Barefoot and working

This is my 2nd full week working from home with my new job. The transition out from the on-campus-office grind was quick and painless. I am happy to be settled into the new routine in my home office.

I can do laundry on a Tuesday. I won’t need to take a day off for a 20min visit to the dentist’s office. Coffee is cheap. Shoes are optional. But there are challenges, too. I need to put in extra effort to connect with new colleagues so they can get to know me, and trust me. I need to learn to manage my time so I don’t end up working 12hr days (it is easy to lose track of time). And according to a recent study, I’ll need to pay attention to processes surrounding evaluation and promotion when the time comes.

My last day at Brown

When I communicate with my office-bound colleagues, the first thing they ask about is if I am enjoying working from home. My response is enthusiastic. I can admit there is a pang of sadness when the conversation turns their way and I learn about the office shenanigans I left behind – both the bad and the good news makes me miss it a little bit. Working side-by-side with people makes you feel good and productive, and it makes you feel included. Even if the work is less than glamorous, like when I volunteered to set up tables and folding chairs for a street fair last fall; it was boring and laborious, but the people made it good. Camaraderie cannot be undervalued.

The best part of working from home is the ability to create a personalized office atmosphere through real-time web communication technology. Throughout my day, I keep several communication channels open, connected to my global network of colleagues and friends. On one channel, I get traditional office chatter including gossip and mildly amusing community revelations. On another, I get hallway conversations peppered with industry news and breakthroughs. On a third, I encounter a community of like-minded individuals who challenge me to do more, learn more and be more. Working from home allows me to craft the type of atmosphere I prefer.

There will be times I feel deeply disconnected from my colleagues. There will be times I miss out on some important piece of information, even if it falls under the category of office chatter. I will not be included in tension-breaker activities like smoothie runs, and I will miss office parties and Cake Day. I’ll have to figure out some ways to surprise myself with a box of sweet potato fries on my desk (thanks, Hong!) or break a long project cycle with something unexpected like a half-day disc golf challenge (are you up for it, Chris?).

I am comfortable in my new routine. I slid into it easily.  I am productive in my own way, on my own schedule. I get plenty of fresh air since my office windows open in this building. YES! My car sits idly in the driveway; no more 500mi/week commute (which also means that I have time for exercise). And I get a lot of work done – a lot of work done – even if I don’t have shoes on.

About clsaarinen

i make great soup.

Posted on August 23, 2012, in working from home and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

    • Karl, that paper circulated amongst the IT department where I worked (ahem, it may have been me that started it). Discussion about work life issues ensued and a few meetings about alternative work agreements occurred. However, the only visible result was that several people ended up having the ergonomics guy visit their office and assess their work space to suggest methods to alleviate physical and mental strain caused by sitting at a desk all day. New chairs, foot rests and monitor risers for everyone!

      I think it is funny that solutions proposed by organizations center around *maintaining* the traditional 9-5 job in a traditional office space. Why don’t people come up with more creative solutions?

      • We’ve long know about organizational DNA – attitudes and aptitudes deeply embedded in the collective minds. If the DNA says that virtual work is good or at least tolerable, the business will find ways of making it work. If the DNA is about office presence, then the forces align to make that happen.

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