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The Prizes and Pitfalls of Professional Privacy

As I write this blog, I’m in a T-shirt, barefoot, one leg propped up on my desk playing music sort-of loudly, and I’ve probably picked at a nose itch within the last five minutes and not worried about what it looked like.

That’s because, for the vast majority of my work for Mustang Marketing, I don’t inhabit the beautiful office building on Old Conejo Road that the rest of my colleagues attend. I’m Mustang’s lone remote employee, residing in San Francisco, surrounded by a different culture, climate and colors (less purple here).

I’m not only Mustang’s only full-time remote employee, I am also their first full-time remote employee. This has taken some navigating from both parties, and I almost always like it. When I get those jaunty holiday songs stuck in my head in July, I can satiate my mind’s desire for those Wall-of-Sound earworms without judgment (or annoying those not ready for Kelly Clarkson’s latest additions to the Christmas carol canon).

I can also wear whatever I want, my commute from bed to desk is approximately seventeen seconds, and get my work done without the inherent distraction (however pleasant, and at Mustang, it almost always is) of other people.

Pivot: it’s not all fun and games. Actually, it’s neither of those things, ever. The Mustang team is a vibrant, cheerful, friendly, funny group. We get along, we joke and we know each other well enough to be well past cursory conversations. Whether it’s a sassy sticky note or a team lunch, fun and games permeate the hard work in small doses on the regular for in-house employees.

And I’m not a part of that. I get one slice of office cake for every 12 slices the on-site employees get. I’m occasionally forgotten about on those special few days work ends a bit early and inside jokes have to be politely explained to me, not unlike when a grandparent overhears one at Thanksgiving dinner.

Not only that, it is up to me to be vigilant about staying up-to-date on all internal and client matters. Sure, everyone at Mustang tries to loop me in, but “out of sight, out of mind” is a real thing, and if I’ve learned anything in my five years as a San Francisco Mustang, it’s that I am responsible for my own workflow and project understanding, even if that means simply picking up the phone and asking a question (and, usually, that’s what it means).

It doesn’t take a commercialized holiday season to remind me to be thankful of my job and its perks, some of which only exist to me. But the seasonal reminders of sharing and togetherness do highlight the party-of-one nature of my work environment. And if that ever starts to get me down, I put on pajama pants, blast my favorite song, and eat a snack that I’m glad no one can see me inhale.