About five years ago, my husband Sandy learned his company, an insurance giant based in New York City, was undergoing a real estate consolidation. No longer would he have a cubicle to call his own. Instead, he would share it with a colleague assigned to the space. They would work out a schedule so on the days my husband was in the office, his office-mate would work from home. And vice versa.
As a work-from-home parent with young children, it sounded like good news to me. Now I had an on-site child-care backup when clients wanted to meet at 3 pm, the precise hour I needed to be at the school bus stop.
My husband, who had already moved nearly a dozen times within his firm’s multiple buildings in the Wall Street area during his 20 year tenure with the company, was less than enthused. “I like getting dressed, going into an office and interacting with people,” he said. “Who’s going to take things seriously wearing shorts and working from home?”
Fast forward to the present (more on the intervening years in future posts) and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Undoubtedly the same goes for his company.
When Hurricane Sandy roared through New York City in October 2012 (the storm, not my spouse), forcing closure of the firm’s downtown offices indefinitely, the company already had an infrastructure of alternate office space in place. It was a much different picture when the offices were closed for months after the 9/11 attack. Back in 2001, Sandy had a two-hour drive to his company’s New Jersey offices. In 2012, he just logged on from his desk in our Brooklyn home. Seamless.
So while many wouldn’t say “insurance company” and “trendsetter” in the same breadth, clearly my husband’s company is at the forefront of a movement that will only continue to gain traction over time.
New York City readers: how did Hurricane Sandy affect your work life? Has your company made any policy changes since then? Leave a comment and let me know.
Untethered is a curated collection of news, trends and thoughts about remote working enabled by technology by Carolyn Cirillo, an LA-born, Brooklyn-based design writer, researcher and marketing strategist.
Banner photograph by Timothy Krause.