“Tumble outta bed | And stumble to the kitchen | Pour myself a cup of ambition”, Dolly Parton, 9-5
Well, here we are at the end of my working from home odyssey. I fully expected to title this post “In praise of going to the office”, but I surprised myself and managed some substantial productivity. Something tells me that my promise to document was definitely at play in keeping me honest, but my to-do list really did scare the shit out of me, so a good combo, indeed.
This was my least productive day. Anyone who follows me on Twitter can vouch for that (sorry, guys!). Mainly the result of dealing with buggy software, receiving a summons for jury duty during Superconference and not being the most organized in my approach to instruction design lead to a lot of false starts and scratching the surface of a bunch of different things. But, I can say in all honesty that I worked a solid 7.5 hours with only a brief lunch/laundry break and I welcomed the promise of some fresh air to shovel the driveway and get my blood pumping at the end of it.
Shit got real on Thursday. I was screen-casting. I was talking learning outcomes. I was navigating the murky waters of citing online sources in APA (will this source change or not? is it easily located?, etc. etc.) and trying to distill it for 1st years using online tools only. Oy. I felt I had it mostly done in time to turn my attention to my ER&L conference proposal. I scrambled to switch gears and meet up virtually with my co-presenters. Then there was time to review a few reports that I should be paying close attention to, and the ever present email monster. I snuck in about 20 min. of yoga before my boys arrived home, and it was quitting time. I was spent. Easily clocked 8.5 hrs with no break.
After reviewing the Blackboard module with my patient husband, I realized that I had major revisions to do. I was at the computer by 7:10am to get at ‘er, only to have that plan slightly derailed by the release of the revised LAC Code of Conduct. A check-in at the office and plans made for acquistion-y stuff, cleaning up email loose ends and more screen-casting and the continuation of my Blackboard odyssey. The next thing I knew, it was 2pm and I am spent. Dashing off this blog post is the last thing I’m doing before punching the proverbial clock.
At the end of day one, reflecting on my plans to apply for a one year sabbatical in the near-ish future, I recalled how I felt after being at home for the first couple days of mat leave, “how the hell will I manage this FOR A YEAR?” My back hurt and I missed my office set up. I hadn’t made it to the gym, and the weather precluded me going for a run at home (daily movement is crucial for my wellbeing). It really hit home that I need to be around people (hence my social media presence). But after Thursday, I realized that when I have a really meaty problem to tackle, I need time and quiet in order to sort through it. In my office environment, that’s a rarity. Between meetings, random chatting and then the stuff that just comes up, my days are often over even before I feel they’ve started. There are days in which I struggle to quantify exactly what I did, but know that I was busy the entire time. However, it’s that “stuff that just comes up” that builds a strong team/organization, and if you aren’t there to be part of it, you don’t have the opportunity to develop and nurture relationships. This, I truly believe.
Rightly or wrongly, I’ll probably continue to use professional development days for future project based work from home days. What happens when I run out of them and I absolutely feel I need to work from home? What about those who don’t have the luxury of PD time to request? Well, there’s the rub. What management struggles with is the fact that there will be abuse of working from home if it is granted as an option on an organizational level. There’s a fear that the floodgates will open and it will be too hard to close them. That is why I think all requests need to be judged on their own merit, and on a case-by-case basis. I also think it’s important to have specific tasks to accomplish. Aimless hours spent in front of my laptop without a deliverable to motivate me would be disastrous. But employers should be willing to give their employees the benefit of the doubt that they will rise to the challenge; if trust is offered, I’m wiling to bet that most won’t blow it. A couple loads of laundry here and there notwithstanding.
Happy holidays everyone! I’ve had a helluva year. It’s motha-effin’ Miller time. Cheers!