Guilford Editor Telecommutes to San Francisco

Tech publishing editor Mike Loukides found the gain in efficiency in productivity as a telecommuter has allowed him to manage more authors for his company, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.

From his home office in Guilford, Loukides works with 20 authors located all over the country, each with manuscripts in different stages of development. "I've generally done more than most of the other editors," said Loukides. "Part of that is because I've worked from home and have less interruptions."

"For my particular job there's a lot of freedom for organizing how my job goes and with telecommuting you spend a lot less time in meetings," Loukides added. "Although I do find that despite having a lot of freedom to control my time, it definitely helps to set a business-hour schedule. I try to work close to an 8:30 to 5:30 day. I'll go into my office sometime in the evening and just check the last email coming in from the West Coast, but I usually won't respond to it until morning. And while other telecommuters may have a tendency to overwork, I don't have a problem with turning work off," Loukides said.

O' Reilly & Associates, with it's worldwide headquarters in San Francisco, California, publishes 70 to 100 computing books a year for the professional and corporate market. Loukides began telecommuting for O'Reilly ten years ago when his former employer, Multiform Computer Systems went out of business (O'Reilly was a documentation vendor for the company). Loukides was then equipped with a three-computer network and a DSL service.

"After I had been telecommuting for about a year and a half, I realized I was looking forward to things like dental appointments as social occasions, literally," Loukides said. "I found that it was necessary to force myself to get out of the house and see people, which is why I go down to Cilantro's coffee shop on the Green in Guilford in the afternoon."

Being able to orchestrate the flow of manuscript traffic electronically enhances Loukides' productivity time. Chapters are sent over DSL first between author and editor, then they're sent to a remotely located technical reviewer, and then onto O'Reilly's production department where Loukides is sent galley proofs (PDF files) for final approval.

There are about 40 telecommuters working for O' Reilly according to Loukides, including half of the editorial staff. He said they do a lot of teleconferencing with each other and with the office (group meetings once a week). "For books with multiple authors we'll set up a regular meeting time and use teleconferencing centers available on the Internet."

Loukides points that being set up with a home office has several advantages. "Although I take Saturdays and Sundays off, there are times when a project needs get done. I don't have to drive back to the office to do it; I can just spend the three or four hours at my home and go through a final draft of a manuscript.

"In addition, if my child is sick and needs to stay home my work doesn't stop," Loukides said. "I know people who if their child is sick they're just home with them and no work is getting done. As for myself I don't generally take very much sick time. I am still able to do some work and already being set up with a home office I am able to do it."