Jan 31 2012

cubicleTomor­row, Feb. 1st is the 3rd annual Work­ing Naked Day. Now, if you’re pic­tur­ing me run­ning around in my birth­day suit or skivvies shout­ing “Woohoo! It’s Work­ing Naked Day!” sorry to dis­ap­point. I work next to win­dows so I can look out­side and enjoy the day. The “boss” always gets the cor­ner office with a view, right? ?

No, “Work­ing Naked”, has an entirely new mean­ing to those of us who work from home offices. You can read this arti­cle: Work­ing Naked Day: 10 Ways to Make You More Pro­duc­tive, to learn more about it and also find 10 new ways to cel­e­brate Work­ing Naked Day by becom­ing more pro­duc­tive. For me, Work­ing Naked is work­ing with­out a net. It’s work­ing with­out the ben­e­fit of a large cor­po­ra­tion, an entire team of peo­ple for those extra tasks, ben­e­fits them­selves, or a guar­an­teed steady pay­check. As some­one who spent the bet­ter part of two decades work­ing in the cor­po­rate world, the dif­fer­ences when you strike out on your own as an entre­pre­neur in a home office are dra­matic — almost trau­matic at times. Get­ting up and head­ing straight to the com­puter in my jam­mies is great. Hav­ing no com­mute and jump­ing straight into my day while I’m still fresh is some­times the best part of the work­day. On the flip side, there’s no one to chat with at the cof­fee pot in the morn­ing — or as a few for­mer co-workers might say about me, no one to at least grunt at while wait­ing for that first cup (my SH and part­ner isn’t the morn­ing cof­fee kind of per­son ? ). Then there’s that pile of dishes from last night star­ing me in the face while start­ing the cof­fee. I do have to remind myself to take breaks too, com­pared to some cor­po­rate jobs where you’re star­ing at the clock watch­ing the sec­onds tick until your next break or lunch. Work­ing from home, I grab my lunch and eat at my desk. Many com­pa­nies I worked for didn’t allow you to eat at your desk — you had to take an hour for lunch and walk away from your desk. There are dif­fer­ences that I miss and oth­ers that remind me why I’m work­ing from home in the first place. Inter­est­ingly enough, many of those are the same. When I do take on a free­lance con­tract where I’m back in an office, I get to expe­ri­ence the things I enjoyed about cor­po­rate jobs. The dead­lines are not my own, which makes bal­anc­ing my time among multi-tasking some­what eas­ier. Deci­sion mak­ing in the cor­po­rate world for the job at hand comes fast, leav­ing less to worry about or ana­lyze over. And I will admit the praise of a job well done from some­one else makes me feel good about my con­tri­bu­tion. Counter that with what drove me out of the cor­po­rate arena: the dead­lines are not my own … deci­sion mak­ing over long term job roles or com­pany changes is deathly slow, if it ever hap­pens at all … there’s no time for analy­sis nor desire for it in may cases … and not get­ting praise or recog­ni­tion when you have done a good job — or worse, the praise and recog­ni­tion you earned/deserve going to some­one else all made work­ing in the cor­po­rate world a liv­ing night­mare.

Why do I go back? In spite of a fail­ing econ­omy — Or per­haps because of it. There’s no such thing as job secu­rity any­more. — I am extremely picky about the com­pa­nies for which I am will­ing to work. After inter­view­ing, I turned down one posi­tion not once, but twice; the sec­ond time a year after they had first offered. The job came open again within a year for the very rea­son I refused to take it. It was more work and respon­si­bil­ity than one per­son or one posi­tion could fill. I’ve dis­cov­ered you can often find out which com­pa­nies are worth your time just by look­ing at the job descrip­tion. You say you want some­one who can do both HTML5 and Flash? There’s an inter­vie­wee red flag right there. The com­pa­nies I do work for are com­pa­nies where employ­ees mat­ter. Where no one per­son is allowed to take away from some­one else. And most impor­tantly, where super­vi­sors under­stand time and resource con­straints as eas­ily as they under­stand bud­get con­straints. (Why that one as the most impor­tant? Try work­ing for a com­pany that expects at least 20 thirty-minute or longer phone calls to fit within a 7 1/2 hour work­day plus doing 3 to 5 hours of other tasks and not allow­ing multi-tasking dur­ing those calls. If you’re keep­ing up with the math, that’s a 13 hour work­day at min­i­mum. Impos­si­ble, you say? So did I. For which I received mul­ti­ple rep­ri­mands and a cut in pay. And some­how I think those super­vi­sors are still won­der­ing why their depart­ment was removed entirely from that com­pany.) In other words, I have worked for the worst of the worst com­pa­nies out there. But since then, I’ve dis­cov­ered what I con­sider the best of the best. Those are the com­pa­nies I seek out and that I’m will­ing to give my time to. The pay­checks I receive allow me to con­tinue pur­su­ing my entre­pre­neur­ial dreams. They pay the bills and keep me out of debt. I haven’t owned a credit card in over 2 years. Over­all, my health and hap­pi­ness have improved tremen­dously. And in return, I’m able to give the com­pa­nies I work for a qual­ity prod­uct at pro­duc­tion speed.

None of that, how­ever is my pet peeve. That comes between those free­lance gigs where I get up and go to an office every day. The days when I’m work­ing from home, build­ing and grow­ing my own busi­ness. It’s very elo­quently stated by Bri­ana in her video blog about work­ing from home. “Why don’t you get a ‘real job’?” And for me, that state­ment comes from the one per­son it shouldn’t. Mom. I’ve lost count of the num­ber of times she’s stung me with, “My youngest daugh­ter can do that. She doesn’t have a ‘real job’,” while vol­un­teer­ing me to take on some­thing I never per­son­ally agreed to. I have two sis­ters who live closer to her than I do. One makes her own sched­ule (and so could do any of the things I’m called upon for) and has 3 days off a week. The other only works 3 days a week (and so could do any of the things I’m called upon for as well). And Dad? Has so many paid vaca­tion and sick days dur­ing a given year that he never man­ages to use them all. No. It has to be me. Because I don’t have a real job. Yeah, that stings. The one thing Mom will never under­stand is part of my reply to Briana’s blog post: When I’m not in my office or stu­dio, I’m not earn­ing money.

Yes, I work from home. Yes, it is hard work. No, I don’t earn enough (yet) to pay my share of the bills or even have any of the lux­u­ries many peo­ple take for granted. 30% of my income goes to the gov­ern­ment. I have no insur­ance and there’s never going to be a paid vaca­tion. None of that hurts me or my busi­ness more than “you don’t have a real job.” So, I’ll be work­ing harder at #10 on the Work­ing Naked pro­duc­tiv­ity list. Let every­one know you mean busi­ness. Will it be easy? As any­one knows, any­thing deal­ing with a mother is never easy. But that is why I’m an entre­pre­neur after all, isn’t it? If I backed away from some­thing because it isn’t easy, I’d have closed my busi­ness years ago. In the mean­time, I’ll be spend­ing Work­ing Naked Day dri­ving Mom to the den­tist for the 2nd time this week. How­ever, when I get back home — to my office — I just might strip and shout, “Woohoo! It’s Work­ing Naked Day!” before get­ting into my jam­mies and get­ting down to work. ?