Telecommuting rationale (Was: Questions about the work day for the Whirlers)

Subject: Telecommuting rationale (Was: Questions about the work day for the Whirlers)
From: Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:30:28 -0700

> In tech writing, once youâve put in your on-site research with SMEs, the
> compiling of written material and help content can be done from anywhere.
> Iâm not sure why more people â especially those with demanding schedules --
> arenât pushing to take advantage of that to make their lives easier.

I'm completely in your camp, Lynne.

My last contract engagement was for a company that had never had a
techwriter before; no one was quite sure what role I would play or even
what a techwriter does. After all, everyone there uses Word/Excel/Publisher
(ugh!) and can write, so where's the need?

Their HR folks not having any knowledge of telecommuting (most workers
there punch a timeclock), the job required me to be onsite at 7:00 AM. This
required a very aggressive, one-hour drive, drawing on my map-reading and
navigational abilities to develop "the path less traveled." (Here I could
relax, enjoy some country scenery, and more fully appreciate my MP3
collection. The problem here is a geographic oneâthere is no easy way to
get across the American River east of downtown Sacramento.)

Once onsite, I would bid good morning to a few co-workers, sit down in my
tiny cubicle, slip on my headphones, and go into "the zone" where I got my
work done. There was only an occasional need to speak to someone, such as a
SMEâsomething that could easily have been done using the phone/email. Each
day I was completely isolated, so there was little point to rising earlier
than normal, then devoting two unpaid hours every day to incur additional
wear and tear on my serenity and 14-year-old vehicle (there's no rust here
in NorCal). Meanwhile, I was also consuming $60 of fossil fuels per week.

After a month of that nonsense I petitioned my bossâa recently-minted
marketing director (they hadn't had one of these before, either, and it
clearly showed)âwith the business case as to why, as a contractor, I should
be able to work from home, coming into the office Fridays only. The CEO,
also newly-minted, had to apparently make that call, and so I sat for two
more weeks until their executive committee could see the light of day.

After about two more weeks in my new telecommuting role, my contract was
abruptly terminated (although the project I was working on wasn't wholly
complete and I was the sole wearer of the magic decoder ring). The
marketing manager had brought in another techwriter who was willing to
endure the same commute/cubicle isolation routine to which I subjected
myself. I shook the dust off of my sandals and repaired to the comfort of
my home.

Now three months later, I am hoping to remain a 100% virtual, freelance
techwriter. So far, so good, with the aforementioned client using my
services once again to complete the project no one else wants to touch (I'm
in possession of the decoder ring, remember?). Moreover, I have been
blessed with another clientâtotally virtualâwho keeps me very busy finding
synonyms for "attack" and "protection" (it provides a cloud-based
enterprise security solution).

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Long live the Internet!

> Chris

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