My office is 110 miles from my house. I didn’t intend it that way; it’s just the way it worked out since my friend wanted to sell his house, and it was in my price range. I telecommute two days a week.
I have a three-bedroom house, and the smallest bedroom is tiny. I was using that as an office, but I decided I like working in the living room on my PowerBook instead of using a desktop computer. (And I have a roommate now whose bedroom is the little one, pending renovation of the middle one.) I lived and worked alone for a long time. She works nights and is working on her BS in Nursing, so when I’m working she’s either asleep or doing her homework in her room. So it’s like being alone. (Her cat does keep me company, and he’s learning that he’s not allowed on the couch when I have a computer in my lap.)
One great thing about telecommuting is that I can work when I’m sick. Generally I catch a cold twice a year. I don’t want to infect the office, but I’m not feeling lousy enough to not work. So I can keep on top of the datalanche by working from home. I can also work from home when weather prevents me from going down to Seattle. I like cities (I lived in L.A. proper for 17 years), and I do get a little ‘cabin fever’ if I work from home too long. It’s not so bad, though.
As far as space, I do have the house. But when I’m working I stay on the couch. I have the ever-present coffee cup within reach. My folders (which I don’t really need, as I have electronic files – it’s nice to have the paper though) are on the couch next to me. Really, my workspace is smaller than my work-box at the office.
I don’t hang out with the people I work with. I’ll occasionally take an afternoon break to go for a walk with my officemate, and sometimes I can talk the boss into going to a pub for lunch. My best friend, from whom I bought the house, moved to South America. My filmmaking cohorts have moved to Texas (the Army got him) and San Diego (better acting opportunities closer to L.A.). Of course I have my ‘imaginary friends’ here at the Dope, and I have my former fiancée living with me. If I really start feeling closed in I can go for a walk or run an errand. And there’s the cat.
It’s a long haul to the office. Fortunately I’m averaging about 47 mpg in the car. The commute gives me time to drink a bowl of gruel on the way in, and to listen to NPR for a couple of hours. I live in a sleepy seaside village where many people only live in the Summer. I’m just up a small hill from the beach. Except for celebratory occasions such as The Fourth of July (when it sounds like a war zone) and New Year’s Eve (when it sounds like a war zone), it’s pretty quiet. From my couch I can look out the French doors and see squirrels, birds, neighbourhood cats, and the occasional raccoon. It’s all very nice. When I go to the office I have the many food establishments for lunch, and I can take walks to Pike Place Market for a nice one-mile (r/t) jaunt. I have friends in Seattle, and we occasionally meet up for lunch. I have a standing invitation to sleep over, in case I want to do something nightlife-y. (Haven’t done it yet, though.) So I have my nice, quiet home, and also access to the city.
I don’t think you’d have to cordon off a workspace in your home. Just make it a multi-use space like I do. If you need to go into the office, do. With the price of gas being so high, I might request another telecommuting day and only go into the office Mondays and Fridays. You might see if you can do that.
And now it’s time to shoo the cat off the couch and start crunching the data.