While working from home for the last thirteen years, I have often wondered what I am missing by not having a regular 9-5 job. What is life like on the other side?
For eight and a half days in June I had the opportunity to experience CubeLand. A client needed a web accessibility review conducted on an internal site; hence I conducted the review on-site rather than remotely as I have done with previous reviews. I spent twelve days in Mississauga, Ontario; staying at a nearby hotel and eating at the mallâ€™s food court and restaurants.
Fortunately the commute from the hotel to the office was only a 8 minute (if that) wheel, which was pleasant in the mornings and evenings in decent weather; a nice separation between home and work â€“ something I donâ€™t have working from home. I did miss the mountains though.
The first morning, waiting in the office building lobby for my contact to arrive (he was 30 minutes late due to traffic), I observed others coming into work on Monday morning; robot-like, carrying their cups of motivation.
The buildingâ€™s interior was intriguing: the three elevators went up the middle of the building. At each level, bridges went from the elevators out to the offices around the perimeter of the building.
No doubt the design intended to give a more open, spacious feeling. But sitting there, I felt the creative energy and excitement drain out of me. Perhaps it was just my imagination.
Up until this point, I thought wearing a lanyard with a security pass was a symbol of belonging, a sign of credibility. After wearing one around my neck for 8.5 days to open doors, my view quickly changed to one of annoyance. I am now thankful I donâ€™t need something hanging around my neck to navigate my usual workplace. Besides, I prefer opening doors with only a smile!
My workspace was the third workstation at a long desk of three. Initially, working in such close proximity to others was somewhat daunting as my athetoid cerebral palsy tends to kick into full gear when others are nearby. But, having an intern within armâ€™s reach proved to be valuable as I required ongoing bits of information to navigate the site. (Thanks Tilac!)
The gray, partial cubicle â€“ with windows off in the distance that I could see the top few inches by popping my head over the cube farm – was sufficient for the work I was there to do. However I am not sure I could have accomplished anything more creative, like write a blog post; although maybe that would have come with time and practice.
Having some websites blocked was also a drag. Sometimes using Twitter is definitely work related; other times not so much. I missed not having fellow colleagues in the web accessibility field at my fingertips.
The best part of CubeLand was the people â€“ a welcoming, accepting group. â€œGood morning, Glenda. How was your night?â€ was such a warm way to begin the day.
I sense the face-to-face contact with people (and a regular paycheque) is what I am missing most by not having a J O B. I need to make more of an effort to get out and connect with people, particularly during the nice weather months.
The most important gain from this trip is a legitimatization of what I do. For the past thirteen years I have been working from home, not marketing my services as much as I ought to be for fear that I didn’t know as much I think I do and that I’d be discovered as a fraud.
During those eight and a half days in CubeLand, I emerged from behind the curtain and claimed what I know â€“ and, it is truly technical stuff. I also learned, thanks to Terry Starbucker, that it is okay to say "I’m not sure; I will ask" and that doesn’t diminish what I do know.
I am glad I had the opportunity to experience CubeLand and I am glad to be back in my lively green home office with my Chief Feline Officer by my side. My task now is to take the best of CubeLand and implement it in my work life at home.If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.