A True Work From Home Moment

Today I had the most epic “the chaos of working from home” moment of this entire pandemic.

Before you can appreciate the chaos of the experience, let’s take minute to envision my typical day working from home. I have office space in our spare bedroom, while Ian retreats to his own man-cave office for the workday. Benji interrupts me frequently, particularly during school days, but also I often get 30- to 90-minute stretches of uninterrupted time when I can focus.

During those stretches, I really appreciate the superiority of my home office compared with my cubicle at work. Most of all, when nobody interrupts me, I work in a fairly quiet environment, not hearing constant distracting background conversations nearly as much as in the office. I play music on speakers, sparing my ears the experience of eight hours of earbuds. Continue Reading >>

Layoffs Get Me Thinking

Throughout the entire pandemic, executives from the CEO on down to my boss have assured us that they planned no layoffs for our company. Our clients are advisory firms that mostly charge based on assets under management (AUM). Although millions of people are experiencing desperate financial straits, the fortunate tiny percentage of people who have investment accounts have (after a not-unexpected plummet early in the pandemic) enjoyed shockingly good market returns, which means their assets have grown — and, accordingly, so have their AUM-based advisory fees. When financial advisors make money, they can pay the annual subscription cost for my company’s software. Which all means that I get to keep exchanging my writing ability for a steady paycheck. Continue Reading >>

Work From Home Adaptation: Availability Indicators

While we’re all at home, we each retreat to our own rooms during working or school hours. (Quick aside: Boy am I thankful that we bought a four-bedroom house, giving me and Ian each our own private offices.) Of course we close the door when we need to be left alone. But it’s hard to tell what the closed door means. Is the person in a meeting that can’t be interrupted? Does he just need to focus, but a quick question would be okay? Benji in particular has a hard time not coming in talking, and I’ve had at least a few times of slightly embarrassing un-muted incidents where colleagues have been treated to family conversations. Continue Reading >>

Technical Writing Video

Let’s skip to the fun stuff. Here’s a video of me explaining technical writing to an eight-grade audience:

Now some backstory.

Back at the beginning of the summer, a former AmeriCorps member posted on Facebook asking for people to make videos to explain their careers to eighth graders. These videos replace an in-person career fair that, like everything else, has gone entirely online this year.

I volunteered to provide a video about technical writing, if she wanted one on a topic that boring; she accepted (desperate times, I guess) and sent me the information. I didn’t have time to really get started on it for a while, although pretty early on I roped in a very generous e-learning colleague to do the video editing. Continue Reading >>

Public Accolades

Yesterday I had a conversation with my boss that’s still bothering me. In it, I mentioned that I had some pages I felt very proud of going out in today’s release. My enthusiasm for my pages made me realize I hadn’t connected with other team members about what they were working on for months. As I thought about it more, I realized that with the current work from home situation, I don’t have the everyday encounters that give a sense of what other people on my team are doing when it doesn’t directly impact my work. So I suggested to my boss that we offer an opportunity for our team to showcase projects they’ve worked on recently that they’re particularly proud of, possibly in our standing team meetings.  Continue Reading >>

Pandemic in Pictures: Still at Home

Working from Home
Working from home.

I don’t want to minimize the challenges of staying home — those remain. But, looking on the bright side, I’ve been able to take advantage of the occasional nice weather by working outside a bit. It lets me keep Benji company while getting a little bit of work done.

Laundry Line
Taking advantage of sunny weather.

I also took advantage of the sunny, breezy weather and being home all day to hang our sheets out to dry in the back yard. I love the sunshiny smell and feel of sheets hung to dry.

Ian Gets a New Job

In this installment of “Change is hard but healthy,” I present Exhibit 1: After 10.5 years at his current job, Ian landed an exciting new job at a company he’s had his eye on for a long time: ArenaNet, the company behind GuildWars and GuildWars 2. Who knew that the 2,000 hours of GuildWars gameplay he put in would turn into a coverletter selling point?!

This caps about a month of extra stress and anxiety as he worked his way through the many hoops of the interview process. At the beginning of the process, the recruiter laid out the different steps where, essentially, Ian could be eliminated. As he passed each one, Ian would comment, “That’s one hurdle done.” Each one brought him one step closer to the job, until finally he received an offer, accepted, and cleared the last hurdle: turning in his resignation letter and telling his current boss he was leaving. Continue Reading >>