- Insider recently spoke with a 32-year-old nonprofit worker who went to Vegas to work remotely.
- They didn’t tell their boss and everything was going smoothly until the unexpected Zoom meeting.
- “Many workers can work anywhere,” they said. “If you allow work from home, it should be flexible.”
This essay is based on an interview with a 32-year-old non-profit worker. They spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their careers, but Insider verified their identities and employment. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
When I started working entirely from home, I never thought I’d find myself taking a Zoom call from a casino in Vegas while trying to trick my boss into thinking I was in my home office.
But in September I was right there.
I work for a non-profit organization and am completely remote
There is even still an expectation that I work from home and sit at my computer all day. My boss is very strict about the rules — I feel like she doesn’t even leave her desk between 9am and 6pm every day.
Even when I work from a coffee shop, I feel the need to explain it to her. I feel like she’s judging me every time my Zoom background is something different than what she knows is my home office with all my plants behind me.
At my job, we have this strict Zoom culture
You always want to make sure your icon is green to show you’re available and actively working.
I went to the doctor the other day. I had to check in an hour later and I informed the whole team. It’s strange, because in my previous jobs, I could just jump on the Internet later. I wouldn’t have to let anyone know.
But this is more intense. In a sense, it seems archaic. Why does it matter where I work from and what time I’m online if I’m doing my job?
I have family in Las Vegas, so I visit often
I figured I’d just work from there and no one at work would be any the wiser. On a day when I didn’t have meetings, I worked entirely from the pool. I didn’t tell anyone, because I don’t think it’s important.
I did — why does it matter that I did it poolside in Vegas?
When I had Zoom meetings, I was careful where I was working
We are expected to always have our camera on. This makes the trip a bit more complicated.
Sometimes I would go to Starbucks and just mention that I work at a coffee shop. But sometimes I would find a nondescript background and pretend I was at home.
There were times when I was in a hotel lobby bar during a Zoom call, but no one could tell because the wall behind me was blank and white. I used my AirPods Pro, which cancel noise even when you’re talking, which was a super useful feature for me.
Everything was going well until my boss added an unexpected meeting to my calendar
I was in my hotel room and I knew I had to find a place to Zoom that was less obvious. I went to the lobby to find a chair or couch that had an inconspicuous background, but everything I had used before was taken.
I was literally walking around the hotel and casino with my laptop, trying every chair in the lobby with Photo Booth open on my computer to see what my background would look like, but I couldn’t find it anywhere.
I finally passed the casino and saw a bar in the corner with a couch against the wall. I sat there and checked my background; everything looked good.
When I found the nondescript background, the next challenge was my sound
The casinos are really loud with the machines ringing and the conversations of people drinking and playing. I was afraid that my boss would be able to hear it, so I quickly chatted one of my colleagues and told her the truth — that I was at a casino in Vegas and I was worried that our boss would be able to tell.
My colleague said she set up a quick Zoom for us to check what our boss would be able to hear. With my noise-canceling AirPods, my colleague said she couldn’t hear the sounds of the casino.
I was so grateful, but it was such a stressful situation. I was totally struggling, but it worked in the end.
I wish I felt like I could be honest with my boss about where I’m at
It would have saved me a lot of time spent frantically trying to find a couch in a hotel lobby with a white wall for a Zoom background.
I don’t know why employers don’t understand that many workers can work from anywhere, and if you allow work from home, it should be really flexible. I think that way of thinking – that you have to sit at a desk for nine hours a day or you don’t really work – will one day make certain generations obsolete.
Do you have an interesting story about working remotely, with or without your job’s permission? Email Fortesa Latif at [email protected]