Telecommuting confessions…

I can use the phrase "good sweats" in a sentence with a straight face

I put on a little make-up to go to the gym (sorry, my girliness has to come out somewhere and the "good sweats" aren't doing it for me)

I've become even less tolerant of traffic and parking. If I have to go out, I try to avoid commute hours.

I sometimes forget what day of the week it is

I still have a minor obsession with office supplies and I thought of going to Staples as a "field trip"

I'm thinking of getting wireless so I can work in my backyard

I miss my shoes but my "good flip-flops" are getting a work-out

I log on before I brush my teeth (usually online by 7 AM) and I take a break to play b-a-l-l with Jonas in the afternoon

I secretly feel a little spoiled, even though I know I am getting more work done

Comments (28)

  1. Tadashi says:

    Ha! What section in staples do you like the most? stationary? pens? Personally I like things that help with organization. Folders and paper clips.

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Tadashi, I love the pens and I like the organization stuff. I also admit that I have my eye on a real "desk chair" for at home (I shouldn’t tell anyone what I am sitting on right now but it’s not a real "desk chair").

  3. --Lisa says:

    Go wireless.  At home, I work from my pool deck.  Nothing like a conference call to India at 8 am while you are drinking coffee on the patio or struggling with an ornery product brief while your feet are dangling in the pool. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Jonathan says:


    Telecommuting is contagious and I’ve been fortunate to do it for about six years.  Due some family issues I parted ways with the company I was working for, but started my own computer consulting biz, so I can continue to work from home.

    There are those who don’t like telecommuting, since they don’t think they’ll get much done OR there are bosses who are still stuck in the big beaurcracy of management that they need to "see their workers".

    I find telecommuting cuts down on the insane meetings that the ergonomic era has created.  I can sit in a call (with the phone on mute) and still get other work done when the call isn’t focused on my tasks or turns off-topic.  I also love working in whatever trips my trigger at the moment.

    Keep it tup.

    ~ Jonathan

  5. Margo says:

    I am absolutely obsessed with butterfly clips.  I can totally commiserate on you about being obsessed with office supplies.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Lisa- you are making that sound really good. Obviously no pool here but still ; )

    Jonathan-I didn’t always love it. I used to need distinct sepration between work and home. Now that I have a separate home office, I get that plus the comfort of not having to leave the house.

    Margo-I guess we all have out thing ; )

  7. Lucy says:

    Love the list! I can add a few more:

    – If a lunch outing is previously planned, I set my alarm early to get up and shower and dry my hair. Unless I am meeting other tele-commuters and then it is unspoken that it is ok to show up in "good sweats".

    – If my husband makes dinner plans for us, he has to call or IM me to warn me. It is not a "given" that I will be presentable after work.

    – The UPS man has figured out that I am home all day and every day, so he defaults to buzz our condo if the actual recipient isn’t home. This angers me and I scowl at him plus it gets the dog all riled up.

    – My secret crack is the pens/pencils department at any office supply store.

    – If I’m on a conference call that I need to pay attention to and listen, I can’t do other work. I have been known to knit while listening though. I actually find it focuses my brain and I pay better attention to the call!

  8. Wine-Oh says:

    Heather, you can always get one of those inflatable pools for the backyard to dangle your feet in. I am sure your dog would love it too. Just be sure not to drop the laptop in it. All this talk about yards and pools makes me want to move out of NYC for more space. Vertical living is getting weary.

  9. You forgot one other highlight, checking the mail, real mail not email. That is getting out for me.  Other than that, your post pretty much nailed my day.  8 months in on telecommuting…

  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    Lucy- I just went grocery shopping in "good sweats"…well, I went to the gym first. I have stopped using my alarm unless I have an 8 AM call and really then, it’s just a back-up. I’m usually up between 6:30 and 7. I can’t believe I am now a "morning person", but I did fall asleep at 9PM last night (what a nerd!) which I do now and then when I am not battling insomnia. I’m sure that it has something to do with the exercise.  I do find that meeting friends for lunch or dinner causes a little excitement in that I have a reason to try to make myself pretty (even if it’s just with the gals). I’m with you on the secret crack…glad I am not the only one. And I clean my desk if I’m on a slow conf call.

    Wine-Oh, I tried that and the dog was less than enthusiastic. It just ended up collecting yard funk so I tossed it.  The truth is it doesn’t get too, too hot here.

    Stewart, you are right. I hear the mail truck and I get a little thrill. I’ve taken to ordering things online so I can have stuff delivered.

  11. Kim Thompson says:

    I’m a ‘newby’ to telecommuting but love it!  

    You’ve got to get the wireless going.  Wireless is to telecommuting what telecommuting is to being in an office.  It will change your world.  Although I have noticed it causes my work ‘stuff’ to spread to other areas of the house, which I have to be conscious of given I share the house with my husband!

    Regarding office supplies…I’m on that boat with you!  Not sure if you’ve ever checked out office supplies in Germany but they are different — and very ‘cool’.  Not sure why that is…further take on BMW/German engineering style, perhap?  Anyone know of a place in Seattle that sells?  Could make a field trip out of it!  

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    Kim-the German office supplies sound interesting.

  13. Wine-Oh says:

    Question for all you telecommuters…

    Do you ever miss interacting with people face to face or being able to poke your head into an office or cubicle? Seems that if you need to collaborate with someone its over IM or via email. Id be open to telecommuting part of the time, but I would need to get out of my house. Also are there any company incentives to telecommuting?

  14. HeatherLeigh says:

    That’s a loaded question…who is going to say they don’t want to interact with co-workers ; )

    For me, since my team is dispersed around the US, we do a lot by phone. I schedule regular check in calls with the contractors that report to me.

    I get my social interaction other places, mostly. I go to the gym, meet friends for coffee, etc. I think it’s definitely the kind of thing where you need to make an effort to get out. Luckily, my neighbor on one side is retired and on the other side works from home as well. So there are people sounds in my neighborhood during the day.

  15. gretchen says:

    I’m a month into telecommuting, and I can not believe how much it’s improved my quality of life … and work productivity.  Like Heather, I was worried about the separation between home and work – but I’ve found little tricks (like when my desk lamp is turned off, the office is closed) that have really made that separation very easy.

    I agree with everything everyone has said here.  I have a lunch date today, so I washed my hair.  Otherwise, I may not have. ๐Ÿ™‚  And I have certainly stocked up on the good sweats.

    The best part for me is spending time with my dogs … although my husband has started to look at me funny when I unknowingly engage in very meaningful conversations with one of them.  What can I say?  They are my only in-office coworkers so we have lots to talk about.  My older dog Oliver is my Chief Business Analyst.  Sometimes he makes really poor decisions though.  Duncan, the younger one, is our morale committee chair.  And Andi, my cat, is the Director of Security for my location.  She reports directly into Zoëโ€™s cat, Loki, who is our Chief Security Officer.  I think Andi and Loki have some very heated 1:1s – but I’m too afraid to ask.

  16. Jonathan says:

    I agree about "seeing co-workers" being a loaded question.  I worried about that previously, but the problem is that in most cases I’ve been so busy that when I see co-workers it’s at meetings and that usually turns a 30 or less minute meeting into a two-hour social time.  We spent so much time interacting via IM, NetMeetings or whatever, so that became our "popping our head in".

    Also, I’m not a fan of "popping one’s head in", since it usually ended up wasting time, mine or the other persons.  Now, when I see friends it’s for drinks or other "off-work" time and it’s much more valuable interaction.

    I find I’m much more productive and happy telecommuting, since I can hyperfocus on my work without the endless meetings, watercooler chat, long lunches or whatever.  When I’ve gone to the home-office it’s been great to see people instead of the take-for-granted attitude.

    Finally, working from home has helped be more involved in my neighborhood and see/hear things I might miss working in a office for 12 hours a day.

    Finally, I don’t miss the endless commute and when I want to listen to talk radio I simply pop it open on my system and needn’t worry about offending others.


    P.S.  Gotta check on pool availability at the local stores.  feet in the water sounds too good and I’ve been wireless for years.

    P.S.S.  If you’re going wireless you might want to consider getting one of the new Pre-N routers, since they will extend the distance you can be from the main router and you’ll get better signal quality due to MIMO technology.  I know that’s geeky sounding in a recruiter blog, but trust me it will be worth the extra cost.   I have a hodge-podge network of wireless gear from different companies, but it works just great.

  17. Paul says:

    My thing is "dress shorts".

    I have to admit that I actually miss going to an office.  Phone calls are not a good substitute for the friendships and creativity bursts that happen spontaneously when people meet in a hallway or in the caferia, or when you poke your head in an office to say hello.

    So, I crave getting dressed up to meet a client, or to attend a networking or other kind of event.  It makes me feel like I’m going to a formal party, and I get happy planning what I’m going to wear and thinking about when I have to leave, etc.

    I love paper.  24 lb extra bright Bond Paper (even better if I spring for linen), envelopes, stickies — cool stuff like that.  And gadgets for my phone or computer.  One can never have enough gadgets when you work at home, and there is no expense-obsessed controller or office manager saying you can’t have it.  Can one be an office supplies shopaholic?

    I always thought working in your underwear was the dirty little secret (not that I ever do, or that mine are), but these revelations seem more like universal truths.  Who would have known?

    (Oh, and I do get some secret pleasure out of chatting with the carpool moms at my kids’ school, if I get there early enough.)

  18. Wine-Oh says:

    I know I was just testing you. Its nice to be seen in person sometimes.  When I work from home, my dog gives me a look to get off the computer or phone. That look means come play with me or lets go for a walk. Does Jonas do that?

    PS- I am this close to finishing my resume that I promised to get to you a few weeks ago. I didn’t forget about it. Just been out of town, etc.

  19. HeatherLeigh says:

    OK, Gretchen, you are starting to scare me a little bit ; )

    Jonathan-my team does the IM thing too. And we have team meetings vis phone…it’s really kind of nice. I’m with you 100% on the popping one’s head in thing. Maybe I am a control freak but I like social time to be social time and work time to be work time. I can’t tell you how many times someone has "popped in" at the exact wrong time and then I feel badly about not being able to talk to them much or seeming preoccupied. Hey, thanks for your geeky suggestions. Don’t think less of me but I was going to ask my dad to help me with the wireless set-up. I’m sure I *could* do it myself, but why deny my father the pleasure of helping me doing the right way? ; )

    Paul-one can be an office supplies shopaholic. The great thing about office supplies is they keep running out and you have to go back for more. I had no idea others felt the same way about office supplies as I do. Must be the novelty factor.

    Wine-Oh, Jonas does do that. He will sit behind me boring a hole through my head with his laser eyes until I notice that he wants to play. When I get on the phone, he left out a little noise to let me know that he does not appreciate the total loss of my attention. Funny, as I was typing this, he got bored with me and left to go outside to lay in the dirt. I’ll take that resume any time you feel like sending it ; )

  20. tod says:

    Definitely go wireless! I don’t have a pool either, but it’s awesome to be able to sit on my back porch watching my daughter play out of one eye and working/playing on my laptop with the other. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have considered tele-commuting, especially since last year’s push by MSN, umm, Windows Live, to introduce flex-time. I commute from Arlington to Redmond (43 miles one way) and the primary thing that has kept me from telecommuting at all is that I ride a vanpool. With Microsoft’s subsidization, I only spend $8/month out of my pocket to commute on the vanpool. Obviously I still have the travel time, but when I’m not driving I can sleep, work on my laptop or read. The other nice thing is that staying late isn’t an option anymore.

    If I were to lose the vanpool then I would tele-commute 2-3 days a week. I still couldn’t let go completely of face time with my boss/co-workers and the design sessions I have with my fellow dev.

    I can’t say it enough though…get wireless! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. tod says:

    Oh, and Gretchen’s comment is hilarious! I love her new company’s hierarchy. Sounds like her and Zoe are the Individual Contributors while the animals are climbing the management ladder. Sweet! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. HeatherLeigh says:

    tod-that vanpool is a good work/life discipline tool for sure. I can definitely understand why dev teams need some face time. Makes sense. I’m in an unusual role (unusual in that I kind of made the job up and then sold my chain of command on it) that is primarily externally focused. I do have meetings when I run programs but since the participants are often working remotely as well, it’s no problem to have the meetings on the phone. I’ll go into the office every now and then but mostly prefer to meet work friends for lunch or dinner.  

    And there’s no question who’s running the place over at Gretchen’s house ; )

  23. Todd Raphael says:

    I have this Verizon card that allows you to be wireless anywhere (airport, car, Yosemite, Fallujah, whatever). I used to have to go to places that "had wireless" — Panera Bread, "hotspots," etc. Now I can … work everywhere!


  24. HeatherLeigh says:

    Todd-that’s really cool. But now, for some reason, I can’t help but picture you in a street side cafe, wearing a beret and typing on your computer. You don’t seem like the beret type to me, but that is the image stuck in my head ; )

  25. roger says:

    Oddly enough, I too play ball too and have become spoiled because of it. Good day.

  26. HeatherLeigh says:

    roger- if you get belly rubs as well, then that might be weird. But the ball-playing doesn’t surprise me.

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