It was only about 10 years ago that the concept of working from home was foreign to me. At the time I was working for a large, international high-tech firm, I still wasn’t able to go mobile. We had to jump through a lot of hoops to access our email from anywhere but our office, and we certainly didn’t have the simple ability to log in to our work network from afar. That kind of “special” access was reserved only for the higher-ups in the company.
So, unless it was something you could do without needing access to the company network, working from home was rarely an option. Not only that but you felt kind of funny even broaching the subject for fear that your boss would think it an excuse to slack off for a day or two.
Times sure have changed. These days it seems that workshifting has almost become ubiquitous. Or has it?
The Boss Who Doesn’t Get It
I once worked for a consulting firm where the boss was dead set against remote working – it simply wasn’t part of the company culture. I was working part-time as a contractor, and at first they expected that I’d be in the office at set times every week. I assured them that was not only impossible, given my other client commitments, but also totally unnecessary. I told them I would be able to accomplish everything they’d tasked me to do in the timeframe they needed completely from my home office. I explained that if I wasn’t physically in the office, then it would actually save them effort and money – they wouldn’t have to find me a work space in their already overcrowded office, and I wouldn’t be using any of their resources: no computer, no additional software licenses, no supplies. Even their coffee would be safe!
It took some time and a bit of work on the technical side to open up their network to me, but the boss finally agreed to let me do it. And ultimately, it worked out great. So much so that now several of their employees work remotely from time to time. Sometimes it takes setting the example for workplace culture and attitudes to change, so if you’re in an environment where working from home is still frowned upon, then maybe it’s time to help your boss see the light!
The Client Who Doesn’t Get It
When my partner and I first started our business 7 years ago, we immediately ran out and got an office space. We figured that in order to seem “legit,” we needed a place in a good location with a sign and parking spots. While that may be true for some businesses, it wasn’t really necessary for us, since we were selling services (web design and video production) (Film streaming HD). We kept the space for 2 years before we decided it was an extra expense that simply wasn’t needed. We realized we could fulfill all of our obligations to our clients by working in a virtual office. Our video editors and web developers were also very happy to work from home.
At first I was really concerned that by not having an office we’d somehow be a less legitimate business – that our clients would not take us seriously. But as time went on, I realized people were growing more accepting of companies who don’t keep physical offices. In fact, they see us as “lean and mean” – less overhead lets us keep our prices reasonable and our service efficient and fast. Don’t worry too much about how clients might perceive you if you operate a virtual office – they may well see it as an advantage.
Times really are a-changing when it comes to remote work. As workshifters, it’s up to us to lead by example to educate and inform those who still don’t get that workshifting is a productive, efficient and cost-effective way to do business.