OPINION | Are cars the new offices?

Sometimes I work from my car.

It’s not glamorous, but it’s quiet, comfortable and I can charge my phone if I run the engine for a bit. And I don’t have to buy a coffee to be allowed to sit there for hours on end.

This is what my car office would be like if I had a chauffeur...

This is what my car office would be like if I had a chauffeur...

It’s not that I don’t have an office, or a home for that matter. But sometimes I have kids to run to dancing or footy, and my employers are flexible enough to let me work from carparks and sidelines. (I really hope they knew I did that, because I guess the cat’s now out of the bag.)

A car is almost the ultimate private space. Yes, I realise it has windows, but it’s practically soundproof, you can lock the doors and if it’s dark, no one can see in very easily. Also, they can’t sneak up on you (see, windows work both ways).

Michelle Haines Thomas

Michelle Haines Thomas

I’ve cried in my car, screamed in my car, sung at the top of my voice (so, really hoping it is in fact soundproof). I’ve had long, deep conversations with friends when we almost forget where we are.

Your car is like a bubble of safety, albeit made of metal and fake leather (well, that’s what mine’s made of, anyway).

I guess that explains why people are so loath to give them up (that and the terrible public transport in regional Australia). They become an extension of our own bodies, with everything on tap - music, a spot for your Keep Cup, and climate control at the touch of a button. They could even be considered a “room of one’s own”, to use Virginia Woolf’s phrase, though hardly the sort that the genteel Virginia imagined.

Sadly, it’s more than an erstwhile office for some. There are homeless people bedding down on the back seat in towns all over Australia, and you’d never know their car is also their mobile home.

Mind you, given the amount of second-hand clothing (bagged up to put in the charity bin – it’ll only take me three months to remember), folding chairs, water bottles, muesli bars, forgotten sunhats and so on that fill my boot and decorate the interior, I could probably live out of my car for a week or so as well.

If it only had a built in espresso maker, I could probably even stretch to a month.