An alternate version of this article was published in the Off Hours column in the April 2015 edition of the Society for Technical (STC) magazine Intercom.
By Barrie Byron, STC Associate Fellow
My commute to work is either very short or very long. On my short commutes, I embrace much gratitude as I stroll down the hall to work in my home office in Boynton Beach, FL or walk down a flight of stairs in Lawrenceville, NJ. Average commute time is less than one minute. On long commutes, I practice the art of resilience as I support the commercial air travel industry on my travels between my two home offices. Average commute time is six hours.
Along with an ever-growing segment of our workforce, I’m fortunate to have a geographically flexible job. We have all heard “have laptop, will travel.” Not always easy, not always fun, but definitely doable. I’m an opportunistic worker with many names: remote writer, work-at-home information developer, OTTO (other than traditional office) worker, and virtual office employee.
My current job as a technical writer is my 4th position that came with an office in a box and without a geographic office. I work for a high tech Silicon Valley startup with globally distributed teams. Every call is a video call, so I can see my colleagues in their different environments. I was inspired to tidy my office backgrounds. I thrive when I am able to build solid relationships at work. With today’s collaborative work culture, enhanced productivity software, and connective communication technology, geography is no longer a barrier to working well on teams.
Life is great! It took me many years to manifest productive work environments. I worked hard and made mistakes as I developed the discipline and skills that are required to work well on my own, and in a variety of environments.
Most of my family lives on the Big Island of Hawaii. My annual commute to Kona, Hawaii is very long: more than 15 hours and longer than 5,000 miles. Because my commute is so long, I stay on the island for at least 3 weeks and create a variety of home offices in paradise. In 2014, I was a guest for 10 days in a beautiful resort-like downstairs apartment at a friend’s place. This “ohana” was an ideal quiet location for my 3:30 a.m. Hawaii time start to my 8:30 a.m. Eastern time work day. The next 10 days I was invited to house sit at a friend’s acre homestead. I fed the chickens and cats and picked papayas during my stay.
There are many ways to find a suitable home office. Our home in south Florida is listed on the www.homeexchange.com website that features prominently in the Hollywood movie “The Holiday” starring Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Hugh Grant, and Cameron Diaz. When we’re away, our home exchange membership creates the opportunity to invite like-minded home exchangers to stay in our home, water our plants, and tend our gardens. When it’s time, we go stay in their home.
How long is your commute? Where will you work this year? Reach out if you are a like-minded traveler and have an interesting home office that you want to swap.