Working Remotely

Submitted by Christie Nash on January 5, 2015 - 10:03am
A book review of Remote: Out of Office

December 1, 2014 marked my very first day as the new Deepening Community Animator for Tamarack.  I have been following the work of Tamarack for the last seven years and was over the moon excited to become part of the team.

Over the past month I have been supported with kindness, intelligence, and delightful humour by all the staff at Tamarack as I grow into my new role. 

One of the biggest transitions for me in this new position is working remotely.  Having spent the last 10 years working in small community-based not-for-profits, I have become accustomed to working within an office setting.  You show up at the same time everyday, hammer away at the computer in your office, chat with your colleagues, break the day up with an internal meeting or sneak away for a meeting outside.  You get to know your colleagues really well- the ins and outs of their personal lives and their professional endeavours.  I love people! I love working with people!  How was I going to transition to working from home?  I was afraid I would feel isolated and get bogged down with my home “to-do list” (as a mother of two, young kids, this list can get fairly long!).  On the other hand, I also relished the idea of not having to commute, to be able to spend more time with my family. And I am not going to lie, the idea of switching the laundry or putting on some soup over my lunch break was very appealing.

In my second week on the job, Paul Born asked us all to pick up the book Remote: Office Not Required, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.  It is a well-written book illuminating the bonuses and challenges to working remotely, both from the employee and the organizational side.  There is no doubt by the end of this book, however, the pros FAR outweigh the cons.

For me, one of the highlights of the book is when they dispel myths associated with working from home.  For example, they discuss the illusion of how working from home makes people lazy and unproductive.  They argue this point by stressing the importance of hiring the right people who are good at what they do and are passionate about their work and trusting them to get the job done.  They also argue that, in fact, most people are far more productive when they work remotely as they can work at their own pace without the constant interruptions that are ubiquitous in an office setting.   It also becomes obvious much quicker if a person isn’t getting the job done when they are working remotely than if they are in the office showing up all the time but not getting the work done because their peers can hold them accountable.

The other part of the book that resonated with me is how they outlined some of the keys to success.  The idea of working flexible hours with a minimum of a four-hour overlap for team projects and regular in person meet-ups depending on what best suits the team (at Tamarack we aim to get together monthly for at least a day, however, depending on what is coming down the pike, sometimes it is less or more frequent).  They also list all of their recommended technology and software for working remotely, GoToMeeting, Sharepoint, and Googledocs just to name a few- all software that we use at Tamarack.

After a month of working remotely I have to say that I agree with all the points in the book.  Despite my hesitation originally, I do feel that I can be equally, if not more, productive working from home than I was at the office.  I still feel very much a part of a team and a community because of the software we use and the check in mechanisms that are in place at Tamarack.  I also love that Tamarack is able to hire people from London, Waterloo, Goderich, Caledon, Peterborough, and Ottawa and other places- and that we can all remain within our communities and yet be a part of a national movement. 

Needless to say, I feel very blessed for this opportunity.  It is not often these days you can find a job that you are passionate about AND fosters balanced work/life expectations.