February 26, 2013 by Dragonfly Diva
Years ago I got up early every morning rushed around getting ready to hit the bus stop and the long ride downtown to the office where I worked. Then in 2005 I got a job working for a company in another town. The totally awesome part was that I didn’t have to move, I would be able to telecommute and work from home. While I was sad to leave a company I’d worked for seven years, I was so excited to try this new approach to an office.
Fast forward almost eight years and know that if I had to start commuting to an office each day I would, but I would rather not! During that eight years I even changed employers again…this time to one located clear across the state, but still I was able to keep my home office. My job is now to supervise other telecommuting staff located in the area, which is much easier if I’m located near their home offices.
Although I’ve been so busy these last couple days that I have not had a chance to really watch the news, it seems as though at least one company out there is in the news for pulling all their employees back into a centralized office and a 9 to 5 schedule. Or, maybe it was just one writer for one paper or magazine who wrote suggesting this option as a way to cut business costs that has hit a nerve with a portion of the country. I’ll admit I’ve not investigated further, but there is no need to. I can say without a doubt that I totally disagree with whatever bottom line is being presented. Let me share a little about what being a remotely located employee has meant for me and the company I work for:
- When the job needs a little more of me I can easily give more, and when my family needs a little more of me I can easily switch it up to give them a bit more of my time. For example, over the last couple of months a project that I’ve been heading up was getting ready to launch and after the launch there was a need to provide support to new users of the online tool. This required preparation and sometimes longer hours than usual to allow me to get all my normal daily tasks done as well as spend more time on this special project. So instead of starting my day with a cup of coffee at 5:30 and taking an hour or so of checking in on friends on Facebook, reading, blogging and waking up slowly, I’d hop on the work computer and do some routine tasks, answer emails that had come in overnight, read reports, etc. Or after stopping work at 4:30 to do a couple of loads of laundry and fix dinner, I’d head back into the office and put in another couple of hours. If I had to travel to an office to work, those early morning and late evening hours would not happen, or if they did, my personal life would suffer. Because I work from home, I’m available to both important facets of my life. When my son has a half day at school, or is sick, I don’t have to stress over what to do, because I’m there. I work, I check in on him, he comes to me when he needs something, etc. He knows when my office door is closed I’m on a call and unless he’s bleeding, or the house is on fire, I’m to be left alone til I open the door. When I was getting over the flu last month, I only missed three days of work. Oh there were days in the first couple weeks where I still felt drained, but heck…I can work in my bathrobe if I need to. (I will tell you that I will drag my feet for a LOOONNGG time over implementing video conferences!) Not only will I need to keep a cleaner office, but heck I’ll have to go back to being “made up pretty” each day…but I digress.
- My employer saves money and I save money. Our company doesn’t have to pay for office space for all of us, and to heat it and to supply the electricity and furniture. I provide that for my office. Yes, they reimburse me for some expenses like phone, fax and internet costs, but that is way cheaper that all the rest. Plus since our work occurs all over our state if we were all located near the home office the mileage checks for work related travel would be astronomical. And I save. I don’t have to have a huge dress up wardrobe any more. Jeans, sweats, yoga gear, are the choices for office days now. I don’t have to drive to work every day and pay to park, or purchase bus passes. No more eating out at lunch when I just don’t feel like packing one. Now if I don’t feel like fixing something, I pull a frozen dinner out of the freezer, but mostly its left overs from last night’s dinner. It’s a win/win situation.
- I am more productive. When you work in an office, seriously, how much time is spent in conversation with colleagues? True, dedicated employees spend little time in idle chit, chat, but even when it is work related, conversation takes up time. On days when my staff are all out in the field and I’m in the office I get so much done. Few emails come in, the phone doesn’t ring except early morning or late in the afternoon. This allows me, most often, to spend EXTRA time with them on the phone when we do talk, because I’ve gotten so much done during those quiet hours that I didn’t have as often in an office setting. And I am more productive at home too. What used to be a two-minute break to go to the staff lounge to get a cup of coffee is now used to throw a load of laundry in, or to put those last dishes in the dishwasher and run it so we have clean silverware for dinner. When I’m really having a rocking week where I’m in the office most days, I can see how much I’ve done for work by how many things I crossed off my to do list, and our families laundry is done before the weekend even arrives.
So that picture up there is totally me…well I don’t put my feet on the desk, but a bowl of cereal and a seriously comfortable pair of pajama pants are what the beginning of my work day often look like. I don’t believe the quality or quantity of my work has changed from when I worked in an office building, in fact I think I’ve improved in the past eight years, partially because I have a lot more flexibility than I did before. It helps me tip the work/life balance scale in whatever direction it needs to go at any given time, and that would be a really hard thing to give up. Do you work from home? Full time or part-time? If so, what are the positives, for you and your company? Do you find any drawbacks?