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Kathryn R. and her husband, William, share a deep commitment to the Adirondacks and enjoy the harmony among wildlife, recreation and close-knit rural communities. To help rural neighbors become familiar with computers, Kathryn and William began a non-profit corporation seven years ago that took in used computers, fixed them, trained users, and distributed them. Kathryn and William also educated others on the use of the Internet at that time. Kathryn is also able to maximize her earlier established career in nonprofit fundraising. Today, as a grant writer for a regional not-for-profit healthcare organization, Kathryn has found a way to balance her professional and personal goals. Most days Kathryn teleworks from her home in Willsboro, on Lake Champlain in the Adirondack Park, and only goes in to her office in Schenectady about once a week to connect with colleagues in staff meetings and to hold appointments with other collaborative partners. Local access to cable Internet service at home enables her to log-on to her work desktop, access all of her files and work as effectively as if she were present in Schenectady. She actually uses less gas now and feels she has a better impact on the environment in this arrangement than the round trip commute to her previous job that maintained a traditional workweek in a central office.
Kathryn observes that in an office setting, we often email or telephone people in the same building, the same floor or even the cubicle 10 feet away. For her employer, many of her co-workers’ jobs are out in the field and at health centers throughout a 12-county region. The organization requires and allows for movement by its employees, and thus fosters a culture that understands that a co-worker might not be physically present, but is still on the job. If telecommuting is not prevalent in your organization, Kathryn says it can take awhile for colleagues wanting to connect with you to feel comfortable calling you at “home.” Her advice is keep up good communication with your co-workers, vendors and clients about your work schedule, availability and commitment to projects so that you create the same rapport that you have when stationed in a traditional office setting.
Kathryn R has become forever wired in the Adirondack Park. Do you have a similar story or experience? Showcase your business or telework experience by emailing your story to ForeverWired@clarkson.edu.