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(NPR)   Working from home: is it the end of productivity, or the future of work? Depends on how seriously you take your job, I suppose   (npr.org) divider line 124
    More: Interesting, Marissa Mayer, knowledge workers, Patent and Trademark, employee benefit, web app, productivity  
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5155 clicks; posted to Main » on 26 Feb 2013 at 6:40 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-26 01:08:59 PM
As someone writing "WAH" (working at home) on the in/out board on my way out of the office today, I'm getting a kick out of this thread.  I appreciate the fact that I can work in comfort at home tomorrow rather than deal with the hell that is going to be tomorrow's commute given the rain/snow mix we are expecting overnight.

As a consultant, I'm not the least bit tempted to screw the pooch when working at home, since I have to account for my hours somehow.  I save myself between 90 minutes and 2 hours by not having to commute.  I can make calls using my computer (with or without video, I prefer without).  I don't mind coming to the office (though I begrudge the fact that I have to work at this office when there is one closer one to my home), but I do enjoy being able to look at the weather and decide I'm not going to risk the drive, or line up some appointments or whatever and fit in work around them, etc.

/best of both worlds: I can work at home pretty much when I want but I don't really want to all the time
//I think someone slipped me the corporate coolaid
 
2013-02-26 01:28:20 PM
I always preferred working in the office. I refuse to subsidize a corporation. By working at home, I'm having to heat my house, power the computers, shovel out some square footage in the place to set up a workspace, and have no dividing line between my sanctuary time and my work time. People think nothing of calling you from a different time zone. I'd rather have it go to voicemail at 2AM than have my phone jangle me awake.

I was in a group of about 10 people. Two of us showed up in the office every day. The other guy stayed in his office with the door shut and the lights out. (He worked by the glowing screen - I thought that was odd.) Users would come by asking for help. For them to come down in person meant they were really under the gun and needed help fast. They were always grateful to see me because they could not find the people who normally handled those requests. My coworkers who telecommuted used a lot of that time to do personal errands, shuttle kids around, or be in transit. They were not particularly good about letting people know ahead of time. One coworker I had would work from home and every time I called her, her kids would be in some pitched battle in the background. At her salary level, she could afford daycare.

I can see the Yahoo exec's point. I suspect there was a lot of abuse of telecommuting, which is pretty much human nature. As for complaining about wasting time in the office, it's pretty easy to shut down a motormouth. Just text another coworker to call you on the phone and tell the gabby person, you have a call to deal with that's very important.
 
2013-02-26 01:39:47 PM
I personally like a mix of WFH and office. I think that it it great to be at the office to bounce a couple ways of tackling an issue with other developers and learn about what is going on with the team etc . But when I want to get coding it really does work well at home. Put on some loud music and just hammer out the code without interruptions is so pleasant,

I did read a quite negative report on energy usage patterns in US about working from home. It basically claimed we would use more energy staying at home vs  commuting and all working in a office building. I can't imagine that been true for me (30 miles south of San Francisco) IMO.
 
2013-02-26 02:15:47 PM

mrlewish: Working from home means they will eventually realize that someone else can do it cheaper overseas.


You realize that you are basically admitting that you have nothing to offer for sale except your misery? If you are doing a job so menial that it can be replaced by a foreign worker, you have not positioned yourself well for the realities of the 21st century workplace.

You should see to that before it's too late.
 
2013-02-26 02:19:58 PM
I for one applaud the idea.

And I've worked from home since '98.

The real issue is that Yahoo has a ton of deadweight.  People scattered anywhere, mismanaged, and not working together

How do you fix that?

You can fire everyone.    Or, you can shake their cage, make them come in.   People that are biatchy about it ?  fark them, it's a job dammit get to work.   You're lucky the place isn't folded and you all are unemployed.

Give them six months, see what changes.   Then call her crazy if it didn't change the downward spiral.

Bunch of pansy ass whiners 'what about my children boo hoo'.   Hire someone to care for your kid if you can't.
 
2013-02-26 02:50:06 PM
My only complaints with working from home are that you become "institutionalized" like the Shawshank Redemption.    I worked for a shiatty company way longer than I should have simply because I was afraid of ever going back to a cubicle farm with a new employer.    Also, said company tended to over-look the stay at homers when it came time for raises/promotions because of an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality.
 
2013-02-26 02:58:26 PM
To be fair though, the USPTO is a fairly unique situation that's inapplicable to most businesses, except maybe law firms.

We don't interact with a customer except rarely, and then it's during scheduled times/locations.
Every employee has an independent workload and their own docket.
Every employee can pretty much perform their job completely independently of any other employee.
Every employee has an exact production expectation that converts Hours Worked to Expected Production Units; every employee also has a measured Produced Units generated from work they actually produce.
Every employee has a production report generated every 2 weeks that compares their Produced Units to their Expected Production to make sure you're not falling behind (really, it's to remind you how far you are behind).

The motivating factor to ensure you're producing what's expected: if you under produce for 3 straight quarters, then you're fired.
 
2013-02-26 03:26:54 PM
Contents Under Pressure: ***snip***

We have a team of 7, 3 in office, 4 at home.  The 3 of us are the only ones who ever get interrupted when a question comes in on the general line, even if the call is a question that should be answered by one of the other 4.  That system was annoying, but somewhat understandable, until a month ago, when we switched to a new phone system that allows you to ping outside numbers, just like you can interoffice.  Now, I don't even give the person a halfhearted answer, I just say "Person who works outside of the office needs to handle that."
 
2013-02-26 03:26:56 PM

Prank Call of Cthulhu: [media.npr.org image 462x346]
Marissa Mayer is kinda hot. Obviously a shiatty CEO, though.



i bet her curtains match her carpet too.
 
2013-02-26 03:29:10 PM

rev. dave: There are personality types who can get more done when they are not being interrupted constantly.  I am one of those people.   Just 2 days a week where I do not have people constantly dropping by my desk, interns and new employees asking questions etc...  I save the tedious work for WFH days.   Since I am in the Atlanta area, driving to work and back can take 3-4 hours out of each day and I see it as a waste of gas and energy.   To go through all that trouble so a manager can walk by once or 2x a week is foolish and stupid.  We save team meetings for a day once a week when everyone is in the office rather than have them every day.

Letting me work from home is like giving me money without a raise and making me work in the office costs me extra money and makes me want to leave the company to go work for someone who will treat me better.    You can only treat mature adults like children if they are stuck and cannot leave their jobs, but beware that the resentment you cause will reflect on the company.


lol   yea, Atlanta is a bit behind on their road construction schedule.  but they claim to be a 'modern american city'.
 
2013-02-26 03:33:14 PM
one huge advantage to working from home is that you can gallop the mule without coworkers gawking or complaining to the brass.

as for the ladies, they can tickle their tacos without stirring up the guys.


its a win win for everyone, including your one eyed trouser snake.
 
2013-02-26 03:39:28 PM

Magnanimous_J: mrlewish: Working from home means they will eventually realize that someone else can do it cheaper overseas.

You realize that you are basically admitting that you have nothing to offer for sale except your misery? If you are doing a job so menial that it can be replaced by a foreign worker, you have not positioned yourself well for the realities of the 21st century workplace.

You should see to that before it's too late.


or he could be right.   any company's largest expense is labor so unless you can sh*t tiffany cufflinks, neither you nor anyone else is safe.  the more folks companies have to choose from, the more average YOU become.

them folks overseas be smart too.

why do they do it?   cause the Owner (stockholders) wants more and more money.  and they will never get enough either.
 
2013-02-26 04:34:24 PM
working from home, would not have it any other way...fellow WAHs...you know what I'm talking about
 
2013-02-26 06:41:10 PM

MacEnvy: I'm WAY more productive at home because people aren't stopping by to bother me all day. I save up my drudge work for my telework day each week because I know I can really get some shiat done.

If people are obviously abusing the privilege, you have 3 options: warn them, rescind telework for them, or fire them. The same as if they were unproductive while in the office. This is not a difficult proposition.


Same here.  I was extremely productive when I worked from home, but I was always very productive when I went in.  I think some of these productivity issues are a problem with the employee and not the telecommuting, but there are those that want to say telecommuting is the cause.  Bring those people into the office and they will probably loaf there as well.
 
2013-02-26 07:06:21 PM
I'm shocked to find that biggest "pro" to working at home among farkers is the lack of the whole "human interaction" element.

Shocked.
 
2013-02-26 07:40:39 PM

robohobo: Jon iz teh kewl: robohobo: sendtodave: Productivity:  Is it the end-all measurement of worth, or will future companies value more important things?  Depends on who you work for, I guess.

Lots of companies value bs facetime/asskissing more than being productive. Those companies are bad.

why do you say that?

It's bad if the facetime and asskissing come at the expense of productivity and money making. Money making being the only reason to be a business. Now if the asskissing and facetime somehow turn into moneymaking, good for them, but I personally want no part of it, because fark asskissing and feelings in business.TwistedFark: s.

Maybe the rest of you are farking angels, but it if was me I would be collecting the sweet Yahoo! paycheck and then either playing FTL all day or working on my web strip poker start up. I'm pretty certain that I'm in the majority with this self assessment.

In my experience, it's 50/50. I put in a lot of hours at home, explicitly because I loathe a standard job where I have to deal with people face to face and deal with office politics. I work harder at home so I'm WAY covered in people knowing I'm more productive than if I were on-site. That said, I know guys who do shiat-all working from home but still collect the paycheck.


no.  the only reason to get a job is to get money.  you don't work "so the company gets money".  you get money so YOU get money.

(i'm part of the people that spells J.O.B. whenever discussing jobs)
 
2013-02-26 10:03:10 PM

Magnanimous_J: mrlewish: Working from home means they will eventually realize that someone else can do it cheaper overseas.

You realize that you are basically admitting that you have nothing to offer for sale except your misery? If you are doing a job so menial that it can be replaced by a foreign worker, you have not positioned yourself well for the realities of the 21st century workplace.

You should see to that before it's too late.


Ah the old menial repetitive labor argument.

Do you think that foreign workers are only good for menial labor? Are they less intelligent or something?

They are just a capable as we are but work for less and as soon as you realize that jobs where you don't have to actually be in an office/factory to actually produce goods can be done just as effectively in china, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya, Brazil, Peru etc. for a lot less then you can here.
 
2013-02-26 11:09:06 PM
No doubt you'll still be working from home all the friggin time, you'll just also be expected to come sit in the office 9-6.
 
2013-02-26 11:28:30 PM
I tried WFH a few times.  My problems with it is my boss expected 24/7 availability then.  Heck No! I am in the office between 8 am to 5 pm M-F.  It doesn't matter if I am WFH or in the office those are my work hours.

IF you allow me a semi-flexible work week (core hours/flex time elsewhere) I'll consider different work hours.  CALLING me at 7 pm on a Saturday and then getting pissed when I didn't respond immediately  is not acceptable.  Bad manager = bad WFH experiences
/when I physically am in the office he has no problems with my work schedule
 
2013-02-26 11:50:01 PM

robohobo: sendtodave: robohobo: sendtodave: Productivity:  Is it the end-all measurement of worth, or will future companies value more important things?  Depends on who you work for, I guess.

Lots of companies value bs facetime/asskissing more than being productive. Those companies are bad.

http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/worktime/

An average worker needs to work a mere 11 hours per week to produce as much as one working 40 hours per week in 1950

Even since 1975, supposedly an era of low productivity growth and stagnation in living standards, officially measured productivity has increased almost 70%. The average worker would therefore need to work only 23 hours per week to produce as much as one working as recently as 1975

And, if the productivity measures have any meaning, the average worker could have a 29-hour workweek if he were satisfied with producing as much as a 40-hour worker as recently as 1990.

I'm not sure, I don't think that's even counting automation.

We've productively eliminated much of our workforce.  Outsourced the rest.  And then we complain that they are leeches on society.

Anyway, we're productive enough. We need to focus less on productivity, and more on expanding the workforce, and worker well being.

Oh, wait, I almost forgot, quarterly profits are all that matter.

Why be in business if not to do nothing else but make money? It's not the business of making life nice or making better things.


FTFY.
 
2013-02-26 11:52:38 PM

Magnanimous_J: mrlewish: Working from home means they will eventually realize that someone else can do it cheaper overseas.

You realize that you are basically admitting that you have nothing to offer for sale except your misery? If you are doing a job so menial that it can be replaced by a foreign worker, you have not positioned yourself well for the realities of the 21st century workplace.


Misery is a valued commodity in that 21st century workplace. If you disagree, ask around and see how many people you know would be allowed to keep their jobs without being miserable.
 
2013-02-26 11:54:13 PM

davidphogan: Having worked from home, it was one of the greatest perks ever.


As someone who has, for over two years now, worked at home (and repeatedly rewarded for being an outstanding individual contributor), it's not just a perk, but a way of life.

The company for which I work is global, with locations in six different time zones. All of those locations have dev teams, and my job requires that I'm at least someone available to some or all of them, depending on the product's milestones and the overall schedule for the company. I'm also recovering from moderate agoraphobia, so having the ability to skip going into the office on bad days means that, instead of taking a day of sick time, I'm productive for at least 8-10, if not more, hours that day.

In return for that perk, I work my ass off. Telecommuters that "go dark" or treat "work at home" days as part-time or vacation time piss me off, because I often have to deal with the situations for which they're unavailable. It's especially piss-worthy if they're vendors, because they (or their agencies) are getting paid big bucks, and to watch them waste that money through mediocre output and unavailability is like a slap in the face.

Telecommuting is great, if you have the discipline and integrity to remain focused. Otherwise, don't do it - you're not just slacking, but screwing other folks while doing so. Eventually, you will either ruin it for everyone (like at Yahoo) or get your ass fired by a manager that pays attention.
 
2013-02-27 04:53:23 PM

Twilight Farkle: Dear Princess Marissa,

I'd be the first to say that Yahoo! needs to be refactored from the ground up, and I'd be the first to acknowledge that physical presence helps when it comes to cross-fertilization of ideas, but are you really that interested in facetime, or are you interested in cutting headcount without having to actually use the word "layoff"?

By the way, princess, your predecessors should have sold to MSFT years ago when he had the chance. Seriously, YHOO. MSFT bid $31/share for you dumb farks in 2008, except that your board had its head up its ass like a multibillion-dollar Ouroborous and let it fall through.

Whatever the fark was wrong with you then is what the fark is still wrong with you now. You're not in business for the sake of remaining independent, you're in business to make money for the shareholders. The employees got farked either way, the least you could have done is admitted defeat and become one with the borg when you had the chance. At least someone would have made money over the past five years.

Wow. That escalated quickly. I'm just glad that I neither work for now own shares in YHOO, or it probably would have been worse. I'm OK with a little bit of facetime every now and then even in the context of a distributed team, but I don't know what's the more frightening implication: either Princess Marissa is trying to disguise layoffs/constructive dismissals as something other than what they are, or she drank a little too much of Google's cultural kool-aid and has gone full-retard against remote work.

Your grateful bystander,
Twilight Farkle.


I love you.
 
2013-02-27 11:30:12 PM

ph0rk: shut_it_down: Twilight Farkle: or she drank a little too much of Google's cultural kool-aid and has gone full-retard against remote work.

Yyyyyup.  This is definitely a Google policy.  Google discourages working from home because they believe that innovation comes when its employees are interacting and letting ideas bounce off of one another.  So really, those annoying conversations and human interactions that the work-at-home set are avoiding are actually what Yahoo is trying to foster.

No dog in this hunt, but if the office isn't chock full of dullards the conversations might not be so inane.


A professor or scientist stopping by to ramble on about his latest research is no more interesting than weekend sports talk when you're on a roll with real work. Where I'm working right now, half of my coworkers are basically done with the day's work by 10 am and just twiddle thumbs until a fire comes up. A few can't be bothered to recognize when others are doing real work, but you can't piss them off when they have your back every time the shiat hits the fan. C'est la vie.
 
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