A different view of the remote workspace
Everyone in v-Fluence works remotely. Some of us, however, have redefined the term.
In March, my husband and I bought a 200-year-old farmhouse in Ridgefield, Conn. - a childhood spent among antiques leaves its mark, it would seem - and we gladly traded in our big city lifestyle for country living. We wanted, we told ourselves, something more private, where space was not measured by avenues or subway stops, but punctuated by a Sleepy Hollow of apple trees, and where modern-day amenities were accessible, but not intrusive.
The four-acre property we found fit the bill, until I checked my cell phone. No service. We tried Sprint, Cingular and Verizon. No signal. Even the 60-mile commute from the house to Manhattan was filled with weak spots that lasted for long stretches of road. Our cell phones quickly and routinely ran down their batteries searching for service. Before we set up our phone and high speed Internet access, I had to order takeout by hiking up a hill to the local elementary school. As one coworker commented, I now lived in Connecticut's Bermuda Triangle.
I wondered aloud to friends and family, how would anyone reach me in an emergency? Would I be able to do my job well?
My brother Michael, a partner at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene and MacRae in New York City, viewed our challenge to remain connected with envy. "That sounds great! What are you complaining about!?"
(We think he may have tempered his enthusiasm after a mid-summer storm knocked down trees every 200 feet in town, blew off both chimney caps on our home and nearly trapped him here. We were unreachable by phone for hours.)
All this was an unthinkable situation for a four-year Manhattan resident who had long ago gone wireless, relying solely on her cell phone for communication.
We contemplated how many friends we'd lose if we put up our own cell phone tower in the back yard. What about a signal booster?
Finally, we relented. Just like the families who have lived in our home for the past several decades, we too needed the network of buried cables and overhead wires that Ma Bell created.
I changed my v-Fluence contact information to forward my calls to the landline at the house. Now, my work cell phone accompanies me when I leave, but otherwise sits idly on my desk. My personal cell phone has grown dusty from being left in odd corners of the house indeed, I lost it for nearly three weeks and thought nothing of it.
This effective loss of my wireless self seems a worthwhile tradeoff. I am, after all, living on a property bordered by open space and a nature preserve. My 15-month old daughter, Ainsleigh, has seen fawns play in the back yard and frogs hop across the patio. I've even witnessed a small fox challenge a buck to a duel (or was it a dance?). It can be a truly magical place.
Of course, there have been and continue to be challenges in this remote existence.
Should I lose phone service or Internet access, I have to drive five miles to the nearest Starbucks to work. When I get together with coworkers at our Brooklyn office, I must first drive 20 minutes to the nearest railroad station and then ride the train for more than an hour. Thankfully, my colleagues understand that I will not be accessible by phone for much of that time.
Four months later, we have adjusted to and love our life here. We seduce our friends out for weekend getaways with a caveat, of course: turn off your cell phone upon arrival.
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