Thursday, May 20, 2010

Telecommuter Fashion Forward: Flip Flops

Summer is officially here at StellaCommute headquarters. While we fired up the office air conditioner a couple of weeks ago, it's really kicking into gear now. With that in mind, it's time for our irregular feature on telecommuter "fashion" -- note those are not unnecessary quotation marks, because we're talking about flip flops here, people.

 What Did You Say You Bill Hourly?

For the truly discerning shut-in, these lovely numbers from Roberto Cavalli are ON SALE at Zappos for more than a grand. I kid you not. These are perfect for the telecommuter who doesn't actually need to work for money. Or who bill out at, like, $500 an hour. And really, I'm not sure what you can do at home for $500 an hour, but I'm pretty sure it involves different shoe styles than these.

My Legs are Cold, But My Toes Are Warm
These are the perfect choice for the telecommuter who suffers from chilly calves on those jaunts to the refrigerator. Or maybe you're too lazy to shave your legs every day -- wear these and keep your hirsutism to yourself. Elegant brocade plus white leather mean you can only wear these between Memorial Day and Whitsunday, though, so govern yourself accordingly.

Fringe Benefits

Buckle up, it's going to be a ticklish ride. These shoes will make you feel like you have small flies landing on the top of your feet all day. You'll get a nice workout from twitching and shaking your feet to get them off GET THEM OFF NOW AIIIIIIIEEEEE!

The Enterprise Edition

Something about these just makes me think "Trekkie" and I'm not sure why. The angular cut of the straps, the groovy 70s refrigerator/stove/wall oven color scheme, it's hard to put my finger on it exactly. Hey, they look comfortable.
Okay, at this point I just want to note that none of these shoes is less than $100. For flip flops. Am I so hopelessly out of touch with what shoes should or could cost or is that unreal? Okay, hopelessly out of touch it is! Let's continue...

Not Safe For Work (If Your Job Is Cowboy) 

Don't be fooled by the top people, these will not protect you if a horse steps on your foot whilst you try to saddle him or her. They are very sparkly, though. But bedazzling is, generally speaking, not a safety feature.

Back To Basics

All right, enough of this silliness. These are your basic flip flops, like the ones you had as a kid. They're less than twenty dollars, the straps look like they won't wear you raw, and they're perfect for staggering around your yard looking at flowers while you listen to a conference call.
So there you have it, a nice selection of extremely casual footwear. Please feel free to go to Zappos, where I found these fantastic shoe pictures, and purchase yourself a new pair of flip flops for the summer. After all, as a shut in, you don't spend nearly the money you might otherwise on clothes shoes and stuff. And please, don't call them thongs. That's something else entirely.

Monday, May 17, 2010

One Little Idea About Blogging

I have been blogging for a while, and it's fun. All six of my regular readers (hello, family members!) keep coming back, and occasionally I write something that gets people reading and talking. I think I've managed to stay pretty focused on the topic at hand, too: the exciting world of being a shut in.

You know what helps keep me focused? Tags.

I set up a group of tags that represent what I think this blog is about, and then if I can't figure out what to tag an article with, it clearly doesn't belong on the site. Pretty simple, but it really helps keep things from veering off too far into what I'm cooking for dinner, how I'm thinking about cutting my hair, or the other kinds of things that I think about and might could write about.

Focus, people.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Like I Don't Already Look Like a Corpse

This is an interesting product, a monitor top light that is designed to better light online videoconferencers. I think it has potential to make it easier to see people's expressions when doing online video, and I like the idea. Of course part of me thinks, "Nobody wants to see that!" And by "that" I mean "my face at 6 am my time". High-definition cameras for the desktop? Ai, papi, no.

But maybe this is deeply flattering light, like those old makeup mirrors they had in the 1970s where you could change the light (Office - Daytime - Home - Evening) -- the office setting was green, but the evening setting? Mood lighting straight from the best bordello.

I'm sure that the monitor light has the same settings. At least I hope so.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Seeing It and Being It

I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell's Blink and there was a ton of interesting cognitive and behavioral information in this book. A lot of it seems theoretical, but there is a practical way to apply some of this stuff. Several of the examples show how priming people with words and images sets their brains up to perform in certain ways. Like priming folks with words about old age and death makes them perform a certain way on a seemingly unrelated task, or showing people positive images of black people makes them sort words with less bias than they might otherwise.

Interesting stuff. It got me to thinking that you could prime your own self to perform well in a variety of situations by using words or images to evoke the kind of underlying psychological state that would benefit you. Like for a big presentation, look at images of people facing appreciative crowds, or top athletes crossing the finish line, or whatever. I know it sounds cheesy, but the research suggests that this kind of thing actually gets into your subconscious.

What imagery do you think we should be looking at to get us psyched up to rock out? Maybe not this.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sarbanes Telecommuting Bill Killed

The federal government is one of the biggest promoters of telecommuting, overall. Many federal agencies actively encourage telecommuting because they're based in Washington, DC and traffic is utterly hellish there. Telecommuting makes for a workforce that doesn't get caught up in snowstorms, that can continue to serve through pandemics and other disasters, and that is as efficient as you can imagine.

This is not to say that it doesn't require some effort -- you've got to equip people with laptops, administer VPNs, and get webcams and stuff. But really, it is short sighted to focus on the cost rather than the savings and benefits.

Unfortunately, the Sarbanes bill was used as an object lesson in penny wise-pound foolishness. Sigh. Maybe next time, eh?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Responsiveness Works Both Ways

Stella firmly believes in relentless responsiveness. All people can see of the telecommuter is how he or she responds to email and phonecalls. That's it - other than that you might as well not even be there. But it turns out that the flip side of that equation is also true.

All you can know about your colleagues and customers is their responses.

Seriously, that's it. And as a telecommuter it can be incredibly exasperating to feel like you're the only one talking in a conversation when the other person is unresponsive. You don't have the benefit of seeing the person rushing around the office clearly harried, sitting in a conference room all day obviously occupied, or otherwise busy-but-present.

So if you're a Real Office employee (or another telecommuter in another location) do the shut-ins in your life a favor and let them know that you received their communications. You don't need to give a full-blown answer, just a shout-out that says, "Hey, I know you exist. I'll get there! Thanks!"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Guess What? *

I work on an online thing that has security, and it includes a feature where our users store answers to questions like: What street did you grow up on? or What was your first school?

That's kind of lame.

Because frankly, anyone who knows a person fairly well (or even one who is relatively casually acquainted with a person on Facebook) could probably figure out the answer to those questions. That's why the free form question where you provide the question and the answer are so great. And these questions and answers? Epic win.

*Chicken butt.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nice Move, New Jersey

Taking a page from the crazypants tax laws of their neighbors in New York, the State of New Jersey has (incredibly) decided it can require a company who has a single telecommuting employee residing in the state to file a corporate tax return. Seriously. The tax court of New Jersey feels that one person with a laptop comprises a significant presence in their state, never mind that the bulk of this person's output (in this case, software) is not tangibly present in New Jersey.

Oy, has anyone in the NJ state office of taxation ever driven there? Do they really want to discourage people driving less and telecommuting more? I didn't think so. Hey, here's an idea: how about structuring tax laws in such a way as to not double tax telecommuters? Or eliminating the complexity and punishment clauses that make it hard for businesses to administer their telecommuting programs. That would be nice.