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Working away from the office: Benefits and drawbacks


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Presentation given to attendees at the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) annual conference, Pittsburgh, March 2015.

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Working away from the office: Benefits and drawbacks

  1. 1. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd1
  2. 2. WORKING AWAY FROM THE OFFICE: Benefits and drawbacks Rhonda BraceyACES March 2015 #cybertext #ACES2015
  3. 3.  Worked remotely full-time since Feb 2007  Several long-term clients in that time (Australia, Israel, US)  Main client since late 2008: Chevron (Gorgon LNG Project)  Rarely, if ever, meet my clients/work colleagues  Mostly do technical editing for large teams of authors About me
  4. 4. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd4
  5. 5. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd5
  6. 6. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd “The virtual office has existed for at least a century... Clothing factories used to drop off piecework at the homes of stay-at-home mothers who would sew the pieces together and receive payment on a per-item basis. …it’s simple enough to give a worker a remote login to your network, a high-speed Internet connection, or whatever other connectivity service she requires.” Lee, TJ. The Virtual Office: Part 2
  7. 7. <date>© CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd7 How many minutes of this per day? 10? 20? 30? 45? 60? More? “I’m sitting in a traffic jam, in the car that I need to get to work, so that I can pay for the house that I’m never in.”
  8. 8. How far/long is your daily commute? © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 8 RAC WA Horizons, June/July 2014, p9
  9. 9. Only to face this for 8+ hours… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 9
  10. 10. 10 Just 3 minutes walk away…
  11. 11. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd11
  12. 12. Positives © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 12 No commute; no madly running errands on the way home; no ironing; more time for family, leisure activities More discretionary time Reduce or cut out: expensive lunches, snacks, drinks (coffee); parking, public transport, fuel, car wear and tear; wardrobe updates, laundry, shoes/stockings, makeup/hair/nails Reduced costs (~$10,000 pa saved) No/fewer meetings; no water cooler chat; few ad hoc interruptions (‘prairie dogging’); little office politics Greater productivity Few interruptions  meet deadlines; work hours to suit body clock/commitments; not rushing; fewer take-outs/meals out; more time for exercise; don’t catch/transmit bugs Less stress/ better health Not running car as often; not consuming as much Reduced footprint on Earth
  13. 13. But it’s not all roses…
  14. 14. Negatives © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 14 Miss ad hoc work and social relationships with co-workers; out of the loop; no body language/facial expression nuancesIsolation Possible increase in power/internet/phone costs; equipment/software costs if employer doesn’t provide; dedicated office space and furniture Increased costs Family/friends may assume you’re always available to do other tasks (chores, shopping, kid taxi, coffee/lunch etc.) Interruptions Managers/co-workers may assume you’re doing nothing or doing things other than work Perceptions Can be too easy to work all hours and not separate home/work lifeOverworking Self-discipline is essential otherwise you’ll get nothing done; beware of distracting yourself with non-work tasksUnderworking
  15. 15. Self-distractions…. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 15
  16. 16. It’s about managing… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 16 Yourself and your time (discipline, routine, distractions) Perceptions of others (ALWAYS be available during core hours) Interruptions (train your spouse, family, friends) Your workspace (dedicated is best, with a door) Your mental and physical health (exercise regime, social contact) Your employer/manager (who pays for what; negotiate core hours)
  17. 17. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  18. 18. Helping hands: If you have these… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 18 Consider telecommuting (at least some of the time) Existing work/ network Existing reputation Supportive employer Supportive family Good self- discipline Appropriate environment
  19. 19. Work types conducive for telecommuting  Suitable work types: ANY! Occasional, temporary, PT, FT, permanent, consultant, contractor…  Suitable time periods: ANY! Full-time, few days a week, occasional, temporarily FT for a period… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 19
  20. 20. Temporary situations for telecommuting  Physical health issues: e.g.:  short-/long-term conditions (e.g. chronic fatigue, broken limb)  recovering from illness/hospital stay  temporary or permanent physical limitations  Mental health issues: e.g. anxiety disorders  Personal issues: e.g.:  primary caregiver for an extended period but can work some of the time  need time to meet/consult others (e.g. dealing with financial/health/car/house issues etc.) © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 20
  21. 21. Takeaways:  Internet essential—the faster the better  Remote access and collaboration tools are getting better all the time  Keep in contact—have regular voice meetings with manager/colleagues Connecting Technologies21 © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  22. 22. Internet © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 22 MINIMUM: Fast broadband/fiber connection Websites, email, social media Conference calls: phone and/or video Transfer/backup data files Connect securely to another system (VPN) Work on another system as though you were there (Windows Remote Desktop: free) Instant messaging (e.g. Microsoft Lync in corporate environment)
  23. 23. Telephony © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 23 Landline, mobile, VOIP (e.g. Skype, Cisco) Skype: • Computer to computer (free) • Smartphone app, conference calls, video calls, chat, voicemail, file transfer, screen sharing... Cisco IP Phone option if already used in office: • Office phone directory • Dedicated local number/extension
  24. 24. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  25. 25. Web conference/screen sharing tools © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 25 Provider Pricing (in US$, as at June 2014) Website WebEx Free (up to 3 people); $24/month (up to 8); $49/month (up to 25) GoToMeeting $49/month (up to 25); 30-day free trial Adobe Connect From $45/month; also ‘pay per use’ option: 32c/user/minute oducts/adobeconnect.html Microsoft Lync Online Various prices depending on Office 365 subs, corporate installations etc. en-us/office365/lync- online.aspx Join Me Free; Pro version from $13/month Fuze Meeting Free (up to 25); $8/month (up to 125) pricing A Google search for web conferencing applications gives >92 million results! Many apps are suitable for tablets too. Examples:
  26. 26. Remote access requirements © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 26 If you need to access:  your own system while on the road  a client’s system from anywhere then you’ll need this information…  Domain name, username, password  Client sys admin to allow VPN access  Tools to provide access, such as:  Remote Desktop (Windows; free!)  remote access to server and networked PCs via web  Microsoft Outlook Web App (if using Exchange Server [or VPN to use Outlook])  commercial desktop and web tools
  27. 27. Commercial remote access tools © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 27 Provider Pricing (US$, as at June 2014) Website GoToMyPC $10/month for access to one PC (30-day free trial) LogMeIn From $99/year (free trial) TeamViewer From $699/year Soonr From $30/month (3 users) Examples:
  28. 28. IT help © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 28  If no access to corporate IT help, consider ‘pay per use’ on-demand, on-site, or remote services  Some have pre-paid cover plans, and/or managed IT services
  29. 29. Example collaboration tools © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 29 Document sharing tools (e.g. Google Drive, Office 365) File sharing tools (e.g. Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox) Project management tools (e.g. BaseCamp, ToodleDo) Microsoft SharePoint: Tries to do all the above in the one package; success varies… Other: Content management systems, wikis, forums, blogs, Twitter (!)
  30. 30. Twitter examples © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 30
  31. 31. Takeaways:  Essentials: dedicated space with a door  Get a GOOD chair Home Office31 © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  32. 32. <date>© CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd32
  33. 33. <date>© CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd33
  34. 34. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd34
  35. 35. Minimum equipment © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 35 PC and/or laptop Modem/router (preferably with WiFi) Printer (multifunction = smaller footprint—copy, scan, print, fax) Headset (or microphone + speakers [often built-in to laptops]) External, portable hard drives and thumb drives Phone (smartphone is ‘one device to rule them all’)
  36. 36. Nice to have… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 36 Tablet (iPad, Samsung [Android], etc.) WiFi connection (built-in to later laptops; on phone/tablet) Webcam (built-in to later laptops; on phone/tablet) Travel-sized bits and pieces (mouse, cables, chargers [portable battery]) Digital voice recorder (try your phone/tablet) Digital camera (or phone/tablet camera)
  37. 37. Stuff for your body © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 37 Decent desk + chair (you’ll spend a LOT of hours at both, so don’t scrimp) Quiet/free from distractions (noise-canceling headphones, ear plugs) Good lighting Temperature control Exercise
  38. 38. Just for video and conference calls <date>© CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 38 Check background for inappropriate, messy, personal items (test!) (watch for things growing out of your head; use fake background image or screen to cover mess) Ban pets, children, others from the room (lock the door, ‘On Air’ sign) Work in a silent room if possible (no background noises: screeching birds, barking dogs, vacuum cleaners, drills, microwave beeps, etc.) Mute any room noises (e.g. phones, alarms, notification pings) Screen sharing (minimal desktop icons; ‘clean’ file/folder names) Watch for bright lighting (can distract, wash out, or make your face dark)
  39. 39. Just for video calls © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 39
  40. 40. Takeaways:  Costs of commuting are huge—time, money, mental health  ‘Employers of choice’ are those that offer flexible approaches to where/how you work Facts and figures40 © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  41. 41. Some facts… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 41 UK companies spent £24 billion on business travel in 20111 It costs UK employers £7000 per person per desk for office workers1 90% of office workers would like to work from home some of the time1 35% of tech professionals would sacrifice up to 10% of their salaries for full-time telecommuting2 Microsoft dramatically reduced Australian office rent by encouraging employees to telecommute and ‘hot desk’3 1. From "Home of the future" Episode 2: Work (TwoFour Broadcast Ltd, 2012; presenter Chris Sanderson) 2. 3.
  42. 42. Results from studies on commuting… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 42 Lengthy, unpredictable commutes affect physical and emotional wellbeing1 Commuting strain  nervousness/tension, pain/stiffness, irritability, fatigue1 >10% of parents in paid employment spend more time each week commuting than with their children1 On the IBM Commuter Pain Index2 (1 to 100), Beijing and Mexico City = 99, Sydney 40, Toronto 32, Los Angeles 25, New York 19, Houston 17 31% surveyed3 said traffic was often so bad they turned around and went home (69% in Beijing!) 1. From Flood, Michael and Barbato, Claire (2005) Off to Work: Commuting in Australia, Australia Institute, Canberra. 2. IBM Commuter Pain Index (2011): 3. IBM Commuter Pain Index (2010):
  43. 43. Effects of commuting on mental health © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 43  Main article:  Swedish study: often.cid160978  Stutzer and Frey (German study):
  44. 44. Takeaways:  Search for ‘remote working’, teleworking’ ‘telecommuting’, ‘working from home’  Plenty available on benefits/costs of telecommuting and convincing arguments for your boss  List of some on my blog: resources-for-remote-working-presentation/ (all links checked and updated January 2015) Resources44 © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  45. 45. Just for fun…. <date>© CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 45
  46. 46. Any questions? Contact me:  Email:  Website:  Blog:  Twitter: @cybertext  LinkedIn: Thank you…46 © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd