From Far Away Places

I have spent the past 11 years working for a widely dispersed company – one where a good part of the work force worked from home or out of offices located across the country. I am used to not seeing the people I work with. In fact, I never met some of the people that I worked with regularly. It was simply how work was done. However in spite of that, I worked in the home office, and had an opportunity to stay plugged in at all times.

My new company is very different in many ways from my old one – and dispersment of the workforce (or rather lack of it) is one of the main differences that I see. The company I work for is in Austin, Texas. I live in Plano, about 3 ½ hours north of there. All of the other employees live in Austin. They all show up at the office every day. They are on kickball, dodgeball, soccer and softball teams together. They are friends. They work closely and are together all of the time. While this didn’t seem like a huge issue when deciding to take the job, it is now weighing fairly heavily on me.

The agreement when hired was that I would remain in Plano, spending time with one of our customers here, traveling to Austin one or two days a week. This seemed like an easy thing to manage – and it still may be. However the real issue is that I feel disjointed, separated, not plugged in – when I am not there. I feel like I am missing some special bond or experience – like an outsider – and like I am not giving as much as the people there.

I work smart. I work hard. I don't slack at home - yet I don't feel as though I am as valuable here. I know that they would like me in Austin more, however I cannot be away that much from my family and not feel like I am missing my kids growing up, missing time with my husband. I am not in a position to move to Austin right now, especially with Brittany still in high school. So what options do I have to balance this out and feel like we are all getting the best out of me?

How about you? Do you work in a company where you are not with the main work force, and if so, how do you manage it? How do you stay plugged in and attentive while not being in the middle of it all? And how do you feel as valuable as you would if you were there all the time?