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Work-at-Home Parents’ Troubleshooting Guide

For many of us, WFH has become the new normal, but it’s been on our minds for decades

colorful display of digital office settings

There are a number of articles (entire books, even) out there giving practical and sober advice about how to set up a home office if you are telecommuting or self-employed. They tell you about the equipment you’ll need, the space, the furniture, the number of phone lines and electrical outlets. As a home-working parent, though, I find that these how-tos fail to inform one on the really crucial issues, such as the importance of having a mute button on your phone and a couch in your office, the benefits of stocking one file drawer with assorted Matchbox cars, and how many pens you will need if you share your workspace with a four-year-old (a lot more than you think).

Actually, I wish I had a sharp, red, never-been-used-for-coloring-firetrucks Pilot Razor Point pen for every time I've read the cautionary sentence: “Telecommuting is not a substitute for childcare.” As my 11-year-old home-schooled office mate would put it: No duh. ...

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Herman Miller's guide from 1999 shares a glimpse of what WFH life was like for parents pulling double-duty during the dot-com era—replete with fax machines, Zip drives, and answering machines. Many of the benefits and challenges remain just as relevant today.

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