If you're sick of your commute to work, consider taking a page from the cavemen—don't go too far from home.
The typical caveman couldn't afford to travel very far on a daily basis.
For starters, there was too much to do to waste precious minutes strolling through the forests to distant fields. Hunting and gathering is labor intensive, and it's not like there was a lot of idle time to be spent in non-productive ways.
This was before the times of the modern farm that is designed as a huge operation to feed people hundreds of miles away. The goal was to get done what needed to be done and bring the results back home quickly, so cave dwellers had to be prepared for consumption or storage as fast as possible. Time spent on the journey was time wasted.
Obviously, working from home wasn't the same in the Paleolithic Era as it is today. The attraction wasn't the ability to spend all day in your pajamas watching TV during slow periods and drinking orange juice out of the carton (not that those things aren't fun).
Rather, there was so much to get done, and so few modern tools that we take for granted to do them with, that staying close by was the option that made the most sense.
In contemporary life, we don't lack for tools. Most of us could easily work from home now, at least part of the time. The power in even the lowliest home computer is revolutionary compared to the office of a generation ago. And that, ironically, makes it more able to work as our caveman ancestors did.
Staying home makes sense, at least for those in office jobs who spend most of their day at a desk. What is the purpose of traveling long distances by car, wasting time and gas and damaging the environment, to do something that could easily be done at home?
Meetings can occur via videoconferencing or in online chat rooms. The phone can be used when someone wants to be doubly sure a message is heard and understood.
Apart from the fact that "it's not how we've always done things," there's often no good reason for companies not to allow employees to telecommute much of the time.
In fact, office-based employment is not really how we've always done things. The office is a modern invention that would seem ludicrous to our caveman ancestors.
Our work to leisure ratio would also make cavemen prefer their own times. Some studies indicate they had to work as few as four hours per week. Just four hours! And that's while providing for their family's needs.
Working from home would allow us to regain some attributes that cavemen took for granted. We'd have extra time in the day to do whatever needed doing, whether those duties were work-related or fulfilling family needs.
Looking to the past as a blueprint for the future can help make that elusive concept known as "work-life balance" easier to achieve for everyone.
Alfablue, May 2012