All posts tagged “telework”

Freelance Jam #6: Working From Anywhere

Find Legitimate Work From Home Jobs With FlexJobs.com

A little while back I posted a video from Jason Sadler of IWearYourShirt.com where he talks about (and wears a shirt for) FlexJobs.com.  Sara Sutton Fell, the CEO of FlexJobs, contacted me recently about doing an extended review of her site on AnywhereMan.  She gave me access to the site and today’s video gives a little insight into what I found.

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Both Sides of Telecommuting

I just found this video by Creative Destiny LLC on Vimeo and am LOLing and ROFLing all over the place. It’s very true to AnywhereMan life:

“Just pour yourself a cup of coffee in the morning, flip on the computer, and start working!”

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Telework: It IS Easy Being Green

If Kermit was a teleworker, being green might be a little bit easier.

I was recently approached by the folks at Broadband for America to see if I would be willing to write a post about the environmental benefits of teleworking. Without hesitation, I said “yes” as I think the conversation of telework with regards to the green movement is just one of those things that makes sense (regardless of your political position, pollution is bad, right?!).

I’ve mentioned this before, but when I lived in the Twin Cities I made the daily commute to work each day. Not only did sitting in my car for 45 minutes drive me nuts, but so did the idea of wasting gas to sit in front of a computer all day. A person can sit in front of a computer at home, the library, the coffee shop, a co-working location, or Anywhere…right?

Now that I work from home, not only do I save on gas, I save money from having to pay for gas. And by not driving to work each day, that is one less car on the road to slow traffic down. Think of how quickly traffic would move (and save gas by minimizing stop-and-go traffic) if even 25% of daily commuters converted to telework.  Obviously, not everyone can perform their job in a telework arrangement so some people would still need to make the daily drive.

In order to push this movement towards telework, one of the main requirements is fast and dependable broadband access.  I am lucky enough to live in a region that is not only beautiful, but has fantastic options for broadband access. Grand Rapids has three primary choices for broadband service providers and there’s actually a local grant devoted making sure everyone in the area has access to broadband.

The provider I use has installed fiber optic cable right up to my house, and though I pay for a 1 MB up/down line, I’ve never clocked it at less than 3 MB up/down. We also have numerous dependable public wi-fi locations and a growing tech-incubator location.  It’s awesome to live in an area where I have access to the great outdoors, yet I’m still able to work like I’m in a metro area.

Telework and broadband-availability are positioned to have a tremendous effect on conservation and the decrease of greenhouse-gas emissions:

“According to an American Consumer Institute study, over the next 10 years, broadband applications will decrease greenhouse gas emissions by one billion tons. That study attributed this environmental savings to several broadband applications, including telecommuting, distance learning, teleconferencing and e-materialization.”  (“Telemedicine: Helping Consumers And The Environment,” The American Consumer Institute, Posted 3/4/08)

Switching to a telework arrangement with your employer does not have to be an abrupt, all-or-nothing change. You can start by suggesting a teleconference instead of a drive across town (or flight across the country) to meet with someone in person. You might try to attend a training session online instead of in-person.  By continually thinking along these lines, you may start a movement to telework and save on greenhouse emissions at the same time.

The question to ask is “Do I really need to be somewhere else to get this done?” Basically, do your computer and internet connection allow you to do here what you were intending on doing somewhere else?

Chime in with your thoughts, and take a look at Broadband for America whose mission is “to make broadband access to the internet available to every household in the nation; to provide data transfer speeds to make that broadband experience valuable to users; and to provide the bandwidth necessary for content providers to continue to make the internet a cultural, societal, and economic engine for growth.” Sounds good to me!

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Employee Turned Teleworker Turned Freelancer

My wife and I moved to Grand Rapids, MN in early 2006 after spending our time previous to that in the Twin Cities. I had been working at a small marketing services firm in St. Paul and ended up taking a job with an even smaller web company based up here. After a few months of getting settled in, my old company wanted me to come back to work for them and offered to rent me an office in Grand Rapids with a telework arrangement. I took it.

Today I was reminiscing on the year and a half of teleworking (I was still calling it telecommuting at the time, which it was, but I like “telework” better). I’m glad I did it, and it was my eventual leap into the Anywhere Lifestyle. Here are a couple of simple things I learned when contrasting my time there versus the way I live my life now as a freelancer.

Desktop computers are not ideal for the Anywhere Lifestyle

During my time working from my remote office, I used a custom-built PC with a VPN connection to our company’s network.  Obviously I couldn’t take my machine with me to places like Caribou (which is where I am right now). I could connect to my machine remotely using LogMeIn (which works great!), but connecting to a machine that is then remotely connect to another just isn’t ideal.

Notebook computers are simply the way to go, unless you never want to go ANYWHERE.

I have more human interaction working from home than an office

Though I sometimes complain about the kiddie-noise when working from home, I definitely have more human interaction there are opposed to the office I had previously.  My office was located on the lower level of a building which included a dentist office and counseling center. Neither of those were social hangouts…obviously. There was another person with an office on my level, but she was an insurance adjuster and rarely in the office. I also was not an active member of Twitter or Facebook at the time. It was not the most socially stimulating environment. Not that my home is either, but the option to escape to coffee, lunch, or the library and hang out with others is much better.

Cleaning a home office is easier

Well, for one, my wife is fantastic and really keeps our home clean. Hey, don’t yell at me – she stays at home and manages the family and I stay at home and run a business. Back to the point: when I had my own office, I had to keep it clean, and by that I mean I had to clean it. Yep, I did that about twice the entire time. I also had to supply my own cleaning products and supplies. Again, I only needed them about two times.  Well, needed might not be the right word since they were “needed” more than they were “used.”  The point is, the office didn’t get cleaned much.
These are just some random memories I had regarding my time working from a remote office. I enjoyed the company I worked for and what I was doing, but I will admit I am enjoying my time working from home and elsewhere. It’s good to take time to compare situations as you make changes in your life.

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Telecommuting Job Resource: FlexJobs.com

My friend Jason Sadler at IWearYourShirt.com is wearing a shirt for FlexJobs today. FlexJobs is a site that pre-screens a ton of available telecommuting and online jobs (we call it telework) and they make sure that all of the listings are legit. It’s a pay-as-you-go service, but they are supposedly a great resource.  Just wanted to pass that along to all of you who might be looking for a new gig.

For fun, here is the daily IWearYourShirt video for FlexJobs:

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Communicate as a Telework Team Using Yammer

yammer-timeThe Twitter phenomenon has been absorbed into the daily lives of most of us, and as someone who works from home, it has become my “water-cooler” outlet (as I’ve mentioned before). The idea of keeping followers updated on “what’s on your mind” has become a staple of the web today.

Apply this idea to a team of telework professionals all working for the same company but in different locations.  Imagine being able to constantly keep each other updated on what everyone is working on at any point in time.  The public (and spammy) nature of Twitter wouldn’t work well for this.  

Enter Yammer,  the “internal communication platform” (and a great social network for virtual teams).  Here’s a quick description from the Yammer website:

Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: ‘What are you working on?’

As employees answer that question, a feed is created in one central location enabling co-workers to discuss ideas, post news, ask questions, and share links and other information. Yammer also serves as a company directory in which every employee has a profile and as a knowledge base where past conversations can be easily accessed and referenced.

Anyone in a company can start their Yammer network and begin inviting colleagues. The privacy of each network is ensured by limiting access to those with a valid company email address. Information is never shared with third parties.

In a way, Yammer behaves much like Twitter, but instead takes place within the safety of an organization. In fact, Yammer offers a way to create an org chart for those involved with a particular account.  How does it know who should be in an account? It uses the domain on the member email addresses.

For example, I signed myself up to try out the service. The domain on my email account is liftdevelopment.com.  It then created a central “Liftdevelopment” account, and any other users who sign up with a liftdevelopment.com domain will get added to that group.  

Those that are signed up can then publish their status throughout the day and view statuses of others.  Files can be attached to statuses, messages can be bookmarked, and RSS feeds can be added.  Within a specific account, groups can be created.  Plus, there are desktop, iPhone, and Blackberry versions of Yammer available to take the tools just about anywhere.

Yammer is free, but there are premium paid accounts available that allow you to set up a central admin profile.  Companies with one of these premium accounts can manage users, delete messages and files, export data, remove former employees, etc.

For a one-person company like mine, the functionality of Yammer isn’t something I need. However, for a scattered team of individuals, I can see the collaboration features bringing value to communication and collaboration.  If you fall into this category, be sure to at least check it out as Yammer is getting a growing amount of buzz.

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Pandemic and the ability to work from home

1181863_beware_sign_3The past few weeks it has occured to me that we as Anywhere professionals are at a distinct advantage in the event of an outbreak such as Swine Flu.  Most of us are already at home, primarily communicating with the rest of the world through phone, email, social media, or IM/video chat.  Come to think of it, I feel like I’ve actually gotten sick less often since I’ve been away from a busy workplace surrounded by potentially contageous co-workers.

Today I re-tweeted an article regarding telework and the Department of Homeland Security.  It turns out they are looking at ways to ensure continuity in the event of an outbreak through having some sort of telework structure in place. Smart thinking.

I don’t have anything profound to say regarding this, but just wanted to offer you encouragement that you and I are already out there doing this. If something contageous like Swine Flu begins to take off, we are already somewhat quarantined and can continue our everyday work life as well as anyone.  

Also, if you start getting the sniffles, be sure to take Airborne. That stuff kicks your immune system into high gear!  Tip: Mix it with Sierra Mist, Sprite, or orange juice. This makes it tasted much better.

But remember – I’m a blogger, not a doctor. 

 

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Virtual teams and telework with The Anywhere Office

You’ll see that I’ve linked to this site in my People section, but just wanted to give a public recommendation that you check out Phil & Jason Montero’s TheAnywhereOffice.com.  They provide some excellent content especially targeted at managers of virtual teams.  While my site tends to cater a little bit more towards the freelancer, The Anywhere Office gravitates more towards the world of teleworking.  

If you are not yet living the Anywhere lifestyle, directing your manager or boss to The Anywhere Office may help you convince them that a virtual office team really can work and offers many benefits.  Go read up on their site and as I mentioned, tell them the AnywhereMan sent you. 

Today’s wardrobe courtesy of Freshbooks.

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Work from home and say goodbye to rush hour traffic

I’m passionate about my hatred of traffic and anything traffic-related. This includes an annoyance for road construction, slow-moving farm equipment, and people who have no clue how to drive in snow (and consequently end up in ditches, thus producing “gawker slowdowns”).  

My first remedy for this hatred was a move to rural northern MN, and then ultimately said goodbye to traffic altogether with an upgrade to the Anywhere lifestyle and running my own business from home.  

Today I discuss my thankfulness for my current work situation, and I also talk about some of the added benefits of a movement towards teleworking.  

Do you share my total disgust with a rush hour lifestyle? Any good road rage stories?

 

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