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April 4, 2019

A look back: The downside of working remotely

In the February 1996 issue of Mainebiz, a columnist wrote about a blizzard that had the effect of showing people the future — one where workers could work from home, dialed into the new internet. She cited a story of a Lotus Software executive who logged onto his laptop and worked from his home study in Cambridge, Mass., and even joined his daughters for lunch.

“It sounded idyllic. No commute. The virtual workplace could be efficient, comfortable and satisfying,” Rose Moss wrote, but she also noted cracks in the idyllic work-from-home economy: “Even the Lotus executive talked about wanting to get back to conversations in hallways.”

“In cyberspace, we lose a sense of membership in multiple communities,” she wrote. “No need to look anyone in the eye. Like people in isolated communities, regulars in cyberspace can reinforce one another without jostling.”

Fun fact: From the February 1996 Mainebiz, an ad for the Victory Deli & Bake Shop on Monument Square in Portland promised two eggs, home fries and toast for $1.89. Brian Boru advertised pints of Guinness for $1.50 at its Sunday brunch.

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