Note: this is Part Two of Annie’s quest to improve her quality of life by moving her office job to a remote work gig. Check out Part One here.
As Annie settles in with her chamomile tea and favorite hoodie, she dreams of waking up to the same tea and hoodie and magically transforming this comfortable, quiet place into her office hours for 8 hours each day – saving gas, countless hours of her life, the stress of the commute and meal preparations, and so much wasted time being forced to listen to office gossip.
She is determined to make it work.
She knows many others who have location-independent careers, and the only thing stopping her is convincing her boss to sign off on it.
She thinks back to the response she gave Tom when he asked if there was any reason she needed to actually work at the office: “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.”
Well, she has a printer. And a cell phone – but she is not about to give any of her clients (or coworkers, for that matter) her cell number. And the conference calls she attends with her boss and colleagues? And the meetings with her boss? She decides these are the main problems she will need to solve before approaching her supervisor.
Fortunately, Annie is just the Research Coordinator to track down these solutions. After some thought, she identifies two major issues that will need to be addressed and decides to tackle one problem at a time and research each of them until she finds her solutions.
Problem #1: The Phones.
Being in the office means Annie is accessible to clients and colleagues. She is easily reached at her office number and extension, and on the rare occasion she leaves for lunch she always checks her voicemail when she returns. Annie doesn’t want any of her clients to have her cell number or to be able to reach her outside of office hours, but if she could work from home she’d happily use her cell phone for work if there was a way to block the number.
If only she could take her desk phone home.
If only she could bring her office number and extension with it.
Solution: She discovers that phone communications, even interoffice lines and countless extensions to one number, can easily be hosted on the cloud in our modern world. This means you can dial one number for a business, and that one number can be programmed to ring to several different people based on the time of day, your area code, and the available recipients. You can even set up groups of people for certain calls to ring to through a nice, easy dashboard. These recipients could be in one office or three different time zones and you might never know it.
Annie learns that with cloud-based voice services, your desk phone can literally be in your back pocket. Your voicemails can be sent directly to your email. You can make and receive calls from your cell with no one ever seeing (or needing) your mobile number. There’s even a mobile app.
Problem #1? Solved.
Problem #2: Meetings.
First of all, 80% of time spent at meetings is a waste. There’s the waiting for the stragglers to arrive. There’s the inherent chit-chat and forced humor to make the social situation more comfortable and to get past the awkward silences (and tension over most people not wanting to be there in the first place). There are the talkers who must have the last word and get their point across, regardless of how relevant (or irrelevant) that point may be. There’s the fact that people meet for routine conversations about routine things simply because they’re all in the same building and working on the same projects. And they feel the need to assemble to talk about it.
Solution: Virtual meetings and conference calls. They are more efficient, and if you have to wait for someone who is running late you are already in your own office and can work while virtually attending the meeting through your headset. (You can also answer emails while someone is going off on a tangent about something that doesn’t involve you!) Plus, when people have to coordinate calls and pay for conference time and services – and they can’t just walk by and pull others into meetings – the meetings naturally become more efficient, more productive and less frequent.
Annie discovers a variety of tools to set up cloud-based conference calls, and she makes a list of video and slide sharing options should the need arise.
Problem #2? Solved.
By now it’s midnight, but Annie is excited, determined and very well-prepared to approach her boss tomorrow. And she’s not even bothered by the fact that she has to get up in five hours to get ready, eat breakfast, make her lunch and drive that long commute to the office.
She does not expect it to be an issue for much longer.