• Sarah Neeson

Never Settle and the Benefits of Working from Home

By now, you all know I'm looking for a new job. But I'm not just looking for a new job. I'm looking for something I will be happy doing long term. I'm looking for a job with some flexibility. I know that I can do the work. I know I'm good at what I do and if I get the opportunity, I can show a new employer or client this.

I've had two phone interviews so far. I said no to both jobs. The first was for a union position. That sounds great on the surface, but when I asked about flexible work hours or working remotely, I was told there would be no opportunity for that. The second job sounded better: they wanted me to go into the office, but the office was much closer, so I could have lived with that. And there was some opportunity to work remotely. The hours were not flexible. But that was okay. However, the position had a lot less responsibility that my previous one and the compensation reflected that. If I could have worked remotely, I would have taken it. If they were going to pay me the same as what I had been making before, I would have accepted it. But I couldn't accept it as it was.

What a lot of companies don't understand today is how much benefit there is in allowing people the opportunity to work from home. Now of course, not everyone is in a position where they can: doctors can't exactly work from home, nor can plumbers or carpenters, or a host of any number of jobs. But people who do the majority of their work on computers should be able to work from anywhere as long as they have the discipline to actually get work done. I worked from home the last year that I worked for Central and I noticed that I was more efficient when I did. I have some theories as to why:

  • I didn't have the stress of the commute bogging me down. Over an hour each way is a long time to be in traffic.

  • I didn't have co-workers to distract me. We were still able to keep in touch with each other with our chat program called Slack and the phone and email, but every time we communicated, it was for a particular thing and didn't stray into as much personal chat.

  • I got to choose my own working environment. Some people work best in complete silence. I am not one of them. I like to listen to music while I work. In the office, I was constantly distracted by other people's conversations and had to listen to my music on headphones if I was going to listen to it at all. And in the moments when I was working on something very complex and did need complete silence, I could do that also.

In addition to working better, I also see other benefits from the employer's perspective: they don't have to pay for my space. I'm not using their phone, desk, chair, monitors, paper. Maybe they still supply me with a laptop, mouse, and headset, but that is a lot less than what they would be supplying me with if I were in the office. I don't need free coffee as a perk of the job. I can make my own (if I drank coffee, which I don't). I don't need free parking as a perk of the job if I don't need to go to an office. The parking at my home is always free. As the employer, you can save money on these things as well by letting me work from home.

Some people might argue that not everyone can work productively from home and that is absolutely true. Some people might also say that in order to be a technical writer, you need to be able to conduct interviews with subject matter experts and go in to see how things work. This is also very true. But my counter-argument would be that the people who cannot work productively from home should not and don't penalize the people who can. Also, I'm happy to conduct interviews via phone or email if that works better for the SME. If they want to do the interview face-to-face, or if I need to go in to see how a product works, that's fine too. But the actual writing I do doesn't have to happen in a particular place. I can write anywhere and at any time. Because I don't have a job yet, I'm writing this post in bed at 7:30 in the morning with my son sleeping on my lap. Obviously I would have childcare if I had an actual job, but for now I can't afford it so I write where and when I can. I still manage to get about three hours of "work" done each day.

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