FROM THE EDITOR: Working at home -- some tips
There has been quite a lot written about the workforce – thrown out of offices and suddenly required to work from home – but you haven't yet heard much from those in Inner Southeast who have been doing it for upwards of thirty years. So, your editor, who is one of those, leaps into the breach to share some tips on the subject.
Yes, THE BEE has been a home-based business since September of 2000, when your editor accepted the assignment from Pamplin Media to intensify the newspaper's mission of covering everything going on in the section of Inner Southeast Portland from Powell Boulevard south to the Clackamas County line, and from S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses west to the Willamette River. We ourselves do it all from home; and our correspondents all work from home as well, and are physically situated around Inner Southeast in such a way as to give each one a different perspective on various neighborhoods in the area.After having worked exclusively in offices for many years prior to building our home office, we learned rather quickly several things. On the positive side of the ledger, we were far more productive than in an office environment, because we could allocate our time, focus on what we were doing, and avoid interruptions!But – you may not be as productive at home as in an office, if you are not self-motivated.
There is such a thing as "high school mode" – that's when, given the chance to goof off, you find it irresistible to do so – so getting anything work-related done seems harder in the home environment. You certainly will be more productive in an office if you find you really need supervision.To succeed working from home, you must be self-motivated. And, to reinforce that attitude, we advocate dressing for business each day that you're working, and having set aside a dedicated office workspace in which to work. Dressing professionally not only tells others that you are working, and should not be disturbed – it tells you, too! And having a dedicated workspace enforces that, for everyone else at home, and for you as well.So there you are, at home in a space large enough in which you can get down to work. Do you have the tools you need? Number one is a reliable computer – and these days, that can certainly be a laptop, giving you the option of taking the office with you if need be. Computers and the Internet have made it possible, for twenty years, for THE BEE to be a home business – albeit one owned by a large company, Pamplin Media.And if you expect to be working at home more than just temporarily, you probably should have more than one dedicated computer! We have at least two others set up with the same programs, applications, and tools, ready to go immediately if something happens to our main one. And also, we constantly back up our computer, because a computer failure may be sudden and it can be permanent – sometimes caused by malware, sometimes by a hard drive giving out, and sometimes by a mysterious catastrophe of no clear origin!Our backup system is online – a service called Carbonite. It has saved THE BEE's bacon more than once and, since it backs up documents and photographs on the computer constantly and automatically, you don't have to remember to do it. If the computer dies, you can use your online backup to upload all that content onto your next computer, and let you pick up where you left off with minimal delay. If your computer crashes and takes away part of what it holds – the document file, or all the hotlinks in your browser's "favorites", or some other specific section of the data, but otherwise is okay – you can use this system to restore just the parts that were lost. (That most recently happened to us just last month!)
And, if you need something on your computer while at your company headquarters or anywhere else, you can log into Carbonite from any computer and import just what you need to the computer where you are. All this may sound like an ad, but it is simply a heartfelt endorsement! When you cannot afford to lose what's on your computer, you must have a reliable continuous backup. Find out more about this one, if interested, at – www.Carbonite.com
The essential computer peripherals, for us at THE BEE, include a high quality printer, and a photo-scanner. If you need something else for your home office, get it and install it. You need to be able to do at home what you need to, without having to go back to the office or duck down to a UPS or FedEx Store at odd hours to use something like this – especially since you may find yourself needing it outside business hours! (We get more done at night than in the daytime; that's when e-mails dwindle and interruptions stop.)
And, since you are doing your business over the Internet, you need a reliable high-speed connection. If it's as vital to you as it is to us, you may need more than one, because failures do occur – particularly with Internet service delivered over television cable. We ourselves have four Internet connections – one fiber-optic very-high-speed connection; one DSL connection (these are officially no longer sold, but we are reluctant to give ours up, since it is reliable and rock-solid) – and we also have two different wireless Internet services, which work at home, but also give us portability to take our computer elsewhere and continue working. You may not need such redundancy, but for us, no Internet means no BEE!There is much more we could share about working from home, but that's a good start, if working from home is suddenly what you have to do.And, if the idea of working from home permanently appeals to you, you might consider joining the local nonprofit business association particularly for those who freelance or work from home: The Association of Home Businesses. It has been a local fixture, meeting in Inner Southeast Portland, since 1991. We have been a member for almost that long, and have found that those who work from home are among the most interesting, intelligent, and sharing people we've met. The meetings are fun and useful. Currently it meets monthly online; when "social distancing" has ended it will resume in-person meetings at SMILE Station in Sellwood. Learn more, and RSVP for the next monthly meeting if you'd like, online – www.AHBoregon.org
And may you enjoy your time working from home!
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