Tag Archives: career

The Benefits Of Work From Home

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

With COVID-19 being an obvious issue at the news, there’s stories of campuses, businesses, etc. doing work from home, study from home, etc. This has made me think more about working from home, and I wanted to share some insight.

This has long been a part of my life – I was doing telecommuting experimentally back in 2005. Over the years I’ve seen more and more telecommuting, and the latest health crisis has made people much more interested in it.

I’d say it’s about time. Of course I live in the Bay Area which is dense, has lousy traffic, and in my experience people love to infect each other. However the latter may be due to bitter past experiences – OK it is. I’ve heard “I/my kids were sick but I/they aren’t infectious,” and then two days later I’m curled up in bed because my body is a virus theme park.

So as we find working from home (WFH) may become very vital let’s talk about the positive sides. Let’s talk the benefits so you can pitch it!

Benefit One: Realizing we can do it.

Note how I just ran to discuss why WFH is good? That’s because the tools are already there and have been for years. So first of all realize this isn’t “how can we do it,” the how is there. Trust me.

Benefit Two: Disease Mitigation

Let’s get to the obvious at this time – when more people work from home they make each other less sick. If anything, I think near-mandatory or increased WFH during disease seasons would make people’s lives much easier.

But also there’s another benefit in that people have more time to work out, exercise, etc. Healthy meals can be there in the kitchen. It’s just good in many ways.

Plus, again, disease mitigation. I mean you may get sick, but you’re not spreading it

Benefit Three: Less Traffic

Again, I’m biased because I’m in the Bay Area. It may not be as bad as people think, but once when I was moving there I was in a hotel, reading about the slowest intersection at the time, and realized it was outside my window. That was memorable.

If we get less people commuting, we get less traffic. Any geographic area could probably engineer a decrease significant enough to make WFH pay off in better commutes.

This means more time, more sanity, and less stress. Plus, it may mean less crowding on public transit which means an easier time and less disease.

(BTW, I’m for free public transport as well to really benefit a community).

Benefit Four: More Time

Obviously WFH means people have more time. But I find it’s more than you think – this goes back to my old experiences in fact.

  • Working from home usually means more is at your fingertips and you spend less time walking around, going to the cafe, or trying to find the bathroom in a giant office (been there). Your house is a time-saver.
  • Working from home reduces your routines. Check your email while you eat breakfast. Start dinner and then go back to finishing a report. Shower while numbers crunch.
  • It’s easier to timeshift as you’re near important things like your doctor or a store. You can also be there for deliveries.
  • Working from home obviously saves you commute time. I saved that for last.

Benefit Five: Better Techniques

Working from home will require you to rethink things like how you do work, how you schedule meetings and so on.

Take it from the Agile Program Guy, a lot of our plans, meeting, techniques are just there. We don’t question them. We do this “because.” Work from home is a good shake up because it asks you to do whats important in better ways.

It also asks you just what is important. Trust me, there’s probably more pointless stuff than you realize (or you don’t want to admit it).

Benefit Six: Appreciate those who can’t

If you can WFH you might find others can’t. Good. That’s going to be a way you find who else should be paid more, treated better, and otherwise respected.

It may also mean you can figure how to give them the WFH benefits eventually.

Benefit Seven: Saving money

Office space is expensive. Tech is expensive. That automated coffee machine you got that is more advanced than your laptop is expensive. Maybe you’re overdoing it.

On the other hand, having people work at home, etc. saves money. Period.

However, let’s note that money should go somewhere. The savings should be spread around, people should benefit. Maybe that always-breaking coffee maker could be ditched so people got better computers.

Also, people should be reimbursed or supported for their new expenses from work from home. Keep that in mind.

Benefit Eight: Mental health

Commuting, being stuck in the workplace, etc. can be taxing. Having more time, less commute, and so on is often good for people. It might not be good with the isolation, so let’s get too . .

Benefit Nine: Thoughtful socialization

When there’s more work from home, you also think of how to connect with your co-workers better. Being in the same place a lot can really make socialization less fun – that’s one reason I and some people I know like to make fun events. You know the real kind like “eat a lot of food.”

So iif we work from home more, we find better, new, and appropriate ways to connect with our co-workers.

So What’s Next?

Well, what’s next? Let’s home we start working from home more, using the benefits, and learning how to lead our lives differently. Disease aside, there are lots of other benefits.

Let’s also keep in mind this doesn’t sove a lot of other career issues people have, from low pay to locations with few opportunities to college debt. There are many, many other issues to solve, this just solves some.

But maybe a change helps us think about other problems and solve them.

Steven Savage

Why I Wrote It: Fan To Pro

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Ah, Fan To Pro. My attempts to give people advice on how to use their fandom in their careers. The first book I wrote — and the first book I rewrote.

Let’s ask just how it came to be, so we can share our stories of why we make books.

Fan To Pro didn’t start as a book. Or sort of did.

Fan To Pro’s origins go back to 2005 and 2006. Several friends and I kept discussing just how much talent there was in fandom. We wondered how we could support people, especially those wanting to use that in their careers. Our solutions were simple: we weren’t sure.

For a while, a friend and I considered a book, but we weren’t sure what to do. How do you take “hey, you could do this for a living” and make a book out of it? It went nowhere.

What did happen was we created a blog, now closed, called Fan To Pro (later MuseHack). This got us into blogging about careers and career news and introduced us to a range of similar people.

At the same time, I called upon my nascent coaching skills and began presenting about careers at conventions. I spoke on general career advice and brainstorming, and the act of speaking helped me mine my knowledge. This was around 2007-2009, after over a decade in my career, and I had a lot to share.

I also was always working on improving myself. I’d go to professional meetups, get training, and read books. I got exposed to the world of coaching and career books, and that led to a realization.

Why not share my geeky career advice from my point of view. Take what I’d learned and seen over the years and collate it into a book. I already had plenty of presentations and experience, after all.

This was an important lesson. I hadn’t realized what I knew or what I could share until I’d tried. Sometimes we don’t know what we know until we share it.

All my friends and family were supportive, so I got down and wrote my book. Also, they were kind of surprised it took me that long to realize my skills.

The first Fan To Pro was kind of mediocre. I mean, there was good advice, but it had an awful cover, some odd formatting, and there were a few things I missed. But I did get the book done, and I had a starting point.

There are some things where you have to do something and move on to see where you are.

But I wasn’t done. After a few years, I realized I had learned a lot, and it was time to rewrite the book. I sat down, got a professional artist, and revised the heck out of it.

The results were much better. I’m proud I wrote the first book, but I’m proud of the second book. I improved the style, added more information, shared my lessons, and organized it better. It was a far better book.

It also felt like I’d “gotten it all out.” I had shared more lessons, gone into more depth, and connected better with the audience. The book feels complete

Will I ever rewrite it again? I don’t know. I wrote it at a time in my life where it feels like a “got” the big picture. As my career continues, as I age, as the economy changes, I worry my more recent experiences are less applicable. Bluntly, I’d be afraid to screw it up.

But who knows – I never thought I’d do a book at one point in my life . . .

Steven Savage

Can You Be A Professional Writer?

(This is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Yes, you can be a professional writer.

Every now and then I have a discussion with someone who wants to be a professional writer. I’ve decided to compile my advice to help clarify it, and of course, make it easier for people that ask me that question.

Where does this come from – since my writing is more of a side thing? It comes from:

  • Knowing professional writers.
  • Knowing people wanting to be professional writers.
  • Researching writing careers – I had considered a change I didn’t make.
  • My own experience in writing and researching it.

So let’s go!

CAN I BE A PROFESSIONAL WRITER?

Yes, you can.

WAIT, THAT SEEMED EASY

Yes, because there are many, many ways to make a living at writing. The question is more “which path as a professional writer fits you.” Most people miss the kind of obvious ones.

OK, WHAT’S THE OBVIOUS ONE?

The obvious writing career is writing professionally in areas like being a Technical Writer, develop Marketing content on websites, and so on. There’s a huge variety of them out there – and I keep finding more over time.

Then there’s writer-adjacent jobs like Editor, etc.

If you do a look on any job site and search for things like Writing, Writer, Editor, Publishing, etc. you can find quite a few ideas.

OH. SO IT’S WRITING “JOBS” LITERALLY?

Yeah, exactly. There’s lots of them out there. If you don’t want to do corporate stuff, you can find them in government, education, non-profits, etc. Just keep digging.

Again, these are jobs basically with “lots of writing.” So, you can make a living at it – some people do very well.

NICE. SO LET’S TALK THE CLASSIC “I WRITE BOOKS FOR A LIVING” JOB?

A lot of people think writing careers are just “I write books.” They’re not. In my experience a lot more people do “writing jobs” to use their writing skills. In fact, those are great jobs to do to prime yourself or support yourself on a writing career.

Now as for the whole “Write Books For A Living” type job, basically as a kind of freelancer, yes it can be done. It’s just very challenging and too many people miss the amount of effort it takes or how long it takes.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

A lot of successful authors, those with the big hit book or series that pays the bills, didn’t just suddenly become a success overnight. They laid a foundation, often for years.

Even if you do create a sudden mega-hit, the lead up to it will take years, if only to write the thing and make contacts.

SO HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?

Based on what I’ve seen, if you decide to become an author that makes a living writing books, it can take years if you’re also holding down a full-time job. A decade is not out of the question.

It’s probably a lot faster if you can dedicate yourself full-time.

There’s plenty of books out there on authors. Chris Fox’s books are the ones everyone recommends (and even he doesn’t make all his money with books, but he sees to be having a blast)

SO I NEED TO WRITE FOR TEN YEARS?

No, not just writing. Writing is part of a writing career. You need to:

  • Write books.
  • Get books edited, get covers done, etc.
  • Get them published in a format people will buy.
  • Market them.
  • Market yourself with websites, newsletters, etc.
  • Set up ads.
  • Constantly improve your craft.

You can see how the more time you have the more chance you can pull it off.

SO IT’S A SMALL BUSINESS?

Pretty much. If you land a publishing deal that helps, but even then expect a lot of work (and contracts). But yeah, you’re running your own business – and even if you swing some sweet deals it’ll still be like that.

But hey, you get tax writeoffs and such if you do it write.

BUT AT LEAST I CAN WRITE WHAT I WANT

Maybe, maybe not. The thing with people who make a living writing, independently, is they seem to find a market, build a market, or target a market. If you just want to do “whatever” then the chance of succeeding is very low.

I’M GOING TO NEED TO THINK IT OVER, AREN’T I?

Yes. If you have a specific vision for your writing, then you need to do good marketing and try to find your audience.

On the other hand if you’re open to “writing whatever sells” then it’s probably more likely you can succeed. You’re going to compete with other people doing the same thing, but there are many “same things” to try.

LET’S SAY I DECIDE TO INVESTIGATE THE MARKETS, WHAT DO I DO?

Well, the Fox books are good. You can often find lots of advice online online and books on Amazon. There’s honestly so many you’ll probably want to search for reliable sources yourself.

Then you want to write like crazy.

ANY OTHER ADVICE?

Do your research, stick with it, and connect with as many authors as possible to learn.

Steven Savage