06 March 2010

Working from home

I've been laid off before. It was scary as T-mortal hell. No idea how I was going to pay the bills, pay the rent, feed my kid(s) [quantity depending on which time we're talking about]. So if you're there and you're scared, I know how that feels. Please don't take what follows as instructions for how you're supposed to respond. Although if you can find some truth or a little bit of a deep breath in it somewhere, that's a good thing.

The point I want to make is that taking a deep breath helps. Whether you know what you're going to do next or not - whether you have time to think about it or not. Stopping and breathing deeply is good. It helps you calm down.

It also helps - when your workplace in those last few weeks is a nest of disgruntled people, some because they're about to be out of work and others because they're not happy about being left behind, stuck in the mire - to have a manager who believes in you in spite of it all. One you can go to and say, "May I please work from home a couple days a week? I have to get out of here..." and who responds, "Sure - you work wherever you want. I know it's going to get done, and the finished product will be good, wherever you do it."

(On the other hand, it does once again beg the niggling little question, "How did they decide who was getting let go and who was staying?" And then, sometimes there's no answer, and you just have to move on.)

So for the duration - middle of May-ish, until the agency they've hired to take over for us is ready to take over - I'm home two days a week. Maybe more, by the time it's all said and done. Mondays and Fridays, I can sit in my kitchen in the sunshine, or in my home office once I get it moved back upstairs, and work in peace. No one complaining about having to be there, no one in a panic about what they're going to do when 2/3 of the staff is gone, just me and my assignments and my e-mail account and in-house IM, if I decide to turn it on. If people use it too much for what they perceive as emergencies - things that consume their whole being for the moment but actually fall much lower on the scale of "Grander Scheme of Things" - I'll turn the IM off.

The company will still get its 40 hours out of me each week. As always, it will in fact probably get a little more most weeks, simply because I still love what I do, and I'm notoriously NOT a clock-watcher. But two days a week, I will have the freedom to break when I want, to play with the dogs for a few minutes, to walk outside to the garden for a stretch. I will be able to walk away for a whole hour or more and ride my bike as far as I want, then come back with my brain untangled and be able to focus better, longer. I'll be able to play my music as loudly as I want, sing out loud and dance in the kitchen and not look foolish, and walk around in my bare feet without raising eyebrows. (Let's face it, some of us think better if our feet aren't cooped up. A couple managers back, one of them caught me dashing to the printer - about 4 yards - in my stocking feet and asked where my shoes were. I told her they were under my desk where they belonged.)

And if I work from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., then 3 to 5, then break to cook dinner and eat and then come back and work from 7 p.m. to 9 - or 10 if I feel like it - there won't be anyone walking out the door at 6:30 or so, calling back over her shoulder, "Why are you still here? Time to go home!" I won't have to explain I'm still at it because I'm having fun, doing it right, and I'll leave when I get good and ready.

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