So hopefully you read about my successful Job Design Change and realize the opportunity you may have to steer your own professional work ship. Let me present an equally, or more amazing job change I performed. Three sacred words for many: Work From Home, or two words: Work Remotely.
The year was about 2005. It had been over a year since I narrowed my scope of responsibility but expanded it across global divisions. I spent most of my day working with half a dozen deployment teams located on three continents, while at the same time I was starting to travel more around the country.
Because of the ramp-up of international teams, I was adding more and more daily activities for Europe and Asia requiring earlier start and later end times for my day. Note: I only lived 5 minutes from our offices.
I was feeling a little too time-consumed and remembered how I was truly ‘just an employee number’ to the company leadership so I thought I would do something for me. I decided to start working from home on Wednesdays. I didn’t ask anyone, I just stayed home one Wednesday and worked like normal. This is crazy now that I look back on it, but nobody questioned anything because of the traveling.
I worked on a huge hundred(?) million dollar 10-year project so there were hundreds of people working on this, all over the world, traveling weekly. Obviously people were always out of the office, traveling across town, across the country, and around the world—my boss(es) included (they were often all consumed with the people/positions above them, pushing to climb the megacorp ladder, than worry about my @$$ in a seat).
Tue & Thu:
On Thursdays I’d slide into my desk and there were no “where were you yesterday” questions, no push back, no problems. After a couple of months, I changed to Tuesday & Thursday from home. Same result when I arrived at my desk the next day, no issues. Around this time I started emailing my boss updates, important notices, successes/wins so they ALWAYS knew what was going on. I made sure my boss was never stopped in the hallway (or any site hallway around the world) and be caught off guard with a problem/issue. Remember: Job #1 is to make your boss’ job easier and job #2 is to make your boss look good. (I had multiple great supportive, trusting bosses).
Mon, Wed & Fri…Mon – Fri:
Probably about 9 or 10 months since I originally started Weds, I changed to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from home. Then, which is ultra mind-blowing to think about now, a couple of months later I just stopped going into the office much at all.
So, now I’m not going into the office to work. I’d bet some people thought I just spent full-time at another location because of a deployment, I didn’t know what my peers wondered, and didn’t care. Most of them were mostly concerned about success and climbing the corp ladder like the bosses. I loved my job and the level/pay I was at. My work/life balance was exceptional and maybe some of this all had to do with saving (FU money) for years prior.
Let me recap: within maybe 12 months I went from a cube to working from home without asking. I maintained this schedule for about 10 years. I had no less than FOUR different managers who never questioned my working location—or job function for that matter. I guess when the new manager came into our team they just assumed my location-less life was approved. (funny)
I worked smart. I did a great positive job. I stepped up and took on additional work. I never caused employee problems. I showed energy and passion on conference calls. My mid-year and yearly reviews ALWAYS started the same for years and years, “do not change anything you’re doing.”
Side note: I do believe my pay raises may have suffered a little (bonus not at all). I usually only received 75-80% of the maximum raise range. The mean for the team was 50%. I believe the less-than-max amount was because I wasn’t in person ass-kissing all the time. But because we lived a smart savings lifestyle, and we didn’t need to climb the hedonic treadmill, I didn’t have to earn a lot more each year.
Job was great, work/life balance was great, savings were great, marriage was great, FU money was flowing into our accounts amplifying all of the previous greatness listed.
I close on a funny note—not the one where I couldn’t find my bosses new office for my yearly review—but the one where the department admin assistant emailed me and said
“it has been determined that you have not used your physical desk location in over 90 days [actually much, much longer] so you need to remove your personal items so it can be reassigned.”
I was losing my sweet cube on the 4th floor with a beautiful window view of 20+ miles of desert scenery
Ah, such is life, soon to be LifeInFIRE…
Find little ways to improve your job…your life. As you get stronger financially and professionally you will begin to make some of your own rules. Don’t take from others, but give in a different way.
*** Nothing in this article is to be construed as financial advice. I am not a financial planner, nor do I pretend to be. You should always consult your own professional when seeking advice.