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When working from home goes wrong
“I kind of threw my hands up in the air and said I have to go to the only place I know that has free child care, and that is my parents’ house,” says Zammit, who acknowledges that she can’t wait to get back to the office.
Drew Kerr, a public relations specialist, also was eager to return to work Wednesday morning after losing power at his home in Westchester, N.Y. on Monday.
A big challenge was keeping his two teenagers occupied. To prevent the family from getting cabin fever, Kerr went to a deli to charge up everyone’s laptops. He says he even ate his corn beef sandwich and onion rings slowly, so the devices could get as much power as possible.
But the next morning, he decided he’d had enough of working from home. Trains were down, but he was determined to get to the office. So he woke up early, hopped into his car, and did just that. It felt great to be get back to the grind. He even bought a bagel along the way.
“It’s just me and my bagel and a working computer,” Kerr says. “It’s nice to have heat. It’s nice to have electricity.”
Paul Costiglio, another Westchester, N.Y. resident who lost power Monday, also misses the office. While at home, he had to commandeer the family’s sole laptop so he could use it for his job as the director of communications for the New Rochelle School District. He needed it to update the district’s Web site on school cancellations and respond to reporters’ inquiries.
He explained to his children _ ages 5, 7 and 10 _ that “Daddy needs it for work.” Then, later, Costiglio, his wife and kids huddled around the laptop in the dark and cold to watch movies such as “Spy Kids 3.”
Costiglio says while he’s eager to return to work, he’s not the only one: “My oldest (child) even said she’d rather be in school than home without power.”
A lack of power also weighed on Samantha DiGennaro, who has been trying all week to run a 35-person public relations company through her smartphone. She was hit with a double whammy this week: There’s no power at her home or office, which are both in lower Manhattan. Adding to her woes, about half of her staff also have been without power.
So DiGennaro has been using social media websites Facebook and LinkedIn to communicate and delegate tasks to her employees through her phone. And she’s had to do that while constantly keeping an eye on the phone’s draining battery.
“Doing everything mobile-y is very limiting, as much as we rely on mobile,” she says. “Everything is taking triple or quadruple the amount of time that it ordinarily does … I want to get out, get to the office and be 150 percent productive.”
Similarly, Kathleen Webber, a journalism instructor at the College of New Jersey, can’t wait to get back to work after having been without power since Monday at both her home in Yardley, Pa., and at the college’s campus in Ewing, N.J.
Webber has had to be resourceful: She’s been grading papers by candlelight. But she desperately wants to work online, so she’s been on the hunt for free wireless Internet service. First, she tried her husband’s office, only to find the cubicles filled up. Then, she ventured to her local library and restaurants. But there wasn’t one empty seat.
Next Webber, the mother of three teenagers, plans to hit up friends for Internet access.
“I may have to freeload,” she says.
By Brahma Chellaney
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