Friday, May 8, 2015

Telecommuting (2)

May is here! This means I am officially telecommuting on Thursdays again! Woohoo! Look at all those exclamation marks! My brother would kill me if he knew I was using so many of them!

Here's a look at my telecommuting day in pictures:

Everett had his first dentist appointment yesterday. It seems kind of silly to take a child this young to the dentist, but I am paying for the insurance, so I figure I might as well. They basically brushed his teeth and put fluoride in his mouth, then gave him a new toothbrush.

Afterwards, I rewarded him with a little trip to Starbucks for a treat. (BTW the S'Mores Frappuccino is the best thing in the world. I highly recommend it.) Little man was conked out after all this. When we got home, I let him sleep in the car and grabbed the iPad to do some work until he woke up.

The trip to the dentist went pretty well, mostly because we talked it up for the couple days prior to his appointment. This was how we prepared him to sit in a stroller for 3+ hours for Bloomsday, too. You can make anything sound exciting to a toddler...After he woke up we went to Costco. This was my impulse buy of the week:

I have a little obsession with Julia Child. And it's embarrassing. The Costco cashier asked if I was trying to learn to cook like Julia and I awkwardly responded by saying, "Gaah...aahhhh..ummm NO! It's for my...friend..." Do you think he believed me?

Next, Everett played outside while I did some work in the sunshine. Seriously, telecommuting is the best.

Everett then helped me make dinner: pesto pasta with heirloom tomatoes. If you haven't tried Costco's pesto you are missing out. It is very delicious and the price is right. Everett's job for dinner was to rinse the tomatoes (he couldn't be convinced that they were not potatoes). This was what happened when I threw them in the pan to roast:

Poor kid really liked looking at those. It was a sad and sweet meltdown. Also, please ignore all those dishes, which also got done on my telecommuting day.

For all you full time workers of the world, I highly recommend that you propose a work-from-home day to your boss. Of course, teachers might have a hard time with this, but you guys get shafted in everything else, so what more could you expect...also you get summers.

A couple years ago, I was really struggling with working full time and being a new mom. My lack of sanity was getting to the point where I was seriously considering quitting my job. Then as a last resort, I went on a suicide mission to my bosses and asked for a more flexible schedule. My proposal worked.

Here's how I did it:

For a couple weeks, I kept very close track of what I was doing every 10 minutes of the day. I counted time I was on the phone, writing emails, reading emails, in meetings, taking breaks, being interrupted by coworkers, shooting the breeze with people in the halls, pumping, etc. Literally every minute of my day was accounted for.  

At the end, I was able to show that the majority of my "job" is done on the computer, either running processes, composing letters to be sent to large populations, or reading and responding to emails. I only had an average of 6 phone calls and face-to-face meetings a day, and all of these people could have left a message and been happy with a response 24 hours later. In addition, a huge portion of my time was swallowed up by external distractions - people coming into my office to chat, me walking down the hall for a quick break, not to mention my pumping for over an hour a day. Almost all of my real job could be done at home. In my pajamas.

In my proposal, I chose Thursdays as my day at home. This is because Thursdays and Fridays tend to be the quietest days in our office. I did not want to ask for Fridays, as this would make it appear that I always had 3-day weekends, and this did not seem fair to the rest of my colleagues.

I also went to my bosses with a list of my everyday job duties. Having a long list of responsibilities makes a supervisor see that you are more than a replaceable commodity. The alternative of you quitting over their flexibility will seem like a very big deal when they have to consider training and shuffling job responsibilities.

Most importantly, tell them how much you will appreciate their willingness to be flexible. A happy employee is less likely to constantly be looking for other employment opportunities. And if they say yes, never take advantage of their generosity, and show appreciation by always being a good employee. No one likes to work with someone who is given flexibility, but does not do their job well. This will only create animosity.

If being out of the office for a day seems like a stretch, you could try and find a coworker with similar job duties who is willing to cover for you while you are out. This usually works well when you have two people in your office proposing a flex schedule. You must both be willing to take on more responsibilities when the other person is not physically there, but you should be happy to do so because it means you have more flexibility in your job, and no duties get left undone! Winning!

Finally, be prepared to hear "No." Most leaders/managers these days know that job flexibility is key for employee satisfaction, but many are hesitant to change (Baby Boomers are the worst when it comes to change in the workplace). However, know that if I had proposed this new schedule even a year before I did, the outcome would have been different. You asking in the first place opens up the dialogue for change and flexibility. Give it time and do not be afraid to try again. Also, do not threaten to leave your job unless you are serious. No one likes an empty threat, and this will only foster distrust.

Good luck! And hopefully this advice doesn't get you fired.

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