The roaming office: Don’t be *that* remote worker

Thu, Mar 14, 2024 3-minute read

I probably (most definitely) sound like an old man yelling at a cloud, but if your work consists of many online meetings, try to plan so you have a stable internet connection and quiet surroundings during the meetings.

There are exceptions. You’re absolved if you often travel for work and spend most of your time on the road by design! It’s totally fine if you’re heading for a conference or a client/stakeholder meeting, and the only way to unblock the others is by tuning in from a busy train or café.

I have a bone to pick with the other group. The ones who forgot they’re conducting business meetings, so they treat them like Facetime with friends.

I’m writing this to raise awareness. I know it’s easy to lull yourself into thinking it’s okay to do what you’re doing. You were doing some chores one day and wouldn’t make it home in time. So, you did one meeting from the road. No one said anything, so you did another the next Wednesday. Fast-forward a few weeks, and you’re running a two-hour workshop from a busy bar.

OK, I’m also writing this to vent a bit, but raising awareness is a big part of the reason. I promise! At this point, I’ve really seen a lot since 2020.

  • I did (well, tried to do) a job interview with a candidate who couldn’t hear me properly because they were in a park surrounded by a bunch of people
  • I sat through a meeting where a person tried to share their screen who knows how and do a presentation while walking
  • I had a meeting with someone who was on a beach, with people playing volleyball in the background

I support giving people as much flexibility as possible while doing the work. I’m trying to get across the point that we shouldn’t forget there’s a line between work and play, and that line should be a bit clearer when one’s actions impact other people’s time.

If you plan to work from a place other than your home, coworking space, or any other space where you have proper working conditions, make sure in advance to ensure:

  • The Internet connection is stable enough for the type of work you’re doing (people usually don’t ask that; they just see that the hotel/motel has a working connection and then realize it’s not sufficient after the fact)
  • The place you’ll be working from is quiet, and you can have a private space if needed, depending on the nature of your work
  • You will not be disturbed or must leave/change the space during the meetings

If you work in a place that’s supportive of remote work and flexible about how and when you work, don’t take it for granted. Don’t be that person because of whom we all can’t have nice things.