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The White House is the Ultimate Home Office

About a month ago I posted a blog about financial lessons we can all learn from President Barack Obama. After reading a recent interview with Michelle Obama, I realized I'd left something out. Despite holding down two of the busiest jobs in the country, the First Couple appear to successfully balance work and family life. How do they juggle so well? They both work out of home offices.

In a recent issue of People Magazine, the First Lady argues that moving into the White House was a surprise blessing for her family. Rather than tearing her nuclear unit apart, it's actual brought them closer together. That's because the President and First Lady essentially "work from home", and daughters Sasha and Malia now get to eat breakfast and dinner with their parents most days.

Michelle Obama's comments got me thinking, especially as I enjoyed spending more time with my own family over the Memorial Day holiday. If the President and First Lady can successfully do their jobs from home, why can't the rest of us? Sure, an argument can be made that their colleagues work out of the White House too. But certainly with the Internet and cell phones, most of us could manage to communicate with our coworkers from just about anywhere.

While I think achieving a better work life balance is priceless, there are also some very strong arguments for why working from home is beneficial financially, even if you telecommute just one or two days a week.

  • Second, you could spend less on child care. Parents who spend two hours a day commuting could potentially save more than $1,000 a year if they pay a sitter $10 an hour.
  • Finally, you could spend less by eating more lunches at home and cutting out a portion of your dry cleaning bill. Saving just $5 a week on a sandwich and another $5 on a pressed shirt and you'll have an extra $500 a year for other expenses.
To be fair, there are some serious downsides to full time telecommuting, especially during a recession when it seems like the worker who doesn't get face time with the boss is often among those who gets let go during a round of layoffs. But many parents would be thrilled to telecommute just one or two days a week so they can make a son's baseball game on a regular basis or eat dinner together as a family.

Unfortunately, it's often the boss who needs the convincing, not the parents. But surely, if the President can manage to successfully "work from home" all the time, we could all manage to do our jobs well telecommuting just once or twice a week.

White House image by dcjohn, C.C. 2.0.