Fantastic suggestions to turning off… when necessary.
Another great blog post by the Alternative Workstyle guru herself…
This month I’m celebrating my 10-year anniversary as an official teleworker.
How time has flown… and changed… since then.
When I officially moved to my home office it was because I wanted to be my own boss, diversify my work, and have some flexibility. Most importantly, I wanted to be in control of everything: my career path, my time, and ultimately my life.
I’m not gonna’ lie, it was an adjustment that took about a year (or two?) to adapt to, and even then things weren’t quite right. Yes, there are people who are well suited for remote working, who transition into it seamlessly; but, like anything, this requires great planning and organization. There are then, of course, those who aren’t as thoughtful of the planning process, who learn the “rules” as they go.
The latter happens to best describe me. In fact, particularly in the beginning, I worked directly in my clients physical office spaces about 75% of the time; and when I didn’t, I tended to overcompensate for my clients by working much harder while I was at home. Subconsciously, I had to prove something to them… or me.
Personal issues aside, I realized I was fighting a very important battle. I had NO idea there was so much cynicism towards professionals who worked from home when I transitioned.
It was bad.
Watching the reaction to my response “I work from home” when asked “where do you work?” stunk. My words were often regurgitated with a quiet chuckle and air quotes, “Oh right… ‘work from home.’”
In retrospect, they were just pissed and bitter. But hindsight is 20/20. I quietly waged a war, with one hand tied behind my back, and blindfolded.
When the economy took a nose-dive it appeared working from home was a GREAT idea. Uhm. Born out of necessity? Probably. But there’s a silver lining in every cloud.
In the past 10 years, the most significant shake-up I got to experience (and got a front row seat in) was the collision of technology and the attitude towards working from home.
Suddenly all sorts of tools were available (and/or accessible) that elevated working from home to a whole new level. Video conferencing became the norm. Sharing documents with live editing capability took a stand. People started noticing where the teleconference button on their “smartphone” was and why it was cool to have it.
Besides technology, there are many organizations (some born prior to the economic nose-dive, by the way) researching and reporting (check out Telework Research Network / Global Workplace Analytics) on the advantages of teleworking (including productivity levels, financial savings, carbon footprint benefits, etc.)… and they even help large and small companies develop guidelines to have a successful teleworking program.
It is beautiful what progress has done for professionals. In fact, it’s not just beautiful, it’s important. Need more on the importance? Check out David Fullerton’s blog entry for Stack Exchange here.
Now when one responds, “I work from home”, the follow-up question tends to be, “Oh! Who do you work for?” Today it’s not necessarily about the company being forward-thinking, it’s more that your company is cool because it has kept up with the times… and with technology.
It’s not to say working from home is perfect. It’s not, but it has certainly evolved. We have jumped the persona hurdle. Now we need to figure out the tools and its use cases.
10 years later and I’m still at it, though now (well, for the last few years) I have a partner in crime. Her name is Lisa and she is the brains behind Alternative Workstyle. We set out to solve current (and future) issues that teleworkers, managers of teleworkers, and managers who telework themselves face. It’s a 3D immersive business district and it’s called Flipside Workspace. I won’t go on and on, but I will say Dave Rolston, a teleworker evangelist and expert in his own right, did quite a beautiful job describing our mission in his own blog, Working Nowhere.
I transitioned from being an employed teleworker, to teleworking as a micro-business, to co-creating a solution for the teleworker on a million different levels. It’s not often I’m able to reflect and see progress, but I can sure as hell tell you I cannot wait to see what I’ll be writing about 10 years from now. I do hope it starts with:
“This month I’m celebrating 20 years of what used to be called ‘telework’. Today, it’s just called ‘work’. But first, let me tell you a little story about a company called Yahoo!.. back in 2013…”
Today is my first day at working in some new vocabulary for Flipside Workspace. Not gonna’ lie, I have a feeling this is one of those things that is either going to be extremely difficult or spiral out of control. The latter, I kind of hope.
Hot Diggity Dog!
“Benson hotdogged with her usual flair…” — From Matt Warshaw’s 2010 book The History of Surfing
Here’s a little story:
Lisa and I share a desk in our office in the Flipside Workspace office building, and it has two seats. One faces into the lobby, the other looks out the window, into the San Francisco skyline. While I love my view, this other [perfectly situated] seat is positioned so one can see if someone is coming into our office (or going, for that matter).
I have managed to “lose” this seat. Lisa has, unbeknownst to me, decided to challenge me in sitting in this “chair of privilege”. Every. Single. Day.
When I saw today’s WOD, it prompted a fantasy. It goes like this:
Lisa and I arrive at the office at the same time. Teleporting to the lobby, we both immediately make a mad dash towards the office where, with grace and ease, I “hotdog” around her. This throws her into a tizzy as I sit down in “her” seat. Because now I’m sitting in a position where I can see her coming in, I notice she’s standing in the doorway with blue tweety birds flying in circles above her head.
This vision made me smile from ear to ear. You know what else?! I would totally Tweet, Facebook, even write another blog entry about it. I see the headlines now:
THE AWKWARD GAWKER REIGNS OVER THE “CHAIR OF PRIVILEGE” AT D+C OFFICE HEADQUARTERS BY USING SAVVY (and shrewd) HOTDOGGING MOVES
Imagine what hotdogging in Flipside Workspace would look like if I was competitive.
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
So true, but it depends how close you are with it.
Our “picture” is Flipside Workspace. In my [unbiased] opinion, Flipside is poetry in motion.
A thousand words? Ha! Try a million.
I’ve been asked a gazillion times to describe Flipside Workspace, with the expectation that I can do this in 2 minutes or less. If the average number of words per speaking minute is 120, that’s 240 words. But I have a million. Math isn’t my greatest skill, but I do recognize there’s a huge difference.
Out of frustration, I have to ask myself: Do you think Picasso had an “elevator pitch” for “Guernica“?!
If he did, kudos to him. What his masterpiece stands for, the emotion it evokes, the impact it ultimately had around the world – how does one do that?!
Finding the right words has truly been an obstacle for me: describing what we have developed, the psychological impact it has had, and the profound shift in my professional life as a user.
Want examples? Here are some words we’ve used and the knee-jerk responses:
“Virtual world”: Second Life? Yes, but nothing like it.
“Telepresence”: oh! like GoToMeeting? Uhm, no… well, kinda’… no, not really at all.
“Virtual presence”: OK, like Google Hangouts? Ugh. Not quite.
“3D environment”: like World of Warcraft? World of WHAT?
“Taking the physical office and moving it online”: silence.
I don’t even get into how my business partner and I share a desk while living 70 miles apart, or how our productivity has sky-rocketed since sharing this office space yet we rarely use email or the telephone anymore (but still talk to each other approximately 6 hours a day everyday), or how I walk to the library to ask our Resident Bookworm (who lives another 80 miles away) a quick question she might be able to help me with… it’s just all too “out there”.
So, I’m going to focus on finding the right words and determine how these words can help better explain what we’ve got going on here. I have decided what may very well help me in conquering this challenge is to pick a “word of the day” using WordThink, Merriam-Webster, or Urban Dictionary and see if they work in describing Flipside Workspace.
Perhaps in 240 blog posts I will have come up with the perfect elevator pitch!
It was meant to be a quick, painless trip to the local drugstore – all I needed were a pair of dishwashing gloves.
Quickly perusing the aisles I hear banter between two employees… and begin listening.
Employee 1: “Oh my gawd. Is THIS the kind of music they play here all the time?”
Employee 2: “Well, depending on the clientele. In some stores they play hip hop, other stores play big band.”
Employee 1: “Oh. This is going to drive me nuts.”
Employee 2: “It’s not that bad. You’ll get used to it.”
Me: [silently] REALLY?! Oh dear. I need to get out of here. Where are the gloves?
Employee 1: “You know what keeps me going? 50’s music.”
Employee 2: “Really?”
Employee 1: “Yeah. It drives me nuts. It’s so boring.”
Me: [silently] For the love of gawd. WHERE ARE THE GLOVES?
I finally find them and start making my way to the cashier… only to find…
… bebop loathing Employee 1, smiling and eager to help me. He resembled an aged 80’s punk rocker with a blue mohawk. The irony of his love/hate relationship with 50′s music was not lost on me.
Employee 1: “Hello. So you know the M&M’s are on sale right now.”
Employee 1: [smile] “See. Right here.”
Me: “OK, but I don’t want any.” [smile]
Employee 1: “They insist I say it.” [giggle]
Employee 1: “That will be $8.88.”
Me: [hand over a $10 bill, smile]
Employee 1: “Hey! You’re a perfect 10!” [giggle]
Employee 1: “Do you need a bag?”
Employee 1: “Because I have plenty of them” [take pointer finger, pull dark and swollen skin down from directly underneath eye]
Me: “oh boy” [half smile]
Employee 1: “oh girl” [giggle]
Oh my gawd.
I can’t say with 100% certainty, but I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes at this point.
Employee 1: [mumbles to self, smiling] “You know, you’ve just got to have a sense of humor in life.”
1. After going into that store for 10 years I am only now noticing the music. What demographic am I living in that INSTRUMENTALS of Barry Manilow and Barbara Streisand are pumped through the sound system? While I understand there are psychological consequences to background music, this just isn’t cool.
2. As a business owner, understand the personalities of both your staff and customer. Would you put Billy Idol as a cashier at Walmart in Elko, Nevada where Waylon Jennings is swooning in the background? Probably not. But in Cleveland, Ohio, where tourists from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame pick up their necessities… well now, that would be perfect!
In hindsight, I may have chuckled at Employee 1’s “jokes” if I had way hipper music oozing into my psyche.
This is a list of the top five observations from this week:
Observed: a young woman driving with her convertible top down, music blaring, not having a care in the world.
Lesson learned: peace comes in all different forms. we all need to find our “quiet”.
Observed: someone yapping on the phone while standing in line at Starbucks. Though the conversation had not ended, she put the phone down on the counter, gave her full attention to the cashier until the transaction was completed, and reconvened the call when she was “alone” again.
Lesson learned: everyone should be so considerate of their surroundings.
Observed: A woman, on her phone, waiting for her table at a restaurant. She begins to yell at the hostess that she’s been waiting too long… while the phone is still on her ear. She gets seated and proceeds to eat her entire meal with her companion… on the phone.
Lesson learned: some people are simply too cheap to just invite their friends out to dinner.
Observed: 2 men and a woman go into a restaurant. The host says, “Good afternoon, gentlemen”. The woman turns around, makes eye contact with the host who in turn simply continues to lead them to the table.
Lesson learned: there’s actually nothing good that comes out of that. He was probably right to just put his head down and lead them to their table.
Observed: Gotta’ love the gentleman who took care of business in a public water closet (see blog entry from earlier this week).
Lesson learned: ’nuff said.