Working from home

When you tell people you work from home 100% many of them respond with, “So that means you can work in your pajamas right.”  I’ve often wondered whether pajamas is code for “Naked,” but that’s not really the point of they’re making… or is it? The biggest assumption people make about working from home is that it’s easy and a cake walk compared to being harnessed to a cubicle and thrown into the area of corporate office politics.  The other reaction I’ve had, is disbelief. My father, for example, still doesn’t understand how the work-from-home arrangement works. He always asks, “But how do they know that you’re working?”  I ask back, “How did they know I was working in the cube farm?” My real answer to his question is, “They know I’m working because I get my work done.”  If I don’t deliver my projects on time and with good results, then I am not doing my job. It seems so simple, but there it is.

I remember having to fill task-tracking sheets and weekly status reports with multiple tables and stats that demonstrated what exactly I was doing with my time. If I wasn’t careful the stupid status reports and related metrics would take me at least 10% of my working time. I don’t think that that’s unusual in some office environments, and actually 10% is a conservative amount of time. I have encountered business groups or divisions that spent a good amount of their working hours tracking exactly what they did rather than ‘doing it.’ Sadly, in some corporate environments, this seemingly futile exercise is conducted for purely political and sometimes bureaucratic reasons.

Ugh… I feel myself shuddering with a form of PTSD just thinking about this… I digress.  I meant to focus mainly on the mechanics of working from home, and how it’s possible to be incredibly efficient and productive as well as connect and collaborate with others virtually. In response to Cass Nevada’s request, I’m going to share a bit about the tools and methods I (and my colleagues) use to work effectively with each other. I’m going to divide this series of posts into the following categories

  • Tools for communication and work – having good office collaboration tools really helps, and sometimes this means paying for them.
  • Work expectations/behaviors of the ideal virtual employee – working from home is not for everyone. Though there are some behaviors that one can learn in order to be an effective virtual worker/contributor
  • Drawbacks of working from home – believe it or not there are tons of drawbacks. After the first six months of 100% virtual work, I found myself joining social groups and clubs to balance not being able to go to lunch or engage in ‘water cooler talk’ with friends and workmates. In this section, I’ll touch upon some of the drawbacks and then discuss some of the possible options or remedies to these issues.

Cass, you’ll have to bear with me because I may take sometime to gather my thoughts together for each section.

Image from the Morguefile

Image from the Morguefile

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