working out loud

Out of My Cage for Personal and Professional Growth

f2fI love working from home. Yes, it has taken some time to figure out and define boundaries with the other occupants of my “office,” especially the three shorter ones, but I’ve gotten better at shutting doors and using my noise-canceling headphones without feeling cold or neglectful. And, of course, you can’t beat the dress code.

That being said, I’ve discovered that while I often feel more productive at home than in the “real” office, there are times I miss the face-to-face interactions that being in a traditional office affords. My work teams have been doing much more video conferencing via Google Hangouts, but it’s not quite the same.

I usually visit the home office in Berkeley, CA once a month and enjoy reconnecting with people and the spontaneous collaborations and information sharing that only happens when you’re physically occupying the same space. Plus, where I work, we actually like each other, so the social interactions—work and personal—are rejuvenating. After these visits I return home recharged and ready to get back to knocking out projects and tasks in productive [relative] solitude.

Another important opportunity for human interaction in my work are the events where teachers from our network convene to share their own work: their classroom/Writing Project site experiences, struggles, and successes. I’m on my way to one such event now—somewhere in the air over northern CA, headed to Seattle—where teachers from around the country are meeting to share how they’ve designed and implemented online learning environments.

From my home command center I monitor emails, publications, Twitter feeds, and Facebook/Google+ timelines to inform my own work and to keep a pulse of what’s happening around our network, and to help share at least a fraction of the copious amounts of information, events, and resources through our national channels. But again, there’s something about being in the same room for an extended period of time, engaged in listening and conversation, for deeper understanding and stronger personal connections. I’ve developed close working relationships with many people solely through online interactions, but having at least one face-to-face interaction is always beneficial to my work and even to my general wellbeing as a human.

When locked in my cage (how I often jokingly refer to my home office), yes, I get a lot of tangible work done—and have the time and space to troubleshoot and problem solve—but I need opportunities to see and hear people in the same room. I think the more ways we’re connected, digitally and in person, the more we benefit, learn, and grow from shared experience and knowledge. Yes, I have to ditch the shorts and baseball hat when I join the real world to engage in these face-to-face opportunities, but it’s well worth it.