#working from home

  • Work Etiquette versus Moral Integrity – A discussion!

    When your morals, and that displayed at your place of employment differ significantly you may find yourself in a dilemma that will make you look at things a little differently!

    I have always, gone with my gut when choosing my clients for the most part.  Even if I am desperately needing a new project, if one comes along that just doesn’t seem right I turn it down.

    I took on a project once that involved dealing with people who had moral standards that I questioned on a regular basis.  I did not know that this would be the case before I accepted the project.

    The company came along highly recommended by the leaving contractor, as did the company team members that I would be working with.  The reason that the contractor was leaving was because of family obligations they did not allow enough time for the time the project was taking…I found this out to be not true.  That aside, I found a lot that I was told about the team and other contractors to be untrue as well.

    I cannot say I am the most moral person in the world. I must definitely have faults.  I do not go to church, and I have lied to people in the past and sometimes I have bad thoughts.  However, I have always felt that I have a level of professionalism that has worked well for myself and for my clients.  When I was a much younger person I worked as a “gopher” at a local newspaper.  As a gopher, you are the one person that gets yelled at if you do not show up with the right copy before deadline or for anything else that is late.  I learnt very quickly, that you do not take anything personally on deadline day at a newspaper!  The following day, everyone that yelled at me would come and tell me that they really appreciated my hard work.  I have took those feelings with me and know for the most part that anything negative that anyone says to you at work is not personal and is probably coming from their own insecurities, challenges and stress of the day.  Letting them get to you brings you one step closer to being them.  

    Work and personal morals are extraordinarily different.

    Stress, deadlines, challenges, money, targets, failure, unorganized….are all things that cause people in a work scenario to become insecure, angry and then unprofessional.  Your personal morals, a lot of the time, are what help you handle situations professionally.

    I recently read a great article/report by Susan Scheller Arsht..”This is how work life should be”:  Quality Connections, Positive Relationships, and Positive Organization Climate.  If you are experiencing challenges in the work place environment, reading this report would benefit you greatly.  To me the title says it all…and the key words are “POSITIVE” and “QUALITY”. 

    Wikipedia definition —- “Work etiquette is a code that governs the expectations of social behavior in a workplace.  This code is put in place to enable people to respect and protect time, people and processes”.


    In the world of telecommuting things are quite a bit different.  

    Telecommuting creates its own list of challenges when it comes to work etiquette.  It can be tough to read into what people are saying at the end of phone or video call.  They could be saying one thing and actually mean something completely different.  Sadly the same goes for you too…if you are the contractor you sometimes have to pick your words carefully.  Your client may not always be wanting to hear the truth and you may not be willing to disclose it.

    Investing in the product, the company, the people…

    Telecommuting can also create what I call “false” friendships.  If you have never met someone that you are working with there can sometimes be no real investment in the working relationship.  This is particularly true if you have no common interests.  I have learnt that it is a good idea to get invested in the company you are contracting for.  Use their products if possible in a personal landscape, and learn to embrace their dynamic.  Those team members that you do have personal similarities with are slightly different, as you take a step forward with them and become more than just being work colleagues.  I am still in contact with some of the friends I made through working on projects, mainly because I met with them in their office on a regular basis and had common hobbies and interests.  The others have sadly, quietly disappeared from my LinkedIn news feed.  

    The point of today’s blog is to discuss what you should do when you are already working on a project, and find that your clients moral standard and professional etiquette differs drastically to your own.

    1.  You can quit!  Walk away and not have to deal with it.
    2.  You continue to work on the project whilst suggesting alternatives to the different standards/rules that seem to be set.
    3.  You continue to work and suck it up and deal with it.

    Firstly, I am not a quitter.  Once I took the project I on, I did level 3 for quite a while, and then just couldn’t do it any more.  My name was going on the bottom of emails that I didn’t agree with, that I felt were just rude and unprofessional.  I moved up to level two, my ideas for changing the way things were done were listened too (I believe) and then were ignored and if not ignored were sometimes described as silly (I am using a polite word here). My frustration for not being taken seriously was increasing but I remained the professional and calmly just did as I was asked.

    Finally level 1…I am no longer working on the project.  It started off with basic things that really did not feel right in my gut, like not responding to emails if the company did not want to work with someone who had approached them, to one of the partners screaming at me over a conference call for an error that he had created.  Honestly, not responding to the emails never felt right to me..both morally speaking and that it was bad business sense.  You never know if in the future that person may be working at a company that you do want to do business with.…and I mean how much time does it take to send a quick message back.  The screaming session was the final straw that broke the donkeys back!  There was a lot that happened in between these two examples but I wanted to describe how not following good work etiquette can cause a “this doesn’t feel right” situation to a “I need out situation”.

    This is probably a burnt bridge…as I would never want to work with any of the staff/contractors at that company again, but generally speaking burning bridges just does not work for me…yes sometimes those bridges fall into dis-repair because you do not maintain them…but never should you take a flame thrower and burn it to the ground.  Even when the business owner, has been totally disrespectful, and downright rude to you, never burn that bridge.  His assistant might remember your level of professionalism and contact you at a later date from a different company.

    The not responding to emails, was just the beginning of what I now consider to be a life lesson. Sadly, you may not know at the onset of a project that it is not going to work out, but speak out when you see things going array!   

    Lets get back to that word…POSITIVE!  I will say that this has been the only project that I have found myself wanting to jump and run.  Everyone else that I have worked with in the past have for the most part, been professional, morally upright people.  My friends say that I am the forever optimist and that I always view life and work with a positive outlook.  I always look for the silver lining, I always find something positive and I always learn something new from every challenge that life puts in front of me.  

    What did I learn?

    1. Go with what I feel is right, and let your client know if what you are being asked to do falls outside of the ballpark for you.
    2. I choose to only work with companies and individuals that have a moral levels that meet or exceed both my personal moral standards, and the standards I have set for myself within a working environment, both virtually and physically in an office.
    3. Finally, never suck it up and deal with it…

    So, go forth and work hard, earn great respect and money and conquer the world!

    I hope you enjoyed reading my blog and welcome your comments!  Please follow the blog and share with your colleagues if you think it will benefit them.



  • Budget Friendly Website Design

    Focus, Dedication and “Pulling up your Socks”

    20 years of working at home has its pros and cons!

    I have spent the last 20 years working from home.  It has been an interesting journey of which I am finally beginning to understand.

    Having a home office was a great alternative to lots of challenges. These included dragging myself into the shower each morning. The long trek into the office was a two minute walk.  The daily challenge of dealing with annoying people.

    The fact is, I never minded working in an office. 

    I enjoyed the camaraderie, the brain storming, and ability to talk face to face with someone.  It is very difficult to pick up a persons body language and gestures via email. Even video conferencing has many problems. I had lost a big advantage. 

    The drive to work each day allowed me to prepare myself mentally for work. It also allowed me decompress for home life with my kids.  The drive allowed me to do a check list of things I knew I needed to get done. My attention to detail and focus is always better in the morning.  My drive home allowed me to remove the stress of work and to be a good parent for my daughter. 

    Being a single parent, in a place where I did not have any family close, was tough.  Covering the cost of day care for a 9 year old as a single parent was a challenge.  School only covers part of that time that you are at work. There is a limit that you can rely on friends. I was lucky though to have friends close by who watched my daughter whilst I was teaching at night. 

    Contracting jobs starting to become available to me…

    I managed to pick up a few contracting jobs through teaching. I appreciated that contracting paid higher rates than being an employee. It also gave the unique benefit of being able to manage my time around my daughters school schedule.  Disadvantages of course, were having to manage your taxes, and no medical insurance. 

    When I was reaching the point of earning 130% of what I was taking home as an employee, I took the plunge and quit my job.  At first it was a joyful time!  Working in your pj’s is awesome! Coffee breaks whenever I felt the need was beneficial. No wasted time sat in a car and spending hard earned money on gas. Finally being with my daughter whenever she needed. These were all wonderful things!

    I had three or four regular clients.  I was still teaching because it was a great source of new clients.

    But as time went by…I became complacent – I had enough to pay the bills and I was happy.  To be honest, I am not a greedy person when it comes to money…it has never been something that drives me to the next step.  Even as a Sales Director, it was always the closing of the deal that drove me.  In Sales you are always measured by hitting your sales target. My need for closing deals was always enough for the me to over achieve in selling anything.

    I have found it hard to replace the hunger I had for closing the deal. Getting a new client was feeding that hunger enough when I was working on my own.  The appreciation from my daughter, having me at home all the time was the icing on the cake.

    Complacency as a contractor is not an option.

    Please learn from my mistake.  Without any notice I lost two of my main clients who made up 85% of my income and I began to struggle.  I did not lose the clients through anything I did, they both decided to choose at the same time to take my role in house.  They were in Utah and New York, so that commute was not an option from Colorado.  But the severe loss makes you question yourself and check and double check if you did anything wrong.

    Luckily, not long after this happened, the guy I had been dating for a while suggested we move into together. My struggle continued but not from a money perspective.  I struggled to find some more clients to work with. I had stopped teaching and did not have that “lead rich” environment anymore.  You know the old saying, its easier to find a job when you have a job, applied here.  I found a couple of new clients and the stress lessened.

    So, I got married, had another child (a son who now stands a foot taller than I at 16 years old) and have moved states.  Clients have come and gone over the years. I am still working with a couple of clients that I worked with when I took the plunge into contracting.  As we all know keeping  a client versus looking for new ones is way easier. I have always applied the knowledge that customer service is a high priority. 

    But once again I admit, I took my eye off the goal, lost a big client and was almost at the point of wallowing in self pity!  I had not learned from the mistake of the past.  It is hard as an independent contractor to keep many clients “on the boil”. There isn’t enough time in the day. This is a challenge you have to overcome. Never let a client take more than 50% of your time…better to have 4 clients at 25% of your time.  I did not follow the golden rule. This one client was taking up 75% of my time, was a dependable payer and I was in my comfort zone again with the work I was doing.  

    Now, today, I think my eyes have finally been opened.  

    In the past I had not focused. In fact I had been “strolling” along in the world and it was time that I started to get serious. I needed to “pull up my socks” as my Dad would say.  

    In the last 6 months or so I have started to communicate. I have started to focus. My son is no longer in need of his mom being around all the time. I now have the time to dedicate to my business. I can develop more fruitful professional relationships.

    So yes, I still work in my pj’s far too many times. I still get coffee far too much each day. But I am focused on making things work. To growing my client base, and finally beginning to learn what type of person I want to be.