In the future, thanks to advances in Internet connectivity, more people will work at home. While there are some obvious benefits to this arrangement, such as savings on gasoline and the ability to devote more of the workweek to bidding on Battlestar Galactica memorabilia, there is a dark side as well: Deprived of the usual opportunities for employee-on-employee passion, the home-based worker may start looking for love in all the wrong places. And therein lies the ugly truth: When you're your own boss, you have no one to sexually harass but yourself.
Consider my story. A couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance to work at home, envisioning the huge spike in productivity that would naturally result from not having to shave or put on pants. In those early, innocent days, I regularly put in a robust eight hours, interrupted only by lunch and semi-hourly visits to YouTube (GOOG). Then, after less than a week of this happy routine, everything changed in an instant. One morning, I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror and, without thinking, uttered two fateful words: "Looking good." Back at my desk, I was rattled. Perhaps my comment to myself had merely been friendly, but a part of me felt that it was inappropriate. And that come-hither expression on my face was unmistakable; I had seen it many times before on my Match.com (IACI) profile. No, there could be little doubt: I was hitting on myself.
My unease soon gave way to shame. Had I, as my own boss, created a hostile work environment for myself? Or had I, as my own employee, "asked for it" by showing up for work in my underwear? Trapped in a hell of my own creation, and with no one to turn to in my hour of torment (I was my own HR person), I had no choice but to downsize, outsourcing my job to India. At this very moment, I'm probably putting the moves on myself in an industrial park in Bangalore, but at least I don't have to know about it.
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