Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Don't hate me because I telecommute

It's 3:25 pm and I just finished working for the day. I work part time for Oregon State University but I live in Spokane, WA. It's probably bad, but I'm still in my PJs and I haven't combed my hair yet today. Typically I run at noon and then get dressed after showering post run, but it won't stop snowing today so I'm still not dressed.

There are a lot of fun and positive things about telecommuting, obviously I have more time at home which is invaluable since I had a baby 16 months ago. I also feel like I have more flexibility since I don't have folks watching a clock to see if I leave 5 minutes early for lunch or not. Another little perk is I save time and money by not having to commute to work.

But it does have its downside, which I know people won't listen to, but I think its a pretty heavy downside given the situation with the economy: I lose my connection with the people I work with by not being present in the office every day. A typical telecommuting agreement can be terminated by an employer at anytime, and since I moved to another state, that means I am out of a job if the agreement gets terminated.

When I tell people I telecommute, they get this faraway, grass is always greener look on their face and ask me, "So how did you swing that?"

You won't like my version of how I become a telecommuter either. I worked in the same job for 9 years, during which time I endured 3 leadership changes, several office reassignments, and a whole lot of drama that caused almost every person I originally worked with to quit.

After having a baby, I approached my boss with a telecommuting agreement and he agreed to it. It helped that I had already been on maternity leave and managed to keep things handled while I was out of the office. I think that all of these things combined together made for a sympathetic situation.

Despite all that, I feel that I can lose my job anytime. Things are changing again, we have new leadership and I have no relationship with the new person. I miss having co-workers to chat with and a place to wear nice clothes to everyday. But... I love being home so that the moment my child wakes up and yells "Mama! Mama!" I can go to him, even if I have to hand him off a short time later so I can go back to work.

My advice to anyone interested in telecommuting is to first think of how it will benefit your employer, research company policy, and then approach your boss with a realistic proposal. I think most people just wistfully talk about it but never do anything about it. You never know if you don't ask. If it does get approved, don't waste time, work hard and manage your time with integrity. And never let your boss catch you napping on the job.

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