The tagline for this blog might be slightly misleading. I do work in Vermont, but I think of it more as working from Vermont. I’ve been telecommuting full time for almost nine years now.
In some ways, I’ve come to take this working style for granted. It’s neither a burden nor a privilege–just something that makes sense right now. It’s a way for me to be happy, productive and challenged, while living in a community that gives my family those same opportunities. I’ve been lucky to find not one but two employers who were willing to judge me based on my contributions to their companies, rather than my presence in their offices.
I often read that situations like mine (telecommuting, teleworking, call it what you like) are becoming increasingly common nationally, and I know that’s true here in Vermont. Middlebury isn’t a hotbed of professional opportunity, and there are lots of folks around here who have found creative ways to plug into the wider world. Still, there are some misconceptions about how it works. At the risk of exposing the chip on my shoulder, let me clear up a few:
- I‘m not wearing pajamas. I get up, get dressed and go to the office just like you do. Very early on I instituted a no-elastic-waist policy for my home office. Sweatpants aren’t conducive to serious thinking.
- My kid is not with me. When my son was born almost five (!) years ago, lots of well-wishers congratulated me on having a work situation that would let me keep him with me all day. This is not the case. I love his company, but if he were here, I’d be thinking and talking about dinosaurs, not work.
- I’m not doing laundry. I’m at home, but I’m not emptying the dishwasher, folding clothes, sneaking the last chapter of a book, watching whatever’s going to replace Oprah or answering my home phone. Just working, just like you. The proximity to my other jobs–being a wife, a mom, a reader, whatever–doesn’t infringe on my activities during the day.
It’s not for everyone. I hear a lot of “I could never get up in the morning,” “I’d be constantly distracted,” “I’d get bored.” And if those things are true for you, then I wouldn’t suggest telecommuting. It takes discipline to make it work and some days are harder than others (especially when it gets dark at 3:30 in January). But all in all, I try to treat my job like anyone else treats theirs. I go into my office on schedule, I meet friends for lunch when I feel stir-crazy, and I get to the “real” offices (wherever they may be) just as often as I can, because there’s still nothing that beats face to face.
Nine years and counting. So far, so good.