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Online Life

Old 07-06-15, 08:19 PM
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Online Life

Do any of you have experience with working from home ... connecting to your "office" online or other methods of working from home?

Or what about acquiring education online? Are your children taught through an online school? Are you getting your next degree through online education?

I'm sure most of us shop online to some extent ... bicycle parts delivered to your door every few weeks ... but are you able to do all your shopping online? Do any of you do your grocery shopping online?


[HR][/HR]

I would love to work from home, and actually, the work I do could be done from home if my office were willing to set me up for that. I would likely have to go into the office about once a week for meetings or to pick stuff up, but the rest of what I do could be done from the comfort of my home. And my work situations have been like that for years.

However, none of the places I've worked supports that idea. They've all required their employees to turn up to the office most of the time.

If your place of employment has gone through a transition from being office-based to home-based ... tell us about it.


As for school, I have encountered some Grades 1-12 online education options. As part of my teaching practicum, I spent a day here: St. Gabriel Online School | St. Gabriel Learning Centre ... and I might be interested in teaching at something similar, but these sorts of places are not common. Not yet anyway.

When you get up into post-secondary education, again, most colleges and universities require attendance in classes. There are, of course, some schools like the Athabasca University in Alberta Athabasca University : Canada's Leader in Online & Distance Education where students can get degrees online, but these are also not common. Not yet anyway.

My own current university offers part of each course online ... I had a collection of 15 modules I needed to complete online ... and they post the lectures online, but they do still require in-class attendance for the bulk of the course.

Have you acquired education through online courses?


[HR][/HR]

And here's a question ...

If more things like work and education were to be online, our need for transportation may be reduced (thus the link to "living car free or light") but would a shift to an online life change architecture?

For example:

Large office buildings might not be needed. Offices might consist of a reception area, several meeting rooms, and a small collection of offices for those who have come in for half a day to pick stuff up or attend meetings rather than the current setup of an office for every staff member.

And what about houses? If husband, wife, and three kids are all at home instead of going off to work or school, would homes be built with additional rooms for office space?

[HR][/HR]

Several of you here enjoy speculating ... what do you imagine might be some changes if our lives were to go completely, or almost completely online?
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Old 07-06-15, 09:01 PM
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I first started working from home when a company I worked for closed their offices in the U.S. That didn't last long.

From personal observation I've learned that there is a lot of communication that gets lost if everyone is online. There are times when a co-worker says, "Uh oh" and I know exactly what has happened. I don't need to wait for an edited version of the story via email.

And working online is more lonely. No conversation sessions that promote bonding.
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Old 07-06-15, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Do any of you have experience with working from home ... connecting to your "office" online or other methods of working from home?
Or what about acquiring education online? ?
On line education and work has been popular in most parts of Ohio for many years. I got on line advanced training and certification myself back in 2001. Many people work on line part or full time.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I would love to work from home, and actually, the work I do could be done from home if my office were willing to set me up for that. ?
Set you up? What does that mean? What would need set-up?

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
And here's a question ...
And what about houses? If husband, wife, and three kids are all at home instead of going off to work or school, would homes be built with additional rooms for office space??
Are you thinking two dimensionally? If working with digital cloud based data.... what "space" does that require? When I go cycling... I often forward my [home] land-line phone calls to my mobile phone. But it doesn't require any extra space (or weight).

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Several of you here enjoy speculating ... what do you imagine might be some changes if our lives were to go completely, or almost completely online?
Much of my work/retirement life is on-line. I mean even back 30 years ago... most business was conducted via phone and fax machines. Now its email/text/phone/and video phone. (Work related) Human contact will always be “nice” but rarely needed.

Doctor visits will become mostly on line. Now-a-days I can call the doctors office if I don't feel well. If they have a spot/appointment they'll slip me in. If not the doctor calls me back. There is no reason why that can't won't be a video call in the near future. And if we can video chat and get decent results... why should I, or ether of us, drag ourselves to the office?

Computers aren't the big beige boxes they once were. With the advance of cloud base voice recognition even just a modern phone can do what most office apps need done. So a tablet may be all anyone really needs... if not today... soon. And the office desk and chair can be replaced with a bicycle mounted on a trainer.... or a big comfy easy-chair.

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Old 07-06-15, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
.... And working online is more lonely....
What an interesting statement. I would think that working alone... is completely lonely. But a friend of mine shared with me the same problem... about being a truck driver.

And there is the rub! Working on-line does require computer/technical skills. Of course... nothing gets pasted to the "administrative assistance" ether. So really good office/data management skills are also required. And you have to be a good learner... self-trainer.

But the biggest most important factor in an on-line employee is that they have their own social network skills. Maybe someone from the area where they live with a large group of friends and family.... or someone in a family relationship. Because humans require human relationships... and you don't get that from machines. And rarely do employers consider themselves responsible for employees personal life. And relationships are personal.
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Old 07-06-15, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
Are you thinking two dimensionally?
I'm thinking three dimensionally ... real life, not clouds.

Sure, we all use laptops and tablets and things now, which are portable and mean that we can work from anywhere, but if you've got a family situation where mom is working on an engineering project, and dad is working on a health information project for the local hospital, and a collection of kids in different grades, they aren't all going to want to sit around the living room. They are going to need quiet for concentration, and space for whatever stuff they need to do their job.

They'll also need space away from each other. One of the benefits of each going off to a job or school is distance from each other so that you're not glued to each other all the time. This is kind of the "other side of the coin" from Artkansas's comment about working online being more lonely.


And by "set up" I mean access to the programs, equipment, and other stuff I need to do my job.
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Old 07-06-15, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I'm thinking three dimensionally ... real life, not clouds.

Sure, we all use laptops and tablets and things now, which are portable and mean that we can work from anywhere, but if you've got a family situation where mom is working on an engineering project, and dad is working on a health information project for the local hospital, and a collection of kids in different grades, they aren't all going to want to sit around the living room. They are going to need quiet for concentration, and space for whatever stuff they need to do their job.
OK... before clouds... offices ran off servers... even though many employees didn't understand they were. You are thinking two dimensionally (sorry). Everyone is already in the house! Nothing changes. The "spaces" that your thinking about are constructs... preconceived ideas. The "desk" from the last century... has less and less usefulness.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
And by "set up" I mean access to the programs, equipment, and other stuff I need to do my job.
Really vague. If you are talking about proprietary programs and equipment... the employer may not be willing to let those out of their direct span of control (I wouldn't). If you're talking about the tools and software to do your job which are commercially available.... isn't that YOUR responsibility. Don't forget... once the employer goes on-line you're in competition with everyone in the world. Most of us have our own tools!

About three decades ago... there was a book called Future Shock by Alvin Toffler. You might want to read it (it is still available) and think about how your viewing the world.
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Old 07-07-15, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
But the biggest most important factor in an on-line employee is that they have their own social network skills.
Would you be an example of a person with these online social skills?
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Old 07-07-15, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
OK... before clouds... offices ran off servers... even though many employees didn't understand they were. You are thinking two dimensionally (sorry). Everyone is already in the house! Nothing changes. The "spaces" that your thinking about are constructs... preconceived ideas. The "desk" from the last century... has less and less usefulness.
The thing is ... everyone is not already in the house. The more common situation is that the family scatters. Parents go off to individual jobs in different locations, kids go to different classrooms and sometimes different schools. This can accomplish a couple things: 1) there's an old adage that says, "absence makes the heart grow fonder" ... when a family spends time apart they may appreciate each other more when they get get back together again; 2) interacting with people other than immediate family broadens horizons and introduces new perspectives.

If the situation changes so that the whole family can remain at home, the social dynamic changes. If the family is to spend time apart, they need their own spaces to work within the home.

In addition, one of the difficulties people express about working from home is that it is too much like home and not enough like work, and they have trouble concentrating. One solution to that is to have a designated workplace, like a home office, which is separate from the living room, the room where the TV is, and the sleeping room. A suggestion I've read or heard on a few occasions is to have the home office in an out-building (perhaps converting the garage, or building something in the backyard) so that there is a clear distinction between the place where work takes place and the place where relaxation and family time takes place.

That's all very well and good if one person works from home, or if you're single ... but what happens when you've got a whole family working or going to school from home?


And of course the other side of the social dynamic is the aspect of loneliness ... even if you have family relationships. There is a different kind of bond created between people who work together, between peers. You can talk to colleagues/peers about the projects you are working on in a way you cannot talk to your family.



Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
Really vague. If you are talking about proprietary programs and equipment... the employer may not be willing to let those out of their direct span of control (I wouldn't).
Yes.

And there is also the issue of privacy. I deal with information with huge privacy issues ... so much so, that my office is currently building a set of walls and doors which we'll all have to use swipe cards to get through to go from one end of the building to the other.

While I could do the work I do from home, privacy is probably the biggest reason why my office will not likely ever set me up to do so.
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Old 07-07-15, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Would you be an example of a person with these online social skills?
LOL. I posted: "But the biggest most important factor in an on-line employee is that they have their own social network skills". NOT, on-line social skills. Interesting... that you read that backwards.

I joined my first forum many years ago when my employer setup a private forum (actually more of a white board). It was to assist with distribution of skills, and mentoring advice, as well as create a data base of best practices. The idea was to solve problems and share (record) solutions using on-line group input.

I understand many people use todays on-line "communities/forums" as a way to create virtual relationships. That is NOT what I meant. I mean just almost exactly... the opposite.

Successful work at home, work on-line people, will likely need real humans in their private real-life... lives. Family, friends, others in various forms of fellowship (church, clubs, social/volunteer organizations etc.).

Without these social skills and activities many "normal"... albeit socially shy people... can still forge enough human relationships at a conventional worksite to maintain a level of emotional health. However... these people will likely have difficulties when faced with health issues, injuries, or retirement, that takes them away from the work-place. Working in the isolation of an on-line environment would not be a good move for those without good real-life, non-work related relationships.

If your 10 best friends aren't people that you know from somewhere other than work. Or if your best friends aren't people you see face-to-face regularly. An isolated work environment may be emotionally risky.
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Old 07-07-15, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
I first started working from home when a company I worked for closed their offices in the U.S. That didn't last long.

From personal observation I've learned that there is a lot of communication that gets lost if everyone is online. There are times when a co-worker says, "Uh oh" and I know exactly what has happened. I don't need to wait for an edited version of the story via email.

And working online is more lonely. No conversation sessions that promote bonding.

And so I wonder if it would work to arrange for specific departments to come into the office for a day once a week or once every other week. That would be the day for meetings and in-person information exchanges.

An office containing 100 people divided into several different departments would not need to have 100 offices or cubicles like they currently have to house everyone ... they might only need a dozen offices or cubicles, just enough to house one department on that department's in-office day.


As mentioned above, I agree about the loneliness. I've been in situations where I've been working on a project with a group of people, and we're all on the same wavelength and there's a certain bond. You can talk to each other and everyone understands ... but if you try to talk to a friend who doesn't work there and isn't involved in the project, you just can't.
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Old 07-07-15, 08:05 AM
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I think it's great if more people do more work from home. Less traffic, less pollution, less wasted time, less stress.

It's not new. In the [edit] 18th century there was a demand for British textiles so merchants recruited housewives/farmwives all around the UK to meet the need by working at home (hence "cottage industry"). The merchant would provide the loom and drop off the yarn or thread, then pick up the finished product. The women were paid a pittance but they didn't have to commute or pay for child care, and they could work at their own pace and perhaps work more through the winter when there were fewer farm chores to attend to.

Mind you if the modern home worker is drawing up a complex contract, or talking to clients by phone or skype, it's a little less convenient to have your kid wailing in the crib at your elbow, than it was for those weavers.

At my office, I do 4-5 hours a week of consulting by videoconference. It's a dedicated high-bandwidth system that is separate from the regular computer network and (was) separate from the internet for security reasons; but there are a handful of consultants set up with equipment at home and of course this is going to continue to develop and expand. Originally I was offered a home set up, and I turned it down because the provider wanted me to guarantee I would use it 30 hours a month, before they set up the expensive connection, and I can't give that assurance. I'm not sure if they had to bring actual wiring to my home, or somehow piggybacked on the existing TV or phone cables. However they now can do a virtual network within the internet, so perhaps I no longer need to promise 30 hours a month - I might look into that. if I did a 5 hour telecom session and a couple more hours doing general email clearing and report writing, that would add up to pretty much a full day.

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Old 07-07-15, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
..... If the situation changes so that the whole family can remain at home, the social dynamic changes. If the family is to spend time apart, they need their own spaces to work within the home.

In addition, one of the difficulties people express about working from home is that it is too much like home and not enough like work, and they have trouble concentrating. One solution to that is to have a designated workplace, like a home office, which is separate from the living room, the room where the TV is, and the sleeping room. A suggestion I've read or heard on a few occasions is to have the home office in an out-building (perhaps converting the garage, or building something in the backyard) so that there is a clear distinction between the place where work takes place and the place where relaxation and family time takes place.
I think you're trying to force a new situation into an old paradigm. That never really works. Put square pegs in the square holes... and round pegs in the round holes ONLY. Hammering and pounding won't make the square pegs fit in the round holes.

The social dynamic of a family is always in flux. Not changing will not make the family dynamic static.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
.....That's all very well and good if one person works from home, or if you're single ... but what happens when you've got a whole family working or going to school from home?
The old ways... and old ways of thinking... must to be discarded. Our paradigms can become as hard (and as much a part of us) as our bones. If that is the case... in your case... on-line may have come too late for you in your life.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
And of course the other side of the social dynamic is the aspect of loneliness ... even if you have family relationships. There is a different kind of bond created between people who work together, between peers. You can talk to colleagues/peers about the projects you are working on in a way you cannot talk to your family.
I am unfamiliar with that concept.

However I do find a fellowship in similarly aged men... not something I get from children or a wife. I am currently in the ultimate "work(?) at home" situation. I am retired.

Sooner or later those work relationships will dissolve (although maybe never evaporate). The bicycle ride you take this afternoon may produce injuries that exclude you from ever returning to the workplace. I am actually saddened to imagine that your happiness might actually be somehow grounded in some temporary condition... like a worksite.

Maybe.... you should throw a party this weekend. Friendships require effort.... just like everything else of worth. Invite only non-worksite friends, family, and acquaintances. Maybe you have more human relationships than you realize. Maybe that side of your life needs a little more work. It is an appropriate thing to consider when thinking of working at home.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
And there is also the issue of privacy. I deal with information with huge privacy issues ...
On-line security isn't that difficult. The IT people where you work would have the answers to your security questions.

Last edited by Dave Cutter; 07-07-15 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 07-07-15, 08:19 AM
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Interestingly, on a couple of occasions I've seen comments here on bikeforums from retirees or people newly working from home, that they miss their bike commute, and are having a hard time keeping up their time on the bike.
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Old 07-07-15, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
....... It's not new. In the 17th century there was a demand for British textiles so merchants recruited housewives/farmwives all around the UK to meet the need by working at home (hence "cottage industry"). The merchant would provide the loom and drop off the yarn or thread, then pick up the finished product. The women were paid a pittance but they didn't have to commute or pay for child care, and they could work at their own pace and perhaps work more through the winter when there were fewer farm chores to attend to......
OMG... you really should read a little history!!! Where did you get that from TV?!?!?!?
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Old 07-07-15, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
OMG... you really should read a little history!!! Where did you get that from TV?!?!?!?
Why, is it wrong?
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Old 07-07-15, 09:26 AM
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I think Machka has brought up a lot of the key issues. A few other things to consider are hardware and insurance. If your job is keyboard or graphics heavy you may need a proper ergonomic setup and/or graphical input equipment and if you are an employee it would be reasonable to expect your employer to furnish those. If you are working at home using your employer-provided workstation and you get injured, is it your employer or home insurance that covers it? If you have a company-approved home office in a shed on your property, can you bill part of your heating or air-conditioning costs to the employer? Some companies or jurisdictions may already have this worked out, but there are probably a lot of these legal and bureaucratic issues that need to be clarified.
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Old 07-07-15, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
I think Machka has brought up a lot of the key issues. A few other things to consider are hardware and insurance. If your job is keyboard or graphics heavy you may need a proper ergonomic setup and/or graphical input equipment and if you are an employee it would be reasonable to expect your employer to furnish those. If you are working at home using your employer-provided workstation and you get injured, is it your employer or home insurance that covers it? If you have a company-approved home office in a shed on your property, can you bill part of your heating or air-conditioning costs to the employer? Some companies or jurisdictions may already have this worked out, but there are probably a lot of these legal and bureaucratic issues that need to be clarified.
Tax regulations might need some tweaking also.
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Old 07-07-15, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
Interestingly, on a couple of occasions I've seen comments here on bikeforums from retirees or people newly working from home, that they miss their bike commute, and are having a hard time keeping up their time on the bike.
I too have seen those comments on BF. Seems that many of that type, especially on the 50+ thread come from posters who seem to be obsessed with reaching mileage and/or time (sometimes described as "training") goals they have arbitrarily set for themselves and seem to be driven by OCD-like tendencies.
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Old 07-07-15, 10:01 AM
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Around 15 years ago I became self-employed and began working from home. 15 years later I'm still here

There are many pros and cons of the WAH lifestyle, how easily you can identify with each will depend a lot on your personality and how you generally interact with other humans.

Some of the pros are -

- set your own schedule / hours
- little or no commuting
- more efficient in terms of car-time not contributing to the overall working week
- more portable when you do decide to travel. I can easily take my work with me when I go off on a cycling jaunt somewhere (though I rarely do take my full setup with me, just a smartphone for email)
- lower overhead cost - no office space to rent

Some of the cons -
- more isolation, less social interaction
- more difficult to share and propagate ideas
- difficult to separate work life from family life, if you're not careful one may overtake the other
- always 'there' - customers get into the habit of expecting you to pick-up 24/7
- no boundaries / borders - 'going to work' and 'leaving work' creates a mental connection/disconnection which is important. You need to be able to leave work behind, so having a physical disconnect can be critical to your mental health.

Those are a few points.

Basically I think working from home is largely overrated. At one point about 10 years ago I took my business into a retail/bricks and mortar environment just to break free from the house. I'd found myself becoming completely consumed by work - I'd start at 7am and 12 hours later I'd still be at it, still in my pyjamas!! Of course this is partly to do with self-employment, it may not be quite the same issue were I working for someone else where I could create a more structured environment for work.

I knew a guy many years ago who worked from home and grew to hate it. He finally cracked it by converting a garage into an office space. Each morning he'd shower, dress in suit and tie, pick up his briefcase, bid farewell to the wife and kids, then walk off down the garden path to the garage/office to begin his day at work. It sounded nonsensical at the time but I can relate to it now.
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Old 07-07-15, 10:03 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
I too have seen those comments on BF. Seems that many of that type, especially on the 50+ thread come from posters who seem to be obsessed with reaching mileage and/or time (sometimes described as "training") goals they have arbitrarily set for themselves and seem to be driven by OCD-like tendencies.
I didn't get that sense. More that they recognize how biking to work allowed them to "effortlessly" get some exercise, and now they have to "work" to get it.
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Old 07-07-15, 10:20 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
I didn't get that sense. More that they recognize how biking to work allowed them to "effortlessly" get some exercise, and now they have to "work" to get it.
I imagine that would be true for those who considered using their own bike for transportation was an undesirable "effort" or "work" but worthwhile only due to the exercise benefit.

I don't think it would apply to someone who biked to places and destinations for pleasure, and as an adjunct accumulated miles and time on a bike, but does apply to those who viewed bicycling as an exercise duty requiring the tracking of mileage and time spent "working" to reach self imposed targets.
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Old 07-07-15, 10:36 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
I imagine that would be true for those who considered using their own bike for transportation was an undesirable "effort" or "work" but worthwhile only due to the exercise benefit.

I don't think it would apply to someone who biked to places and destinations for pleasure, and as an adjunct accumulated miles and time on a bike, but does apply to those who viewed bicycling as an exercise duty requiring the tracking of mileage and time spent "working" to reach self imposed targets.
I enjoy biking to work, but I probably wouldn't need to ride 14 miles of errands every week day if I wasn't going to work every day, so I'd have to deliberately find ways to replace that exercise. Where do I fit in your classification system?
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Old 07-07-15, 10:59 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
I enjoy biking to work, but I probably wouldn't need to ride 14 miles of errands every week day if I wasn't going to work every day, so I'd have to deliberately find ways to replace that exercise. Where do I fit in your classification system?
Dunno, do you ride about principally to reach arbitrary mileage goals?
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Old 07-07-15, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
I enjoy biking to work, but I probably wouldn't need to ride 14 miles of errands every week day if I wasn't going to work every day, so I'd have to deliberately find ways to replace that exercise.
When I work from home, I just don't get the bicycling that I do when I have to commute. It takes time and I'm lazy. I have my "work at home commute" that is about 13 miles. But if I get a deadline, that goes out the window and it's harder to convince myself that I need to do the ride in the following days. There's something to be said for having to get somewhere that prompts a bicycle commute.
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Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 07-07-15, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Dunno, do you ride about principally to reach arbitrary mileage goals?
Would that make me an inferior person or object of scorn in your estimation if I did?

The answer to your question is no. I'm a bit overweight and kind of lazy so I found that biking to work, which is much more pleasurable than driving or public transit, has been a great boon. I enjoy it and it helps me maintain a moderate level of fitness. I sometimes do errands by bike on the weekend, but if I go out with my wife it's always by car due to her choice, and I sometimes do longer rec rides on the weekend (30 km or so - ie. 20 miles) for a mixture of enjoyment and fitness.

If I worked from home I wouldn't automatically have a reason to bike 14 miles a day, so I would have to to deliberately do some kind of exercise to maintain my current moderate level of fitness. Some of that might involve pleasure biking.
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