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(Some Bathrobe Wearing Guy)   The Internet should have allowed most people to work from home. So why are we still commuting?   (domikepayne.blogspot.com) divider line 177
    More: Interesting, workers of the world, telecommuting, driverless cars  
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3382 clicks; posted to Business » on 08 Oct 2012 at 12:42 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-10-08 08:56:45 AM  
FTA:
"Who makes the policy on working from home? Bosses do, and bosses need conference rooms to herd people into for unnecessary meetings. Bosses need everyone in that conference room looking attentive as they go through their latest list of impossible goals and unspecific ideas on achieving those impossible goals. If this same unnecessary discussion takes place through a conference call with everyone calling in from home, one person will be making the call while watching a Hoarders marathon. Another will be painting her toes. Another will be cleaning the cat box, and still another will be closing his sleepy eyes and grunting agreement when it appears necessary. Ultimately those employees will probably be just as productive, but in this scenario, the manager's power is diminished. On a conference call where everyone is at home, no one is staring up at the boss in search of "direction." Without that hierarchical structure, the fact that he and his bosses get paid much more for contributing far less becomes easier to see (and prove). "

I think he nailed it right on the head.
 
2012-10-08 09:10:34 AM  

Bonkthat_Again: FTA:
"Who makes the policy on working from home? Bosses do, and bosses need conference rooms to herd people into for unnecessary meetings. Bosses need everyone in that conference room looking attentive as they go through their latest list of impossible goals and unspecific ideas on achieving those impossible goals. If this same unnecessary discussion takes place through a conference call with everyone calling in from home, one person will be making the call while watching a Hoarders marathon. Another will be painting her toes. Another will be cleaning the cat box, and still another will be closing his sleepy eyes and grunting agreement when it appears necessary. Ultimately those employees will probably be just as productive, but in this scenario, the manager's power is diminished. On a conference call where everyone is at home, no one is staring up at the boss in search of "direction." Without that hierarchical structure, the fact that he and his bosses get paid much more for contributing far less becomes easier to see (and prove). "

I think he nailed it right on the head.


i think that's a really myopic view. probably about half of my company telecommutes, and we still have a very well-defined hierarchy (although i will admit that it is flatter than most). the real problem we see as we have shifted to more telecommuting is an erosion of our company culture. a lot of our new hires that telecommute never seem to develop any sort of bond with the broader company and attrition among that group is much higher.
 
2012-10-08 09:15:16 AM  

thomps: i think that's a really myopic view. probably about half of my company telecommutes, and we still have a very well-defined hierarchy (although i will admit that it is flatter than most). the real problem we see as we have shifted to more telecommuting is an erosion of our company culture. a lot of our new hires that telecommute never seem to develop any sort of bond with the broader company and attrition among that group is much higher.


There are solutions to that.

Where I work, you aren't eligible to telecommute for the first 6 months or so. After that, you can telecommute up to 2 days a week. That still puts you physically here for meetings and such most days of the week, so you can schedule for those, but you still get a significant savings on things like gas and commute time.
 
2012-10-08 09:17:33 AM  

thomps: i think that's a really myopic view.


I'll agree with you there. All of my employees have the option to telecommute when they're not actually on travel. Only about half take advantage (although all of them work from home from time to time).

thomps: a lot of our new hires that telecommute never seem to develop any sort of bond with the broader company


Totally agree again. When you enable telecommuting, you need to take some of the money saved and put it toward some social/team building exercises - the kind that people actually want to take part in. Even if it's just a weekly happy hour (if everyone's local), or a quarterly off-site (if everyone's remote).
 
2012-10-08 09:19:53 AM  

dittybopper: Where I work, you aren't eligible to telecommute for the first 6 months or so. After that, you can telecommute up to 2 days a week. That still puts you physically here for meetings and such most days of the week, so you can schedule for those, but you still get a significant savings on things like gas and commute time.


yeah our telecommuting is more a function of our hiring outside of chicago and SF, where we have offices. we have people fly in and work from the office each quarter and are really active with an internal social network, but for a lot of new guys, we're just a pay check and if a better one comes along that still lets you stay at home, they'll take it.
 
2012-10-08 09:21:46 AM  
TFA is spot on. It's management. Something that wasn't mentioned is that there are political reasons for keeping people in the office.

For example, the last job I had I worked from home 60% of the time. Management didn't care so long as the work was getting done. This job it's a rarity. Why? Because IT management is fearful that without asses in the seats the beancounters will want to outsource.

The ironic thing is that if I work from home, I tend to work longer hours with fewer breaks and distractions....despite the fact I may end up working in my underwear all day.
 
2012-10-08 09:23:29 AM  
Sometimes there are personal reasons for choosing to not telecommute. In my case, I could be 100% work at home, but with a stay at home wife and 2 kids in the house, it is not a good work environment.
With kids that want to check in on dad all the time and a wife that has admitted she gets frustrated when watching the kids while I 'just sit up there on the computer' while working.

So it is a lot safer for me and my marriage to get out of the house to work.
 
2012-10-08 09:23:34 AM  
Strange, we find it quite possible to have pointless clusterfk meetings while working remotely. Your 20th century union hall ranting will have to wait for another day... my outlook calendar is full today and I have to update the powerpoint on sharepoint in time. Two on-deadline reports due by friday, and I have to get the various people's crap to me by today.

But, please do go on about bosses and workers, you sound so awesome, international workers of the world FTW.
 
2012-10-08 09:25:32 AM  
A couple of lots laptops with sensitive information on them put a halt to that real damn quick here.
 
2012-10-08 09:27:46 AM  

Aarontology: A couple of lots laptops with sensitive information on them put a halt to that real damn quick here.


Must suck your corporate IT security allowed that fail to happen. Have you considered hiring a security consultant?
 
2012-10-08 09:29:37 AM  

Generation_D: Aarontology: A couple of lots laptops with sensitive information on them put a halt to that real damn quick here.

Must suck your corporate IT security allowed that fail to happen. Have you considered hiring a security consultant?


It was less about IT security as it was about some dumbass leaving the company laptop at a cafe. No information got out as far as I know, but they got super paranoid after that.
 
2012-10-08 09:30:17 AM  

Aarontology: A couple of lots laptops with sensitive information on them put a halt to that real damn quick here.


That's a case for disk encryption and VDI, not a case against telecommuting.
 
2012-10-08 09:33:04 AM  

Babwa Wawa: ... When you enable telecommuting, you need to take some of the money saved and put it toward some social/team building exercises - the kind that people actually want to take part in. Even if it's just a weekly happy hour (if everyone's local), or a quarterly off-site (if everyone's remote).


Another way to help lots of remote members is to have some type of group chat program that everybody is in. Encourage folks to use that chat and been flexible about when non-work stuff comes up and you help build some of those same bridges that being in person does. We do a lot of work day coordination of activities through group chat and still manage to compare stories about kids and trips we have taken and such like that. The team I am on has 9 members working out of 5 different states, so even just the occasional chat about baseball helps to build some bonds between us.
 
2012-10-08 09:36:19 AM  

slayer199: That's a case for disk encryption and VDI, not a case against telecommuting.


True. I never said their reaction was all that rational.
 
2012-10-08 09:45:01 AM  

thomps: i think that's a really myopic view. probably about half of my company telecommutes, and we still have a very well-defined hierarchy (although i will admit that it is flatter than most). the real problem we see as we have shifted to more telecommuting is an erosion of our company culture. a lot of our new hires that telecommute never seem to develop any sort of bond with the broader company and attrition among that group is much higher


Well, we're a non-telecommuting company, so I have a different perspective.
I'm more annoyed at our unnecessary facility costs.

As for the company culture....I think a requirement for new hires to work at least a year in the office before telecommuting, would be reasonable.
 
2012-10-08 09:51:22 AM  
If the equipment here keeps shiatting the bed the way it has, I may have no choice but to telecommute.
 
2012-10-08 09:57:04 AM  
I feel sorry for people that have to go to an office. I currently have the best boss I have had in 30 years of my working life. The only thing he cares about is me getting the job done. He stays out of my way and lets me do it. The only time he pokes his nose in my projects is when there is a battle I need him to help me fight. He gets my back every time. He earned my loyalty and I actually put more effort into this job than I have any other and my results show it. What's crazy is he has 30+ people around the world he manages the same way. I've never seen a micro manager come close to being that effective. I've had plenty of those. They suck. Point is if you have the right management and culture telecommuting is much more effective. But management is stubborn and it will be a while until it adapts to new technology.
 
2012-10-08 10:03:23 AM  

Bonkthat_Again: Well, we're a non-telecommuting company, so I have a different perspective.
I'm more annoyed at our unnecessary facility costs.

As for the company culture....I think a requirement for new hires to work at least a year in the office before telecommuting, would be reasonable.


yeah, we're just finishing up an extended period of really aggressive scaling and telecommuting has been a big part of that strategy, partly because we just couldn't keep expanding physically enough to keep up with our headcount growth. i'm a proponent of telecommuting, just wanted to point out an issue we've had with it that doesn't include management egos.
 
2012-10-08 10:08:37 AM  

sammyk: I feel sorry for people that have to go to an office. I currently have the best boss I have had in 30 years of my working life. The only thing he cares about is me getting the job done. He stays out of my way and lets me do it. The only time he pokes his nose in my projects is when there is a battle I need him to help me fight. He gets my back every time. He earned my loyalty and I actually put more effort into this job than I have any other and my results show it. What's crazy is he has 30+ people around the world he manages the same way. I've never seen a micro manager come close to being that effective. I've had plenty of those. They suck. Point is if you have the right management and culture telecommuting is much more effective. But management is stubborn and it will be a while until it adapts to new technology.


My department is slightly smaller, but this sounds a lot like where I work. We have extremely low turnover and no deadweight in our department. If we aren't doing our jobs, it's immediately noticeable, so we don't have to be local to prove that we're working.
 
2012-10-08 10:29:27 AM  
As much as I'd rather telecommute, there are some advantages to being on site for me:

(1) it drags my ass out of the house daily and forces a disciplined schedule on me.
(2) Sadly, we're not a paperless office, so I still need access to the physical files sometimes.
(3) Coworkers do, in fact, make one's brain think about things you wouldn't think about if you weren't physically present. Sure, the chairwhale in the next cube may be droning on and on about jellybeans, but that can strangely spur your brain to remember the update the TPS report.
(4) And sometimes the chairwhale does have good ideas that you wouldn't have otherwise have heard if you weren't nearby.

Whatever, though: I just want to nap at the office and maybe bring my cat.
 
2012-10-08 10:29:38 AM  

Aarontology: Generation_D: Aarontology: A couple of lots laptops with sensitive information on them put a halt to that real damn quick here.

Must suck your corporate IT security allowed that fail to happen. Have you considered hiring a security consultant?

It was less about IT security as it was about some dumbass leaving the company laptop at a cafe. No information got out as far as I know, but they got super paranoid after that.


I'm pretty paranoid about my work laptop. The nature of my job as a programmer/analyst means that there are at times a *BUNCH* of information that could be used both to hack into our systems, and also to steal the identity of tens of thousands of people associated in some way with my employer. If it's not at my house or in my office, it's locked in the trunk of my car.
 
2012-10-08 10:30:45 AM  

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: As much as I'd rather telecommute, there are some advantages to being on site for me:

(1) it drags my ass out of the house daily and forces a disciplined schedule on me.
(2) Sadly, we're not a paperless office, so I still need access to the physical files sometimes.
(3) Coworkers do, in fact, make one's brain think about things you wouldn't think about if you weren't physically present. Sure, the chairwhale in the next cube may be droning on and on about jellybeans, but that can strangely spur your brain to remember the update the TPS report.
(4) And sometimes the chairwhale does have good ideas that you wouldn't have otherwise have heard if you weren't nearby.

Whatever, though: I just want to nap at the office and maybe bring my cat.


That's why I like a mix of telecommuting and physical presence. I get the benefits of both.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-10-08 10:48:02 AM  
The Boston Globe had an article in 2001 about suburban office buildings. There's a reason they are surrounded by acres of parking with no other businesses nearby. Being able to go out to lunch is a big negative to corporate planners. You're supposed to arrive, work, eat in the cafeteria while talking about work, work, and go home, with no distractions. One of the newcomers to the I-495 belt was Cisco. The article observed, "If Cisco can't move bits instead of butts, who can?"

I do work from home a lot. My job is near the edge of my commuting range (half hour).
 
2012-10-08 10:51:12 AM  
As much as I would like to, it's pretty hard to use the welder over the internet.
 
2012-10-08 10:57:42 AM  

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: As much as I'd rather telecommute, there are some advantages to being on site for me:

(1) it drags my ass out of the house daily and forces a disciplined schedule on me.
(2) Sadly, we're not a paperless office, so I still need access to the physical files sometimes.
(3) Coworkers do, in fact, make one's brain think about things you wouldn't think about if you weren't physically present. Sure, the chairwhale in the next cube may be droning on and on about jellybeans, but that can strangely spur your brain to remember the update the TPS report.
(4) And sometimes the chairwhale does have good ideas that you wouldn't have otherwise have heard if you weren't nearby.

Whatever, though: I just want to nap at the office and maybe bring my cat.


5) I like to keep work-place and home-place seperate. I feel more motivated to work and stay on task better at the office (he said while hanging out on Fark at work).
 
2012-10-08 11:06:57 AM  
The thrill of furtively masturbating under my desk while staring at the cleaning lady is sharply reduced whem I'm at home.
 
2012-10-08 11:12:16 AM  

Mr. Coffee Nerves: The thrill of furtively masturbating under my desk while staring at the cleaning lady is sharply reduced whem I'm at home.


Then get a cleaning lady for your home. Problem solved.
 
2012-10-08 11:13:26 AM  

give me doughnuts: Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: As much as I'd rather telecommute, there are some advantages to being on site for me:

(1) it drags my ass out of the house daily and forces a disciplined schedule on me.
---------
5) I like to keep work-place and home-place seperate. I feel more motivated to work and stay on task better at the office (he said while hanging out on Fark at work).


I mostly interact with coworkers by email, even when they're on the same floor. On days I decide to remote login from home, they may not even know I'm not there. But I need to avoid the distractions of being at home. Otherwise, I'm doing little chores and errands all day.
 
2012-10-08 12:04:05 PM  
I live in the DC metro area/NoVa/Fairfax county. With DC traffic what it is, high gas prices and the general stress of daily, long commutes, the inability to telecommute to work is an outright deal breaker for me at this point. With my last job hunt, I was very specific about being able to telecommute when I wanted to. Currently I live in Herndon and commute to Reston (specifically the Reston Town Center). 4.5 miles door to door. Traffic in DC is a farking nightmare, especially because of all the construction for the metro.

I suspect as time goes on, as the olde upper management dinosaurs retire and as a new, fresh workforce that is used to doing everything online, remotely...we will see a change in the way people do business. Hell, my company just hired a Java programmer who lives in the farking middle of no where North Dakota. We have only spoken with him over the phone and email, and will never likely meet him face to face.

The change is coming, slowly, but it is getting there.
 
2012-10-08 12:34:21 PM  

Mr. Coffee Nerves: The thrill of furtively masturbating under my desk while staring at the cleaning lady is sharply reduced whem I'm at home.


At home I get to bang the cleaning lady.
 
2012-10-08 12:39:50 PM  
Because people tend to be slow to embrace culture changes. And organizations made up of these people are slower still
 
2012-10-08 12:46:45 PM  

dittybopper: Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: As much as I'd rather telecommute, there are some advantages to being on site for me:

(1) it drags my ass out of the house daily and forces a disciplined schedule on me.
(2) Sadly, we're not a paperless office, so I still need access to the physical files sometimes.
(3) Coworkers do, in fact, make one's brain think about things you wouldn't think about if you weren't physically present. Sure, the chairwhale in the next cube may be droning on and on about jellybeans, but that can strangely spur your brain to remember the update the TPS report.
(4) And sometimes the chairwhale does have good ideas that you wouldn't have otherwise have heard if you weren't nearby.

Whatever, though: I just want to nap at the office and maybe bring my cat.

That's why I like a mix of telecommuting and physical presence. I get the benefits of both.


this.  I genrally go into my office on Tuesday and Thursday, allowing me to catch up with folks face to face, get some stuff done that is just easier there - like big print jobs or getting my expense report scanned in and sent. but I also avoid the always bad Atlanta commute 3 days out of the week, and everyone knows how to get in touch with me throughout the day when I am working from home.
 
2012-10-08 12:47:32 PM  
give me doughnuts:
5) I like to keep work-place and home-place seperate. I feel more motivated to work and stay on task better at the office (he said while hanging out on Fark at work).

Yeah, forgot to mention that one. I could never study effectively in college from my dorm room. I needed to go somewhere that felt like "work".
 
2012-10-08 12:47:51 PM  
Anybody with that much text on a black background site cannot have an opinion worth noting.
 
2012-10-08 12:48:52 PM  
Been working at home for 12 years (two jobs worth). I wouldn't take a job where I had to be in the office every day, unless I was WAY down in my job search...
 
2012-10-08 12:49:30 PM  
Because while I'm paying for "high speed" internet service at home, I'm not receiving High Speed internet service at home.
 
2012-10-08 12:49:45 PM  
Because sometimes the most important thing I do all day is tell my boss where on his desk he is likely to have buried certain papers.
 
2012-10-08 12:50:03 PM  

slayer199: The ironic thing is that if I work from home, I tend to work longer hours with fewer breaks and distractions....despite the fact I may end up working in my underwear all day.


It's not ironic. Been working 100% at home for over four years now. When people ask me if there are any drawbacks I always tell them "The bad thing about working from home is that you are always at work." It's very easy to put in 50 hours a week without batting an eye.
 
2012-10-08 12:50:16 PM  

slayer199: Aarontology: A couple of lots laptops with sensitive information on them put a halt to that real damn quick here.

That's a case for disk encryption and VDI, not a case against telecommuting.


There's problems with both of those (Off hour backups, cost of internet, and lack of internet in certain parts of the world). Still it's likely a problem with management and policy more than anything.
 
2012-10-08 12:51:48 PM  

Pincy: slayer199: The ironic thing is that if I work from home, I tend to work longer hours with fewer breaks and distractions....despite the fact I may end up working in my underwear all day.

It's not ironic. Been working 100% at home for over four years now. When people ask me if there are any drawbacks I always tell them "The bad thing about working from home is that you are always at work." It's very easy to put in 50 hours a week without batting an eye.


I tell em:

Good: Great coffee, easy commute
Bad: No snow days.
 
2012-10-08 12:52:10 PM  
Subby: So why are we still commuting?

Because they like having you under their control, always in their sights. Report to your cell cubicle by 0900 sharp, or be cast back in to poverty.

/and because we let them, but that's another story.
 
2012-10-08 12:52:17 PM  
Some people need an office environment to work. I know a significant number of coworkers who just straight up admit that they don't do anything when they're "working" at home... which makes it annoying because then they assume that because they can't do any work from home, that the rest of us are slacking off as well. Wasting our time on fark all day instead of... oh... wait...
 
2012-10-08 12:57:36 PM  
while at times i don't need to be in the office, they still want me there

especially if i'm supposed to be running a training class
 
2012-10-08 01:00:49 PM  
A couple bad apples here got telecommuting shut down completely.

If you're "working from home", don't take your family to Disney World.
 
2012-10-08 01:02:43 PM  
why are we still communting?

the Owners like it that way. and its their ballgame, not ours.

they don't deal with rush hour.
 
2012-10-08 01:03:53 PM  

dittybopper: I'm pretty paranoid about my work laptop. The nature of my job as a programmer/analyst means that there are at times a *BUNCH* of information that could be used both to hack into our systems, and also to steal the identity of tens of thousands of people associated in some way with my employer. If it's not at my house or in my office, it's locked in the trunk of my car.


i too am freaking paranoid about the laptop

if i'm rioding with someone it always goes in the trunk, if they have no trunk then it stays with me at all times

/lost several umbrellas but never a laptop
 
2012-10-08 01:04:37 PM  
Most people are lazy sobs.

I worked at a company that used to allow telecommuting. But lazy people ruined it. Far too many people abused the system. They stayed home and did nothing.

The truth is, I'd be willing to take a significant pay cut (and the company would save on equipment/office space) if I could telecommute 100% of the time. The real benefit (for me anyway) would be going to the middle of Montana and buying a nice house with lots of land for 150k with low, low property tax and a 0% sales tax. I could still work for the same Chicago-based company, but instead of feeling poor with my 80k salary, I could live like a king with my 60k salary.

// If anyone is hiring....let me know ;)
 
2012-10-08 01:06:16 PM  
If you ever had to be on a conference call with sales reps/engineers that are working from home and all you can hear are their screaming kids in the background, then you should know the answer to this question
 
2012-10-08 01:08:12 PM  

smerfnablin: If you ever had to be on a conference call with sales reps/engineers that are working from home and all you can hear are their screaming kids in the background, then you should know the answer to this question


i've called in to a software comapny that lets their techs work from home, and heard their dogs barking

but this same company lets people bring dogs to work so they could have been in the office as well
 
2012-10-08 01:08:57 PM  
I kinda wish I could telecommute. Difficulty: Security Guard.
 
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