Doing More With Less Since 1972

Tag: telecommuting

Daily Reading List — June 17th

10 Chrome extensions you didn’t know existed but should be using | Android Central

Why LinkedIn’s Acquisition by Microsoft Will Disrupt the Enterprise Software Market – I think the best point here is that it sets Microsoft in the sweet spot between Google and Facebook in the enterprise.

Of course, so did Yammer (potentially). 🙁

20 Business Lessons You Don’t Want To Learn The Hard Way

Script to parse and dump a sitemap

Mobile marketing statistics 2016

Against The Cult Of Travel, Or What Everyone Gets Wrong About The Hobbit | The Art Of Manliness

"Crooked" Hillary & The Coming Convention Coups

Why the Future of Work Is Remote – You may not like it, but Brother, you better learn to love it. 'Cause it's the best thing going today.

Daily Reading List — January 26th

An Exercise to Get Your Team Thinking Differently About the Future – Looks like a good investment of a couple of hours. We may not be able to predict the future, but we can skill up to more effectively handle what it throws at us.

Why Telecommuting Can Be Dangerous For Your Company Culture – It's with great sadness that I have to agree with this. I was telecommuting for 6.5 years, and as that time came to an end I was beginning to realize I wasn't getting (or giving) all I could by being remote exclusively.

But the productivity and life satisfaction you can gain from working at home at least a few days a week is no joke.

Want to Have Successful Kids? Let Them Fail. – Agile parenting–fail fast. That means making mistakes (such as not listening to your wise Old Man) early, while the stakes are relatively low.

What’s Your Big Data Resolution for 2015?

Ditch The Five Year Plan – It is a mantra at our house–"If you'd told me five years ago, this is where I'd in the situation I'm in today, I'd have told you that you were insane." Life doesn't care about your plans.

There should be a 6th piece of advice here though–don't take career advice from a blog post.

How to create a data lake for fun and profit – Everything I work on seems to lead back to this stuff. Thankfully.

For Goodness’ Sake, Get Your Enterprise Mobile Act Together in 2015 – Should we take comfort in the fact that this situation exists in lots of large enterprises? I don't think so…seems like an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage is just being missed by a lot of people. It's turning into a missed opportunity to stay average.

What Type of Legacy Do You Want to Leave? – I don't make resolutions, but if you do, you'll find some good potential resolutions rightcheer.

Haven’t Link Dumped In A While

The Age Of Data Wars Dawns

Cool Ironman Kona Infographic – Check out the decrease in bike/run splits. And the fairly level swim splits.

The Future Of Working From Home – Things are definitely moving this way. I’m pretty sure if I had to go back to a normal office situation, I’d struggle with it.

Chrissie Wellington: The Mind Over Body Battle – And you think you suffer? Love hearing how this affects even the super-humans.

Easily Monitor and Manage all of your WordPress Sites with WP Remote – Thanks to @mwender for this one. Great time saver

Google Turns Turtle and Takes Street View Underwater – Coming soon to iPhone5!

Alternative ways to ride The Downward Spiral – I created a Spotify playlist based on this. A couple of the songs weren’t in Spotify, but I found some good substitutes. Just reading this makes me afeared.

Whoa, Dude, Are We Inside a Computer Right Now? – Is it wrong that this seems completely reasonable (and likely) to me?

Solo or Group? Train Your Way – I’ve been opting for the solo route a lot lately. It’s quiet.

How To Determine Your Long Run Training For Any Triathlon Distance – Some really good info here. It’s hard to train for a distance event and fill like you got enough running in. The truth is, you really just can’t, but you can get the optimal amount.

Accessing SharePoint Lists with SQL Server Integration Services SSIS 2005

Raising Children To Become Productive Adults – In short, walk it like you talk it. Applies to pretty much everything in life.

Simple Tips to Help Your Grocery Budget – As always, thanks to @couponkatie for all the amazing tips and deals she points us to!

A Glass All Empty – When your S.O. gets on the wagon. Both of us are for the most part…one due to pregnancy and nursing, the other due to choosing brownie calories over beer calories. Must to get faster, and those calories slows me down.

An Unexpected Ass Kicking | Blog Of Impossible Things

Kindle Price Dropping and A Bunch of Other Financial Stuff

Here’s another mind dump of thoughts on a few of the link worthy things I’ve read lately…enjoy!

Now you can buy a Kindle for $114! The gotcha here is that you have to be willing to look at ads and special offers. Still, I’m glad to see the price coming down one way or another. I still think the magic price for this device is $99. At least, that’s the price at which I’d bite.

5 Common Remote Work Misconceptions – Word!

Roth IRA: Time to retire Roth IRAs – Could not be more wrong. This guy needs to run the numbers, although I doubt he’d know where to start to do that. Roth IRAs and Traditional IRAs generate the exact same tax revenue if you make the assumption that the tax rate doesn’t change. But for the gov’ment, they get to have their candy now instead of waiting for you to retire. The upside for the account holder only comes if they end up in a higher tax bracket or tax rates rise across the board. Look where people have placed their bets.

Gov Shutdown’s Impact – Great argument by @newscoma for keeping $ in state instead of sending it to D.C. 🙂

IKEA desktop – <3 IKEA. This is pretty cool.

Portugal, Illinois and Caterpillar – “The Portugese have decided to protest against mathematics….” That’s pretty much all you need to know. Of course, as Dave Ramsey likes to point out, if they’d been doing math they wouldn’t be in this mess.

January 28th through February 17th

I haven’t had a chance to read as much lately, but here’s some stuff I’ve really liked. Hope to pick up the content consumption rate again soon!

Telecommuting: Transparency and Fluidity – I expect this to become more and more the norm. I’d also be interested in knowing what the typical turnover rate is for telecommuters. My guess is that it is significantly lower than turnover for traditional office workers. Then again, the current economy may not provide the best sample set.

Why Are You People Defending Apple? – Word. All of your applications, the content they contain, and their means of distribution are belong to us.

Chrissie Wellington on Sports Addiction – I’m more of a binger right now. I used to be a daily addict, and I plan on relapsing once again when it fits my schedule.

Why Fiverr Is Great for Online Entrepreneurs – Some good ideas here for saving money. I’m cheap.

Triathlon Is a Stupid Sport – Charlie is not a fan. I LOL’d at most of this article. Parts were funny because they are so ridiculous. Other parts were funny because they are so true.

Tips On Working From Home

First, let me clarify. When I say, “working from home”, I don’t mean the occasional Friday or snow day. I’m talking about  working from your house, day-in-day-out. Telecommuting full time is definitely not for everyone. I tried it during the dot com days with limited success myself, but I learned a lot during that time about how to pull it off and some pitfalls to avoid. Since it seems like working remotely is a growing trend, I thought I’d document some tips I’ve learned for new telecommuters to help them make the transition from working in the office to working in the virtual office.

You do not work from home.

I can’t stress this enough, so I’ll say it again…in bold–You do not work from home.

You work from work. If you have the mindset that you are working from home, you’re already walking on thin ice. The problem with this mindset is that you will inevitably either bring home to work (not good), or bring work to home (even worse). One of the biggest difficulties I had working from home in the late 90s was that some days I had a very difficult time “going to work”. Other days, it seemed impossible to “come home from work”. There are a few things you can do to make the transition easier and keep the separation between work and home more clear:

  1. Set aside an office in your home. If you are limited on space, this may not be a separate room, but it needs to be a separate work area at least. It can even be a designated chair. All you do in this area is work. You don’t watch TV, play video games, or read for pleasure here. Work there, and don’t work anywhere else. I’ve learned that I do best with an entire room complete with bookshelves, a printer, filing cabinet, etc. It has to be as much like a traditional office as possible. And it must have a door that locks.
  2. “Go” to work in the mornings. In the beginning, you can help yourself with transitioning to telecommuting by continuing the same routine you would to go to work at a traditional office. This helps prepare your mind for the day ahead. For me, that meant actually getting dressed for work and arriving at the office at 7:30 am. After a month or so, I was able to drop the dress code, but I still like to “clock in” at the same time every day. If you have a morning workout routine, this will be much easier because you will continue exercising and showering before getting dressed. I’ve heard of other people going so far as getting in their car and driving to Starbucks for coffee, then returning home and going straight to work–simulating a commute.
  3. Factor in transition times, both to and from work. If you are used to commuting 20-30 minutes every day, this one is crucial. You may not realize it, but you’re probably using that time to either mentally prepare for work on the way there or to deflate from work before you get home. One of the issues you can run into when your commute is only 10 seconds is that your mind is still at either home or work, even though your body has changed locations. I’m lucky that the people in my group at work tend to start around the same time I do, while most of the people I support come in a little later. This gives me time to catch up on what’s going on within my group if necessary before “customers” start coming in, and it also keeps my morning more flexible so I can easily transition. “Going home after work” is much more difficult for me personally because my customers are still working when I’m ready to leave the office. If I’ve been working on one of their issues or am writing some code right up until the time I leave for the day, I sometimes find myself still mentally “at work” when I get home. I try to save tasks that have definite termination points for the end of the day to help me make a clean break.

There will be doubters. And some won’t change their minds.

Whenever you are doing something outside the absolute norm, there are going to be people who are skeptical. I once worked for a company that had a strict 8:00 am – 5:00 pm attendance policy. When they moved to flexible scheduling for salaried employees (as approved by management), lots of people in management refused to allow their people to participate, even if it meant something as small as taking 30 minutes instead of an hour for lunch and leaving at 4:30 instead of 5:00. Does that sound like a good way to keep responsible, reliable professionals around?

Skepticism of working remotely is fair up to a point. Know this is the situation you are signing up for, and do your best to change minds. Remember, you are being given a large amount of trust in your ability to manage your time effectively, so it’s reasonable to accept more responsibility for doing just that. Some people will never have their minds changed, but do your best to make sure that’s because of them, not you.

  1. Answer phone calls and emails ASAP. Every work place is different, but a certain amount of time in between receiving an email and replying is usually acceptable and the norm. Try to beat that. Every time. Try to be the most responsive person in the organization, especially during the regular office hours.
  2. Be flexible, especially with the “not bringing work home” rule. Smart phones make it easier to at least respond to emails if you have information readily available without “going back to the office.”  I think it’s reasonable for people to expect a little more availability from a telecommuter given the extra flexibility they are afforded.
  3. Be willing to “go back to the office” later. If you’re working in IT, you are probably used to having to come in during off-hours to perform maintenance and installations anyway, so it’s no big deal at all to go back to your home office and log in from 10pm-2am to perform some task. Much better than driving back in, right? If you work in another field, this may take some getting used to.
  4. Produce! You’ll probably find you’re much more productive by default since you aren’t spending as much time in meetings or getting pulled into random conversations with people stopping by your cube. Don’t take your foot off the pedal!
  5. Volunteer! There are always going to be those “meh” projects in any organization that no one is too excited about taking on. Take the opportunity to grab them if you are caught up on your usual duties and have the time to take care of them! This stuff has to be done by someone anyway, and it’s been my experience that I almost always end up learning something new or making a connection that leads to a much more interesting project later on.

Work From Home Every Now and Then

Every now and then (but not too often), work from home the same way other people do. Does this mean relaxing by the pool with lemonade in hand and doing just enough to keep your screensaver from activating? Uh…no. But it can mean an evening performing some less thought intensive tasks with your feet up on an ottoman while someone else in your house is engaged in a Desperate Housewives marathon. You’ll have no problem focusing on work if that’s your only other option.

You can work-from-home from home if you’re single or have the house to yourself during the day, but it’s tough to really work in your living spaces during the day if you have kids. My preference is to head to a coffee shop for a Friday afternoon every now and then when I’m caught up and things are expected to be smooth for the rest of the day. Right before a long holiday weekend when everyone else has mentally checked out is the perfect time. It’s a nice change of pace from sitting in the same spot every day and gives you the chance to feel like you are a part of normal society, even if it’s just for a few hours.

Sometimes You Have To Adapt

Just like at the regular office, sometimes things pop up that throw a kink into your perfect plan. You’re going to get sick, but there isn’t any “I don’t want to infect everyone else,” so you have to do your best to fight through it and still get some rest. Sometimes you’ll need to handle an errand during your office hours, just like an in-office job, and you’ll have to step out to take care of it. The best you can do is to try and imagine how you would handle any unexpected occurrences if you weren’t a telecommuter and try to handle them the exact same way.

I’m sure others have some great strategies to adjust to telecommuting and handling the challenges it brings. If you can overcome the things that make working remotely difficult (solitude, distractions, mindset, etc.) it is a great way to work! Again, it’s not a good fit for everyone or every company, but it’s worth giving it a shot if your employer is game to letting you give it a shot and you think you can do it successfully.

I’m reading– January 11th through January 12th

Fight Club: The Musical – I am Jack’s feeling that Tyler Durden would not approve. HT to @raowen!

10 Reasons Why Socrates is Still Relevant Today – I’m glad the title of this article isn’t “10 Reasons Why Socrates is Still Alive and Kicking”. Someone would assuredly be shocked that he’s still walking among us. Saw someone make that mistake regarding Shakespeare. True story.

General Knowledge on Oil and Gas – Found this looking up the term “middle of the barrel”. Pretty interesting. Ok, not really, but I didn’t know the whole process.

339 Puke Synonyms – Because we’ve been overusing all the standard material at our house lately.

Digital Distractions – I like this Seth Godin post. I do–I really like the point of it. What I like best is how many times it’s been Shared and Re-Tweeted. And I just added another. 🙂

Most Productive Home Working Location? – For me, there has to be a desk. Actually, a complete office environment, just like you’d have at the Office-office. Bookshelves, printer, filing cabinet, etc. But, longer reading works better on a couch/futon.

Little Debbie Sushi – We have reached the pinnacle of food. There’s nowhere left to go.

WordPress Theme Anatomy – Great quick reference if you are just getting started with WP or need a quick reminder of how everything is structured.

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