I’m a government proposal editor so far off the Beltway that I have a view of Maine’s Sebago Lake — but no mail delivery service at the end of my dirt road. I am, in more ways than one, what is described as a remote worker.
“The days of everyone being in one big office together are becoming increasingly less common,” says Judi Casey. Judi is the director of the Sloan Work and Family Research Network, whose website is packed with the latest research, news, and statistics about work and family issues. “I’ve worked with many people on projects from around the world… and we’ve never seen each other in person.”
Every Dragonfly Editorial writer and editor works from home. This gives us huge advantages in finding work-life balance. And providing support to our clients nearly 24×7.
And we’re not alone. As of 2005, more than 8.1 million Americans were working from home exclusively, according to a recently released Census report. It’s not surprising that we can write and edit from home. But did you know that your JetBlue ticket reservation agent could be in her jammies with a cat by her feet? At-home workers can prepare taxes, test new video games, or be a customer service agent for 1-800-FLOWERS.com.
The Results-Only Work Environment
Even President Obama is an outspoken supporter of flexible work arrangements. Last spring he unveiled the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) program piloted in the Office of Personnel Management with the revolutionary idea that it’s not how long you sit at your desk that matters, it’s what you get done.
“This involves negotiating new roles and new ways of communicating,” Casey explained. “What if it is 7 p.m. and I have a question. Can I call you then? What if it 10 a.m. and I call you and you’re supposed to be working and you don’t answer? What does that mean? … It is a totally different way of thinking about work and managing work, especially for traditional managers who are used to seeing people in cubes.”
Finding work-life ‘balance’
For us work-at-home editors and writers, the balance in work-life balance is a verb—an action requiring continual flexibility, adjustment and re-adjustment, and decision-making.
Should I take business calls during dinner with my daughter? I usually do, because our work is deadline-driven. Are there places where I am not reachable or try to be not reachable? Yes, of course. But then there was that one time that I was editing an 80-page slide presentation for a European client right up until Thanksgiving dinner was served.
We want to do everything we can to make our clients’ lives easier and their publications the best they can be. But we have to draw the line somewhere. Nearly every day, in our actions large and small, we are determining our priorities and where exactly we draw the line. Overnight turnarounds? Yes. Overnight deadlines that require all-nighters? No, I need sleep.
With work-life balance constantly on my mind, it is little wonder I’m fascinated by the online publications we edit for the Sloan Work and Family Research Network. Geographically, the Sloan Network is just a few hours from me at Boston College. But Sloan’s readers—just like our clients—are global. Sloan’s topics—including telework, part-time work, flexible work schedules, afterschool care, single workers, older workers, phased retirement, elder care, and fathers and caregiving—touch the lives and lifestyles of the editors I work with on Dragonfly projects.
We are, each in our own way, carving out employment that works for us.
Amy Paradysz (email@example.com) recently shifted from freelance to full-time employment with Dragonfly Editorial as an editor and project manager. She gets around the mail delivery thing with a P.O. Box—which also provides a reason to leave the house regularly.