The Silicon Valley Voice

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A Note to the Remote

Do you hate going to work?

Do you hate going to work even more than you hate work itself?

If you’ve answered yes to either of these questions, you may be a prime candidate for one of the many jobs that let you work remotely. That’s right! There are an increasing number of companies in the USA offering jobs that can be done from Timbuktu, or any other corner of the earth where you choose to hang your hat.

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You’ve already been to Timbuktu and don’t want to go again? Even though it’s so much groovier than ever before, now that they’ve got a Whole Foods? How about working from a place even more exotic and weird and dangerous? That’s right – I’m talking about working from home.

If the idea of getting to work without getting out of bed appeals, I recommend “How to Work Remotely and Successfully,” a recent Liz Hall post on Ladders.

“Working from home may sound like a dream-come-true for some, but it’s not all about relaxation,” Hall informs us, before asking the million-dollar question, “Are you up for the challenge of staying on-task while away from the office?”

Considering that you can’t stay on-task while right smack-dab in the middle of the office, with your co-workers whispering about you behind your back and your manager breathing down your neck, it’s a totally fair question.

Before you respond with a totally unfair answer, consider Hall’s assertion that “working from home requires a different skill set and work ethic than working in-house.”

“A magical employee who is productive regardless of location does exist,” Hall insists, “but not everyone may be adaptable.”

No question that you are magical. Your ability to disappear when there is work to do makes you the David Copperfield of workplace slackers. But can you move your magic act to your home?

“Establish a routine” is one of the keys to being successful at your job, while working in your PJs. For you, this should not be difficult. Instead of waking up, getting dressed, eating three Cinnabons and dragging yourself to the office, where you promptly fall asleep, you need to make a slight course correction. When you finish your Cinnabons, go back to bed.

(If you really want to achieve peak efficiency, consider eating your Cinnabons while still in your bed. Replacing your alarm clock with a microwave oven should make this simple. Or simply move your bed into the kitchen. Problem solved!)

As part of your new schedule, you’ll want to “have some kind of presence indicator so that people can see you are available.” Since your previous “presence indicator” was the endless stream of complaints and gripes emanating from your office, invest in a nice sound system that constantly loops a two-hour rant on the things that bothered you when you were still working in the office, which was everything.

The few co-workers who will miss you will feel like you’ve never left. Everyone else will appreciate the constant reminder that you’re gone.

“A dedicated work area really helps to separate work and home life” is another useful tip for the employee at-large.” A new home theater equipped with a Sony SRX-S110 professional video projector, a Stewart 18-by-10-foot Snowmatte 1.0 gain laboratory-grade motion picture screen, and twin McIntosh MC-2102 amplifiers should separate you from your home life. And from your bank book, as well, providing even more motivation to get to work, once you’ve caught up on recent episodes of “Gotham,” of course.

Providing a safe space to work may not be sufficient. Author Hall suggests that “boundaries need to be established if others will also be home while you work.”

So true. What use is it to escape the annoying distractions at the office, if you have to face annoying distractions at home. Yes, dirty dishes left in the sink can represent a health hazard, even after only three or four weeks, but you’ve got work to do.

Hall suggests a system in which communication during work hours is only allowed by text message. Clearly, this will never fly. The best solution for the stay-at-home worker is for their partner to get an away-from-home job. Or maybe two.

If your partner works hard, and spends every waking hour out of the house, you could achieve the ultimate goal of any remote worker.

Hey, anyone can work from home. It takes a magical employee to not-work from home.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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