This article examines the early telecommuting discourse of the 1980s and 1990s, understanding it as a pedagogical context for white plasticity, an ecological project in which racial privilege is protected through the transformation of homes and inhabitants. Rationalized initially as a crisis of adjustment, pedagogies of telecommuting were disseminated largely to upper-middle-class white professionals to build a “telecommuting personality,” a subjectivity that was also meant to buffer them from the growing precarious nature of jobs. Not content to focus simply on work, however, telecommuting gurus took occasion to urge the enhancement of relationships between partners, families, and communities. The home office was core to this imaginary. Convertible, modular, ergonomic home offices that can be changed to suit the needs of the home's many inhabitants were said to yield more integrated and rounded personalities that would radiate outward, creating emotionally mature children and stronger community bonds. Emerging at a moment when “telecommuting” condensed the political stakes of digital labor, this strand of discourse reveals how working from home was appropriated to ensure the protection of white plasticity—the racialized capability of adaptation that was to be passed as inheritance from parents to progeny.

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