NEW YORK — Nearly every office dweller fantasizes about the joys of working from home: Dressing in PJs instead of suits. Eating from the fridge and not the vending machine. Listening to birds chirp instead of the boss bark.

But Superstorm Sandy has created legions of people who can't wait to get back to the office.

They include parents who have struggled to juggle conference calls while their kids scream in the background. Also families who have fought for days over the use of a single home computer. And even executives who have conducted business with the only device they had with reliable Internet access: their smartphone.

About one-third of American workers work from home at least occasionally, according to Forrester Research. But massive flooding, power outages, transit shutdowns and school closings that followed Sandy forced thousands more from North Carolina to Maine to do so this week. And many learned that it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Michael Lamp, a social and digital media strategist who has been working out of his one-bedroom apartment in the Brooklyn borough of New York City because his office in the Manhattan borough is closed, sums it up on his Twitter page: "I'm getting sicker of it with every hour that passes. I might be slowly losing it."

Lamp, who converted his coffee table into a desk, says he longs for face-to-face interaction with his colleagues at Hunter Public Relations. And he's finding it particularly difficult to share his workspace with his live-in partner.

"I love him very much, but I would rather not see him 24 hours a day," says the 28-year-old, who proudly admits that he can't wait to greet his manager in the office. "I'm going to run to my boss's office and tell her I missed her face."

Dr. Alan Hilfer, director of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York, says it's normal to struggle with working from home. He says it "has its own set of difficulties" that people who don't do it often aren't always aware of.

"There are many more distractions than working in an office," he says. "Even people who do it on a regular basis find it much harder to structure and discipline their time."

Hilfer, who lives in Brooklyn and works in a hospital in Manhattan, knows the distractions firsthand. He was working at home on Thursday to avoid the difficult commute in the storm's aftermath. But he kept getting distracted by Sandy updates on TV, projects he needed to get done around the house and his wife asking questions about what she should get from the supermarket.

"I had a whole list of things this morning I intended to do working from home, and I got about half of them done," he says.

With some school districts cancelling classes for the week, children have become the biggest distraction for stranded employees who were working from home.

Brooklyn resident Deanna Zammit, a content director at media company Digiday, says she's grateful that her home and family were unscathed after Sandy. But she found herself overwhelmed when she had to work from home – and watch her son – Monday and Tuesday while her husband was away on a work trip.

"I've had to juggle taking care of a very energetic five-year old – who only wants to jump on the couch – and trying to get as much work done as possible under the situation," she says.

On Wednesday, with the added pressure of Halloween festivities, she gave up and took the day off. But on Thursday, she drove three hours to her parent's home in Westhampton, N.Y., so that she could finally get some work done at home.

"I kind of threw my hands up in the air and said I have to go to the only place I know that has free child care, and that is my parents' house," says Zammit, who acknowledges that she can't wait to get back to the office.

Drew Kerr, a public relations specialist, also was eager to return to work Wednesday morning after losing power at his home in Westchester, N.Y. on Monday.

A big challenge was keeping his two teenagers occupied. To prevent the family from getting cabin fever, Kerr went to a deli to charge up everyone's laptops. He says he even ate his corn beef sandwich and onion rings slowly, so the devices could get as much power as possible.

But the next morning, he decided he'd had enough of working from home. Trains were down, but he was determined to get to the office. So he woke up early, hopped into his car, and did just that. It felt great to be get back to the grind. He even bought a bagel along the way.

"It's just me and my bagel and a working computer," Kerr says. "It's nice to have heat. It's nice to have electricity."

Paul Costiglio, another Westchester, N.Y. resident who lost power Monday, also misses the office. While at home, he had to commandeer the family's sole laptop so he could use it for his job as the director of communications for the New Rochelle School District. He needed it to update the district's Web site on school cancellations and respond to reporters' inquiries.

He explained to his children – ages 5, 7 and 10 – that "Daddy needs it for work." Then, later, Costiglio, his wife and kids huddled around the laptop in the dark and cold to watch movies such as "Spy Kids 3."

Costiglio says while he's eager to return to work, he's not the only one: "My oldest (child) even said she'd rather be in school than home without power."

A lack of power also weighed on Samantha DiGennaro, who has been trying all week to run a 35-person public relations company through her smartphone. She was hit with a double whammy this week: There's no power at her home or office, which are both in lower Manhattan. Adding to her woes, about half of her staff also have been without power.

So DiGennaro has been using social media websites Facebook and LinkedIn to communicate and delegate tasks to her employees through her phone. And she's had to do that while constantly keeping an eye on the phone's draining battery.

"Doing everything mobile-y is very limiting, as much as we rely on mobile," she says. "Everything is taking triple or quadruple the amount of time that it ordinarily does ... I want to get out, get to the office and be 150 percent productive."

Similarly, Kathleen Webber, a journalism instructor at the College of New Jersey, can't wait to get back to work after having been without power since Monday at both her home in Yardley, Pa., and at the college's campus in Ewing, N.J.

Webber has had to be resourceful: She's been grading papers by candlelight. But she desperately wants to work online, so she's been on the hunt for free wireless Internet service. First, she tried her husband's office, only to find the cubicles filled up. Then, she ventured to her local library and restaurants. But there wasn't one empty seat.

Next Webber, the mother of three teenagers, plans to hit up friends for Internet access.

"I may have to freeload," she says.

_______

AP Business Writers Candice Choi and Christina Rexrode in New York contributed to this report.

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  • Michael Bloomberg

    New York Mayor Bloomberg took all the major precautions to keep New Yorkers safe. He ordered 3,750,000 people to vacate the low-lying areas across the five boroughs and ordered a complete shutdown of the mass transit system well before the storm even hit. According to the New York Times, he even calmly dealt with a huge <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/nyregion/crane-accident-at-one57-in-midtown.html?_r=0">crane poised to collapse </a>over a luxury skyscraper.

  • Power Workers

    While most people were advised to evacuate from Sandy's path of destruction, <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2012/10/30/hurricane-sandy-heroes-from-coast-guard-rescuers-to-red-cross-volunteers-photos.html?huff_e_query=%28red+cross+volunteers%29+%7C+%28shipwrecked+sailors%29+%7C+%28mayor+bloomberg%29+%7C+%28u+s+news%29&huff_e_sorting=recency#a4efc0e0-35ad-42d8-9b29-8aca40743719">power workers knowingly went into the thick of things</a>. According to the Daily Beast, more than 500 power workers came up from Alabama to assist in recovery efforts, and at least 150 came from the West Coast to help restore power in New York.

  • Cory Booker

    Newark Mayor Booker deployed a team in Newark to ensure that the homeless were able to find shelter at an emergency base on Sussex Avenue.

  • Cory Booker

    Newark Mayor Booker deployed a team in Newark to ensure that the homeless were able to find shelter at an emergency base on Sussex Avenue.

  • U.S. Coast Guard

    The crew of the HMS Bounty was forced to abandon ship as Hurricane Sandy slowly claimed the vessel. According to the Huffington Post, "by the time the first rescue helicopter arrived, all that was visible of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/hms-bounty-pirates-of-the-caribbean-hurricane-sandy_n_2037079.html">the replica 18th-century sailing vessel</a> was a strobe light atop the ship's submerged masts." The Coast Guard rescued 14 crew members by helicopter Monday.

  • Martin O'Malley

    Maryand Gov. O'Malley was determined not to let his state lose power. He preemptively told his state's utility providers to get help before the storm hits so they can be prepared. More than 3,000 emergency workers from other states have flooded in to help Pepco, the power company which serves both D.C. and Maryland. According to First Coast News, O'Malley also <a href="http://www.firstcoastnews.com/weather/article/279825/29/Maryland-Gov-Declares-State-Of-Emergency-before-Hurricane-Sandy">declared a state of emergency</a> even before the storm hit allowing the state the ability to activate the Maryland National Guard and provide assistance to local emergency centers.

  • Indiana Red Cross Volunteers

    As the East coast scrambled to prepare and respond to the destruction from Sandy, a crew of Indiana residents began a pilgrimage eastward to help. According to the Daily Beast, <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2012/10/30/hurricane-sandy-heroes-from-coast-guard-rescuers-to-red-cross-volunteers-photos.html?huff_e_query=%28red+cross+volunteers%29+%7C+%28shipwrecked+sailors%29+%7C+%28mayor+bloomberg%29+%7C+%28u+s+news%29&huff_e_sorting=recency#142b35af-f98a-41af-9044-bc1a7753ef6c">American Red Cross volunteers based in Indiana</a> journeyed late last week to Harrisburg, Penn., where they began staging rescue efforts for the storm that was to come in the next few days.

  • This New Jersey Resident

    After getting hit by a rogue wave on Monmouth Beach, New Jersey, this poor <a href="http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/strange/deer-caught-in-hurricane-sandy-surf-nd12">deer got swept out to sea</a> in the turbulent currents caused by Hurricane Sandy. A man who was also on the beach at the time of the wave was able to rescue the deer from the water, reported KXAN. It's suffering a broken leg, but is expected to recover in the custody of animal control.

  • Rich Eighme

    A Republican running for the General Assembly, Eighme, spent much of Sunday <a href="http://www.norwichbulletin.com/news/x1440167833/HURRICANE-SANDY-General-Assembly-candidate-hands-out-flashlights#axzz2AixswOI3">walking door to door handing out campaign flashlights</a> in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. A resident of Griswold, Conn., told the Norwich Bulletin that he focused on back roads that could possible lose power within the 45th District, which includes Griswold, Lisbon, Plainfield, Sterling and Voluntown.

  • The Good Samaritan New York Cabbie

    According to Curbed, one <a href="http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2012/10/30/one57_crane_collapse_sends_neighbors_fleeing_midtown.php">good samaritan New York cab driver</a> was "ferrying refugees all over the place," including several from the Parker Meridien where a crane dangled precariously over the building forcing residents to evacuate.

  • The Staff at New York University's Langone Medical Center

    According to the Atlantic Wire, when the power failed at New York University's Langone Medical Center, "approximately 1,000 hospital staffers (doctors, nurses, residents, and medical students), along with firefighters and police officers,<a href="http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2012/10/heroes-hurricane/58498/?huff_e_query=%28hurricane+national%29+%7C+%28heroes%29+%7C+%28new+york+city%29+%7C+%28faith%29&huff_e_sorting=recency"> carried 260 patients</a> down 15 flights of stairs, in the dark, with flashlights, to ambulances that transported them to other area hospitals."

  • Vern Gillmore

    According to the Huffington Post, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/hurricane-sandy-vern-gillmore-utah_n_2038607.html?ir=Impact">the 70-year-old Utah man</a> has been volunteering with his American Red Cross chapter for three years and was deployed Monday to help a small portion of some 50 million people who could be affected by the storm.

  • Breezy Point Firefighters

    According to the Huffington Post, a huge fire destroyed 80 to 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighborhood in New York on Tuesday. More than <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/30/breezy-point-fire_n_2043071.html">190 firefighters were able to contain the blaze</a> but were still putting out pockets of fire more than nine hours after it began. According to HuffPost, "Firefighters said that the water was chest high on the street, and they had to use a boat to make rescues. They said in one apartment home, about 25 people were trapped in an upstairs unit, and the two-story home next door was ablaze and setting fire to the apartment's roof. Firefighters climbed an awning to get to the trapped people and took them downstairs to a boat in the street."

  • Heroic New Jersey Dump Truck Driver

    According to NewJersey.com, thousands of Little Ferry and Moonachie residents were rescued from flooded homes this morning. While most residents were rescued by the National Guard, sisters Lori Turner and Sharon Cardia along with their families were rescued by an <a href="http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/10/thousands_rescued_from_bergen.html">anonymous good samaritan dump truck driver</a>.

  • New York Scuba Rescue Team

    Diane Sawyer talks to Terrance Sullivan about the incredible scuba response team.

  • Spencer Service

    According to Patch, a Flatbush, New York <a href="http://windsorterrace.patch.com/articles/hurri-kittens#c">man walked more than a mile in the face of Hurricane Sandy to save a litter of newborn kittens from the storm</a>. As the rain began to fall and the wind picked up speed, Service and his roommate headed downstairs, intending to shelter the fledgling feline family under a cardboard box. Service, however, didn't feel he had done enough to help the soaked kittens. He grabbed a cat carrier from his apartment, lined the bottom with t-shirts, and prepared to embark on the trek to a rescue facility, nearly two miles away from his Flatbush home, where he delivered the kittens unharmed. Note: this is not an actual photograph of the cats.