Friday, October 24th, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Are you a part-time or full-time telecommuter living and
working in Issaquah Highlands? Bring a sack lunch and join me
for the first Telecommuter Brown Bag to share ideas and
experiences. See the article The Accidental Telecommuter in
the October issue of Connections for more detail – hope to see
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line: Telecommuter Brown Bag) if you have questions.
From October Connections:
The Accidental Telecommuter
By Dawn Noland, The Terraces
I make this reference to “The Accidental Tourist” by Anne Tyler tongue-in-cheek. I read the 1985 novel while living abroad, enjoying popular American works to keep connected to the country where I was born.
I enjoyed this novel for its quirky romantic story, but it captivated me for another reason: Macon Leary’s profession was a travel guide writer for people who did not enjoy traveling, and hence were accidental and not intentional tourists. That idea stuck with me because it took me to a place that I could not imagine…how could anyone not love traveling?
And yet, I am taken back to that place Tyler’s novel created as I find myself now an accidental telecommuter. I didn’t mean to become a telecommuter – the working world I entered over three decades ago was office-bound. Working from home was viewed with suspicion by management and co-workers alike. But eventually, my telecommuting life evolved.
I began working from home two days a week so I could volunteer at my daughter’s elementary school. Two days became three when I was assigned to a Project Management Office in Atlanta and began to work East Coast hours. I arranged any face-to-face meetings during the two days in the office, but as my work became more involved with team members in India and Israel, there were fewer and fewer opportunities to meet in the same place and time zone.
I didn’t mind the early morning hours as my then home in downtown Issaquah was noisy with delivery workers by 4:30 am. I felt a secret and silent solidarity with these other early risers. I logged in at 5:30 am to join team members at the beginning their work day. When I did drive in to the office, I’d worry about what I was missing during the commute. Then my cubicle mates would greet me with, “Nice of you to show up today.” I’m sure they were joking, but it still stung.
I was too immersed in my life at that time to worry about my cubicle mates too much. I was a single parent caring for elderly parents and a younger brother with brain cancer, and oh yes, holding down a full-time job. I went into the office less and less. When I did go in, I noticed a strange phenomenon: The very same office mates who chided me (all in fun, mind you) were now working from home. Our office had begun transforming to part and full-time telecommuters. When an appeal was made to voluntarily vacate cubicles for an adjoining building’s office remodeling, I gave up my window cube of over a decade and joined the ranks of full-time telecommuters.
My daughter and I moved to Issaquah Highlands last summer. Did you know the community was designed for part- and full-time telecommuters? Even though I have a classic technical person’s introverted makeup (Leave me alone! I’m working!), I am a project manager and love the energy of working closely with others. I bet there are more like me in the highlands.
How does a club for telecommuters sound? We could meet once a month and discuss the challenges and benefits of telecommuting, and of living in a community designed for teleworkers. The club would be company agnostic – that is, we will not discuss our companies by name, only the challenges facing part- and full-time telecommuters. (Some, like me, are bound by a company code of ethics and others by non-disclosure agreements.) The purpose of the club is to come together for a bit of face time (in person – what a concept!) and share our stories.
For our kick-off meeting how about we discuss the Pros and Cons of Commuting to the Office and Working from home. Big cons for Working from Home are: no physical interaction with fellow office workers, isolation, feeling of being “left out,” no visual clues when giving presentations (no furrowed brows, wandering eyes, grimaces or smiles), battling the multi-tasking workforce during teleconferences, interference from family/pets during work hours.
I would like to discuss these challenges in an open and engaged forum. How do you handle them? Is there really such a state as work/life balance? What about recommended readings or podcasts addressing the challenges and benefits of being a telecommuter? It is sure to be a learning experience, if not fun, too!
What do you say? Willing to give it a shot? Let’s meet! Teleworkers Unite!