According to Microtrends, the new book by Democratic pollster Mark Penn--and as reported by Matt Bai in the 11/4/07 edition of the New York Times Sunday Magazine, 4.2 million Americans work exclusively from home and around 20 million do it part time. For the first time in my life I am working from home--as a part-time, freelance consultant and a full-time mom (with 12 hours of babysitting per week.) It is liberating and freakishly productive. The flexible schedule gives me the freedom to check out neighborhood haunts mid-day, during the week--no crowds, no rush. Before, on the days that I had an appointment out of the office, I used to wonder who all of those people were sitting in a cafe at 2PM on Wednesday. With 4.2 million folks working from home, I'm starting to get a better picture.
For all of the benefits of being self-employed and working at home, there are some serious economic annoyances. As Bai reports, "self-employed workers pay more than 15% of there incomes to Social Security, while traditional workers pay half that rate." Having to pay my own income tax, plus payroll tax, plus healthcare, plus having no 401K with some kind of company match does make the choice to be self-employed bittersweet. I join Matt Bai in calling for the redefinition of the relationships between business, workers and government--ideas like portable family health insurance and tax credits for offsetting childcare costs (that are currently only available through an employer)--ideas that can make self-employment an easier option.
Read some interesting posts about workplace design, neighborhoods, and third places at the CoolTown Studios website.
Image: Matthew Pillsbury.