The daily grind for a telecommuter looks a bit different from the typical office worker’s day. Remote workers don’t have a dress code, need a parking pass, or battle other commuters on the road. Their office is their dining room. A study. A corner of their bedroom.
What’s it like to be one of our 112 remote workers? We interviewed four to get their feedback:
- Tim Cloney, vice president of Investigation Solutions, Inc. (ISI), who telecommutes from Santa Clarita, California. Tim runs the day-to-day operations of ISI, reviewing reports and SIU (special investigations unit) reviews, overseeing accounting, marketing and licensing requirements, and more.
- Audrea Smith, underwriting support associate for our Workers’ Compensation Program, processes applications and prepares them for underwriter review. She works remotely from Smyrna, Tennessee.
- Shaunna Newby, workers’ compensation claims adjuster, handles California work comp claims from her home base in Jefferson, Iowa.
- Jessica Stevens, Arrowhead’s telecom engineer, handles the voice communications system for our companies from San Antonio, Texas.
Q: Do you ever work in your PJs?
Never, all agreed.
“I tried it,” admitted Audrea, “but it was too hard to get in the full swing of the work day.”
“No PJs, but yes sometimes workout clothes,” said Shaunna.
“Barefoot and jeans,” Jessica added.
Q: How did you move into a telecommute role?
“Mine was always a telecommute role,” said Tim. “I started working in the field as an investigations manager, so I was all over the place.”
“When my husband retired from active duty Navy in 2011, I started to resign because we were moving, but then we discussed a work-from-home opportunity. I thought it was perfect for me and my family – I couldn’t turn it down,” explained Audrea.
Both Shaunna’s and Jessica’s experience was somewhat similar: “I made the decision to move back to my hometown in Iowa. When they offered to allow me to keep my job and work from home, I took it!” Shaunna said. Jessica moved from San Diego to San Antonio 10 years ago – and has been telecommuting ever since.
Q: What are the top benefits for working from home?
By unanimous consent: the easy commute. They also agreed that it’s easier to dig in, concentrate and get the work done because there are fewer distractions. The money savings was named as well: lower gasoline bills and no work wardrobe expenses.
Q: On the flip side, what are the cons to telecommuting?
Not everyone can do it, said Tim and Jessica: it takes an incredible work ethic and self-discipline to ignore the at-home distractions that pop up.
“When I have an urgent question and need an immediate answer, I can’t just run into my manager’s office for help,” Shaunna added, “but I do have amazing coworkers who are usually available by phone to help answer my questions.”
It gets lonely, they agreed. They don’t get to know their coworkers as well, they don’t hear the office water cooler gossip, and they miss out on the holiday parties.
Q: Since we’re on an office road trip, can you tell us a little bit about where you live and what we should be sure to visit?
“I’m not too far from Six Flags Magic Mountain,” said Tim. With a population of just under 200,000, Santa Clarita lies near the beginning of the Grapevine, a highway that can turn treacherous during winter storms. Ironically, it can be sunny in town while bad weather lets loose on the Grapevine. Also located along Interstate 5 and near the San Fernando fault zone, a lot of Hollywood and TV filming goes on in the area, such as TV’s “NCIS,” “Deadwood” and “10 Things I Hate About You.” Movies include “A Week in London,” “Dirty Thirty,” “Man Down” and (the highbrow thrillers not to be missed) “Sharknado” 3 and 4.
Not to be outdone, Audrea lives just 20 minutes from Nashville (“Music City”) and Opryland. With a population of 45,000, the city was once named as one of the best places to retire by U.S. News & World Report. The area is rich in Civil War history: you can visit the home of Sam Davis, a Confederate War hero who was hung for spying without giving over any information to the Yankees. Just up the interstate are acres and acres of battlegrounds, said Audrea, including the Battle of Stones River, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the war.
While Jefferson, IA, population 5,000, isn’t exactly a destination city, it IS located on U.S. Route 30, the third longest highway crisscrossing the country, totaling 3,073 miles. (For geography buffs, it starts in Atlantic City, New Jersey and ends in Astoria, Oregon.) Its small town atmosphere can’t be beat, says Shaunna. Jefferson has produced such notable folks as mixed martial artist Johnny “Hollywood” Case, George Gallup (developer of the Gallup poll), jazz saxophonist Dick Oatts and astronaut Loren Shriver.
“San Antonio just passed San Diego in terms of population,” said Jessica of her new hometown. A destination city rich in colonial heritage, San Antonio is home to the Alamo, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, a landlocked SeaWorld and the River Walk, a downtown five-mile promenade along the banks of the San Antonio River, lined with restaurants, shopping and parks – a great way to spend a full day. “My favorite hot weather pastime is floating the rivers on an inner tube - nothing beats it,” Jessica said.