remote work

The Idea

Meet Annie.

Annie is a very talented writer and editor, and both her career and her supervisor allow her to use those talents daily.

Her official title is “Reporting Coordinator” at a research organization that works closely with a local university, but her boss (and most of her colleagues) refer to her as “Grammar Queen.”

She is more than happy to accept that unofficial title.

Annie loves her job, loves the work, and loves her boss. However, there are a few things she would change if she could:

1.     There are quite a few people in her office who have a hard time sitting still. They get up often, mingle in the hallways, gossip in the kitchen (around the corner from her office), and make it very hard to concentrate for more than half an hour at a time. Annie’s boss understands this and made a point to get Annie an office with a door so she could close it and focus. Unfortunately, the noise still comes through and half the people who need to talk to her all day (albeit only 50% of that talk is work-related) think the “Please Knock” sign on her door means “Please Knock once or twice and then come on in. No need to wait for a response.”

2.     The office refrigerator is always full. There are not enough people sharing that particular appliance to justify the capacity she witnesses on a daily basis, however, and the annual fridge inspection always reveals that many leftovers have entered that space as their permanent resting place. Most of her work friends eat out for lunch (or order in) to avoid the infested black hole of expired condiments and rotting leftovers, but Annie is on a budget and is trying to eat healthy – neither of which are easy to do with takeout or any restaurant fare that is within a reasonable driving distance of her office over a lunch hour.

3.     Speaking of driving distance, Annie’s commute is an hour. Each way. That means to get to and from her office, Annie drives at least two hours every day. Ten hours every week. 500 hours each year. Just to get to the office where her dream job is located – behind a closed door that rarely stays closed for long.

She has considered looking for another job, one that is closer to her home. She and her husband are planning to start a family soon and she knows the long commute would be awful with a baby at home.

She has also considered staying at her job and looking for another house, one that is closer to her job. But she and her husband, Tom, worked with the family contractors to build their home and can’t imagine selling it and starting over.

Annie vents about her frustration over her job often, and while Tom understands and agrees that it’s rough, he’s getting tired of hearing about the same problems over and over…if nothing is ever going to change.

On a gorgeous spring evening in late April, Tom finally speaks up.

“Annie, I think you need to make a decision about your job or learn to deal with it. Complaining about it constantly will only cause more anger and stress and you’ll end up hating it eventually.”

“It’s not my job, Tom. I love my job. I love my boss. They pay me well and the benefits are awesome.”

“You’re right. But those things don’t seem to make up for the issues you deal with every day,” says Tom.

Annie nods in agreement.

“If you love your job and have no intentions of leaving, maybe you should talk to your boss since you love her so much. She clearly adores you and knows how good you are at your job – when your coworkers leave you alone – and I’m sure she’d do anything to keep you.”

“Well, I suppose I could mention it to her. After all, it’s not the job or the work that frustrates me – it’s the office and the drive. If I didn’t have to drive an hour each way and work in that office…”

They both immediately think of their friend, Sarah, who is an editor for a national magazine. “Then you’d be like Sarah, working from home and the library and Starbucks all the time,” says Tom

Annie has always envied Sarah’s career. She works wherever and whenever she wants, and she clearly loves every minute of it.

“Annie, is there any reason you need to actually work at the office?”

Annie thinks about that long and hard. The silence lasts an hour. Tom gives her time, because it feels like they are onto something.

“I take phone calls at work. I print things every once in awhile. I have to sit in on conference calls every month. And I have meetings with my boss every other Friday.”

That night, Annie opens her laptop and looks up “remote work.”

Stay tuned to see what she finds…