers to this as living in the future, And that seems about right.