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Op/Ed

When is it time to stop working from home?

(EDITORIAL) Working from home is not for everyone. It might be time to assess your own productivity and goals in knowing whether you should get an off-site office or work from home.

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work habits

Working from home has its benefits. As a writer who works from my own room, I do not miss the commute, traffic, or dealing with people. I will say that it does get lonely, and there are times when I wish I had an adult around, but mostly, it’s rather enjoyable. I’ve often thought about co-working spaces when I travel to visit my daughter, but I’ve never taken the plunge. Maybe next time I can check it out and report back.

It did get me thinking about how to tell when it is time to stop working from home. Here’s what I came up with:

Are you ready to leave the nest?

1. You don’t have an office space that can be dedicated to work. Maybe the room you used is now the nursery or you had a friend move in.

2. You can’t set boundaries. During the summer, when you have kids home, if you’re unable to get anything done because they won’t respect your time, it might be time to find a co-working space.

3. If you’re spending more time binging on Netflix than producing an income, you don’t need to be working at home. One of the most important things when working from home is self-motivation.

4. You’ve got staff coming to your home. Do you really want to be responsible for accidents or injuries on the job while they’re in your home? It could get very difficult with your home owners insurance and workman’s comp.

5. If you’re getting too much traffic for your business at home, you might want to invest in an office. You will need to consider the regulations of your community to know whether you should consider an office. Success is a good reason to move.

Everyone is different, so you just have to look at your own productivity and goals in knowing whether you should get an off-site office or work from home.

I don’t think there’s any shame in not being able to do it. Working from home is not for everyone. I’m pretty fortunate to be fairly disciplined and get the work done. I live with my adult daughter and her husband, and they’re good about letting me work. It is easy to get distracted, but I enjoy working from home. Maybe someday, I will get an office. Right now, I enjoy that I don’t have to wear shoes when I work.

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Dawn Brotherton is a staff writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

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Op/Ed

Some truths the IDX companies don’t want you to know

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Back in the dark ages of, maybe three years ago, IDX on an agent’s website was a hot topic. The web designers and gurus told us that the number one reason anyone would come to our website was to search for homes to buy. If we did not have an IDX feed on our website, we were toast. The buyers would pass us by in favor of our competitors offering IDX and free ice cream cones.

Here is the problem. There is no way that I, as an individual agent, can offer the consumer a better internet home search experience than the Big Boys of Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and others.

So, while it is true the internet home shopper is searching for homes for sale, it is not true that they are coming to my website to find great homes for sale.

This is something most website vendors do not want you to know.

Something else they don’t want you to know

NAR released their 2014 Home Buyer and Home Seller Study, and one chart shows how the homebuyers found their agent. Guess what? Only nine percent found their agent from an internet website. This includes the leads generated by the Big Boys

So what paltry amount of buyers found their agent from finding and searching on an individual agent’s site? I’ll tell you- statistically negligent. Not enough to measure.

2014 nar home buyer and seller survey

Are there great success stories of agents who generate real business from their website? Sure – but they are the rare exception, not the rule.

Is there a place for IDX on your website?

Sure. I use it to tell a more complete story of my neighborhoods. I use it to generate fun curated lists of low priced homes or city view homes or homes open that weekend. I use so I can legally squeal like a fan girl over a gorgeous mid century modern, even though it is not my listing.

I use IDX to illustrate my local expertise and knowledge, not as a lead generation machine. After all, Zillow will never compete with me on the special nuances of Glendale. Zillow doesn’t live here, I do.

One more thing the “gurus” don’t want you to know

In 2013, 68% of all buyers surveyed found the agent they used via some kind of face to face, in-person contact. In fact, some form of physical, real time contact is, by far, the most effective business tool we have.

Fancy that. The most effective lead generation tool around is talking to people. IDX? Not so much.

This editorial was first published here in April 2016.

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Op/Ed

The real reason women are overlooked? Leadership is seen as masculine

(EDITORIAL) We can tell women to “lean in,” or we can address what researchers point to as the real challenge – leadership is still seen as a masculine trait.

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leadership

Researcher Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic recently rejected the popular advice of “leaning in” for women* looking to scale the professional ladder. It’s not that women are unconsciously holding themselves back from leadership opportunities, as Sheryl Sandburg so famously theorized in her TED talk and subsequent book.

But, this advice only works for women aren’t actively pursuing higher roles and greater responsibilities.

The reality is more that even when women are advocating for themselves, they are less likely to be seen as having the qualities of a leader. This widespread gender bias isn’t news: Pantene and some partners even released a feel-good commercial that capitalized on calling out how assertive women are “bossy” and borderline competent men are seen as “the boss.”

As Chamorro-Premuzic explains, the fact that our culture has so closely adhered to the belief that these characteristics are “masculine” is more likely what holds high-performing women back. Even if they are better than their competition, even other women will often not evaluate them fairly because of how they have internalized our culture’s apparent blindness to women’s ability to be “the boss.”

But then, even some masculine-identifying or preforming people who are inferior in their technical skills could be afforded afforded many professional benefits because of the implicit bias we carry into business spaces that favors “masculine” traits. For example, “male-performing” assertive people may get credit for a quieter colleague’s work.

Where Chamorro-Premuzic’s editorial gets really interesting is when they reject the idea that women and other minorities need to over-compensate for their marginalization and try to join the good ol’ boys club.

He explains, “If our solution is to train women to emulate the behavior of men… we may end up increasing the representation of women in leadership without increasing the quality of our leaders. In this scenario, women will have to out-male males in order to advance in an inherently flawed system where bad guys (and gals) win. Unless our goal is to make it easier for incompetent women to succeed – much as it is for men – there is little to gain from this approach.”

As I’ve said before: Being a leader is a gender-neutral act, (spoiler: so are all actions!); the sooner that we can accept that coding behavior as “masculine” or “feminine” only serves to obscure people’s actual contributions, the better.

Removing these archaic labels allows the real competencies of professionals to be evaluated — for their benefit, and their organization’s benefit.

For now, organizations that make conscious efforts to level the playing field (like the National Association of Realtors’ restructure leading to half of their leadership team being women) are the primary answer as our culture shifts to a more aware environment.

*Though the referenced article and study perpetuate a binary gender structure, for the purposes of our discussion in this article, I expand its “diversity” to include femme-identified individuals, nonbinary and trans workers, and anybody else that does not benefit from traditional notions of power that place cisgendered men at the top of the social totem pole

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Op/Ed

The wealthy are miserable in their careers

(EDITORIAL) A lengthy New York Times piece outlines how America’s most elite workers are beyond miserable in their jobs, but it’s so needless – here’s why.

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wealthy are miserable and should find fulfillment at work

The wealthy elite are miserable at work, or so the New York Times alleges in “The Future of Work: Wealthy, Successful, and Miserable.” My knee-jerk reaction was “boo hoo.” Of course you’ll be miserable if you only work for yourself, a lesson that should have been easily learned and fixed in your 20’s.

The NYT’s example was a wealthy investment banker who earned 1.2 million last year. It’s extremely hard to find pity for someone who earned that much in a thankless job. And the article was less about the future of work and more about how to find job satisfaction. However, everyone should understand that in order to be happy in a job, you must do something that fulfills you.

Fulfillment comes in a variety of forms. It is fulfilling to help others, while working with colleagues you respect.

Sometimes the job description itself doesn’t lead to fulfillment but the way you work does. For example, I worked for two years as a personal injury paralegal helping car accident victims. If that doesn’t make you cringe, this will. I managed well over 100 cases, a very demanding case load, and was also the Office Manager. Tragedy literally walked into the door and called every day. I adored the job – it was hands down the best I’d ever had. Why? It was intense, varied, and immensely fulfilling because I made a difference every day.

I helped people get their life back and fought against big insurance companies who were screwing people out of their deserved recovery. As a victim of a no-fault car accident myself four years ago, I was on a crusade and loved it.

The reasons I left were a complicated mix of work/life balance issues, but primarily because my husband became deathly ill unexpectedly and I chose him and his life over the job I loved. And I don’t regret it – although I still miss that job that had changed my life for the better (despite being underpaid).

In addition to doing something I believed in, part of what made the job great was autonomy, something the NYT article alludes to.

Autonomy to do the job the way you see fit is a precious thing. But it’s also about finding purpose within yourself to do the job.

I was able to bring a sense of purpose to the job description, something everyone should be doing. It’s more about finding your “why,” your reason for being there every day.

And your “why” must be about more than earning a paycheck. No matter how large it is.

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