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…”