We have plenty of examples of the benefits of remote working (read Seven Reasons Women Work Remotely), but the best stories are the funny or ridiculous remote work moments. Admittedly, some of these are more amusing in hindsight than they were when they happened, but here goes...
There was the time I emerged from rehearsing a speech in my upstairs office and saw something - a rodent something - scurrying down the stairs.It was a chipmunk! In the house!I saw it again on the first floor, but couldn't get it to run out of the house. In fact, I couldn't find it anywhere by the time I had to go to bed. I barricaded the stairway and tried to sleep. The next morning at 5:30 a.m., I was getting ready to leave to get to my venue early for my presentation. Wouldn't you know, the little critter darted across the front hall? I carefully set up peanut butter lures all the way out the front door and then hid, keeping very quiet. I was SO fortunate he ran to the peanut butter, looked left ... and then finally right, where the open door was, and scampered out! I didn't realize how much stress I had attached to the chipmunk's presence until I slammed the door shut behind him.
My first attempt with Skype was memorable for all the wrong reasons. I thought if I was looking at another screen on my computer and couldn't see the person I was Skype-ing with, they couldn't see me either...WRONG! I can't even imagine what my work caller could see - my expressions, yawning, who knows? Fortunately, I don't think I stood up to reveal the lovely pajama pants I was wearing, even though I looked business-like from the waist up! There's a funny YouTube video about that (Credit: Siemens UMTS).
Betsy Blagdon, a relaunched software engineer who now runs Glissade Design, her website design and production business, did all the coding for our former website. She recalls "the weird sort of charades that you have to do [directing kids] while on a business call. How to express, without sound.....
- Put down that sharp/dangerous/heavy thing!
- Get away from that dangerous/loud situation!
- Get away from your computer and drain the boiling pasta!
- Your microwave popcorn may be done, and I don't want the smoke alarms to go off!
- I can only help with this complicated/fiddly/ridiculous homework project involving glue if you are absolutely silent!"
Author Lisa Endlich (Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success, Optical Illusions: Lucent and the Crash of Telecom, Be the Change - affiliate links) recounts, "I'm doing a live radio interview on my office phone. I do not realize that my kids have been let out of school early for a snow day and that a neighbor has brought them home. My son number two, age 10, gets on the extension and says, 'Mom I am hungry and there is no food.' This is on live radio. I try to get him off the line, but he continues, 'really there is nothing to eat and they let us out before lunch was served so can we go out for pizza or something.' He continues on until I have to use a sterner tone of voice, still on live radio, to get him off the extension."
I remember when I was on LeeAnn Dance's inaugural Back in Force Blog Talk Radio Show. Meticulously organized and professional, LeeAnn had checked and double checked computer links, sound quality, everything!In her words, "My desk was cleared, my scripts were laid out, I had silenced the 'ding' my computer makes when I receive an email, I’d shut all canines and felines out of my office, and I had dialed in my host number. From my online switchboard, I could see that Carol Cohen ... my very first guest, was awaiting my mouse click to bring her 'on air.' I was READY! I was PUMPED!" Still she couldn't have predicted she would lose her Internet connection the moment her show was to begin. On my end I could only hear papers rustling, hurried footsteps, but no cursing!I was so impressed. After six excruciating minutes, LeeAnn was able to get the connection going again. She recounts the episode in amusing detail in her BackInForce blog post.
Please share your funniest remote work story.
This blog post is part of a series, “Your Office, Your Terms"– an effort designed to educate women on the benefits of working from anywhere and the technologies that help bring workplace flexibility to life. My blog can be found here.