The Talk

Snow rest for the weary: Working from home on a wintry day

- Last modified: February 3, 2014 at 4:48 PM

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If this looks familiar -- you worked from home today.
If this looks familiar -- you worked from home today. - (Photo By Daniel G. Moreland)

Here we go again. Another day, another snowpocalypse.

Luckily for me, Lehigh Valley Business just adopted a new online desktop system so we can work from anywhere.

While we’re still expected to have our feet under the desks at 8 a.m. most days, in the event of a nasty snow day, we’re good to go from home.

While the installation of the software has been at times glitchy as we work the bugs out of the system, when my clock radio alarm went off this morning and the traffic reporter was in the middle of a very long list of car crashes and jackknifed tractor-trailers, I took back every bad thing I said about the system over the past few weeks.

Thanks to the technology, I was able to roll out of bed and take the long commute to my first floor home office and get the daily email news out to our readers – who were also, hopefully, reading it from home.

If fact, talking to some of my contacts and contributors on Facebook, it looks like very few people made it into the office today.

I’ve found it amusing the different ways people chose to spend the snow day.

Many are working as hard as if they were in the office.

A Lehigh Valley insurance agent said she working out of her kitchen with her cats and Keuring, waiting for the accident claims that were sure to come in.

An information technology professional was working as normal, except for taking a half-hour lunch break to shovel her driveway a bit.

Others chose a combination of work/play – or work/ work – with some building snowmen during breaks from the computer – or doing their shoveling on the company dime.

With computer technology, and the greater use of the cloud in the modern workplace, working from home is easy, but there are pitfalls to watch for if you’re not used to it.

Cats on the keyboard, toddlers trying to bite you – that really happened to someone I talked to this morning – can distract you from the task at hand.

When you’re home, you don’t just make yourself lunch, you also have to throw some soup on the stove to warm up the spouse who has spent the past hour shoveling.

And without a structured environment, a “five minute break” can inadvertently turn into a “half hour nap” on the couch.

And just because you have Internet access, it doesn’t mean everyone does. You might just have to wait to get that contract signed, or the piece of equipment you ordered may not be delivered to the office until tomorrow.

These are the breaks.

And don’t forget there are distractions in the workplace as well. People burn popcorn in the microwave; customers are constantly calling; and co-workers can’t help but stopping by your desk for a little friendly gossip.

The office can be pretty distracting, too.

It’s really just about learning to adapt to a different set of distractions.

As more and more offices are able to allow workers to stay home and still do their job, maybe now is the time for more businesses to have an employee work-from-home section added to the old employee manual. Let’s make sure everyone is on the same page with what is expected of them if they’re on the couch instead of in the cubicle.

 

 

Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe covers technology and trends plus keeps you up to date on what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler and on social media. Reach her at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook and circle her on Google+.

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