The Naked Truth About Working From Home
Is working remotely all it's cracked up to be? One woman's quest to find out
If you’re a baby senior, you work remotely many times a day. When I say to my sister and roommate, Sally, “HEY, I’m going down to check the mailbox,” I’m working remotely, because she can’t hear a damn thing. And, then the trek down to the mailbox finds me temporarily remote from the comforts and safety of my apartment.
My telephone psychic told me remotely that I would miss being around people were I to choose to work from my home. I often wonder what she really looks like, and how often she leaves her apartment. Luckily, I only pay her $0.99 per call.
I’m focusing on working remotely these days because that just works better for me. In other words, I don’t play well with others. It’s not that I am antisocial…it’s just that there are some people in my office who hold ill will. I don’t know if it’s because they don’t play well with others either or if it’s because they just don’t like me. I usually get myself in trouble in an office setting, because my mother taught me not to suffer fools, misogynists, arrogant people, or liars.
Anyone who has worked in an office knows exactly what I’m talking about.
I’m a strong Texas woman, and if I call you adorable, I mean that in the sweetest kind of way, even though a “bless your heart” can be loaded with alternative meanings. It was only when I was chastised for calling a Senior VP adorable that my next thought was a ‘bless his heart’ at his rebuke of my compliment. Office politics can be tricky!
I told my boss recently that I wanted to shift from in-office work to helping him remotely as his executive assistant. Companies are doing this all over the world now, saving wads of money on the physical support of an employee. This isn’t an outrageous request anymore. He told me that I’m the best secretary he’s ever had or will have in the future, so I felt comfortable with this basis on which to build my case.
My speech was eloquent and backed up with statistics showing all manner of productivity from remote workers. He was taken aback, to put it mildly, but suggested that he would check with HR, and let me know what they thought. He is a #9 on the numerology chart; they like to play both sides against the middle and be as noncommittal as possible. I thought, Oh God…the dreaded HR. Those people have neither a sense of humor nor an ounce of outside-the-box thought processes.
I am an impulsive sort, so I wasn’t about to wait around until HR decided that my request was worthy of a response. I was just going to forge ahead, assuming that my proffered notion would be accepted wholeheartedly and was the kind of suggestion that would change company culture. I’ve always been ahead of my time, and this case would be no different.
Off I went to the office supply store to order a desk, chair, file drawer, and floor pad for my home office, even paying for it myself as a gesture of my graciousness and sincerity in saving the company money. As you read this, I’m happily ensconced in my apartment office space, sitting at my lovely writing desk, barefooted, sweat-suited, and obviously productive…just not at my job…but at the job that I want to do, which is to WRITE.
My shift to working remotely turns out to have been a double-edged sword, however, as my boss got back to me recently with HR’s response, which was a big, fat NO! And, for emphasis, they added their opinion that this would set a “bad precedent.” If that were even remotely true, there are thousands of companies that are bad-precedenting all over the place. Even though I wanted to tell him that he could ‘take this job and shove it,’ I waited until I was in my car, dodging traffic on my way home as part of the post-edit of our conversation. Luckily, I was able to vent at the guy in front of me who turned right from our left-hand lane. I also added a “You CAN’T be serious…REALLY!?!”
Because I have a way with words, I actually convinced my boss to allow me to work remotely as I transition out of the company…giving me three months to find a real remote position while still paying my salary, parking, honoring my bonus, fully insuring me, and shelling out my cost-of-living raise. What else could he say but yes, because he also knew that I didn’t play well with others? Truth be told, neither does he, which is probably why we got along so well with each other.
On my last work day, I’m going to tell my office colleague, Sarah, who dislikes me almost as much as I dislike her, that she can close the ‘file’ that she has been keeping on me of all of my malfeasance that she deems appropriate reasons for my dismissal, and I will probably use the words ‘SHOVE IT’ and ‘HOW DARE YOU’ in there somewhere. Or, I may be as nice as possible and save those for traffic transgressors on my way home…like bicyclists!
It’s fair to say that I’m now diving into the deep, remote end of a pool that I am convinced will hold me afloat in the most wondrous ways. I’ve already crossed over emotionally, filled with hope, and expecting to make a gazillion dollars as a writer, but also “keeping my camel tied up.”
I’ve already had my first virtual interview for an EA position, because I do have to pay the bills. Unfortunately, it was a video interview, so the adorable thirtysomething woman, who couldn’t have been nicer, was looking at all of my neck and facial wrinkles (I saw her). This was not part of the working remotely theme that I anticipated, since I had produced lower lighting to filter out such visuals. I should have worn a turtleneck, but that only enhances the jowls hanging low at my jawline. I guess that I thought my interview would take place with an avatar of some kind.
After the interview and what the recruiter deemed an appropriate period of time, I was notified via email that they had decided to “go in a different direction.” Talk about feeling remote! My next article will find me trying very hard to come up with the slightest bit of humor in age discrimination.
My sister…you know…the one who can’t hear a damn thing, provided me with succor and sympathy. And, I remain undaunted during this first full month, not having the remotest idea of what I’m doing…but I know why…I want to write.