Technology

Telecommuting or Hell-ecommuting?

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MSNBC.com has a long story about telecommuting (i.e., goofing off at home rather than at the office) portentously named "The Quiet Revolution":

Today, upwards of 12 million employees telework more than 8 hours per week, up from about 6 million in 2000, according to Gartner Dataquest. The number will hit nearly 14 million by 2009. Caroline Smith, an analyst for Gartner who expects the number to continue to grow, says the rate of increase has been steady for a number of years even though telecommuting hasn't been getting a lot of publicity in recent years.

More here.

Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes reason and operates a think tank, was an early adopter of telecommuting and I've been phoning it in (so to speak) since 1996. Maintaining a virtual office has its drawbacks but so does having to see the goddamned people you work with every goddamn day. Overall, telecommuting has been a great boon to this here magazine and website, allowing us to keep people we want regardless of location and other issues. So I for one welcome our telecommuting overlords.

However, I'm also not blind to "The Terrible Truth of Telecommuting!" and have been known to spin a few "Tales from the Cache" (with help from Terry Colon) as long ago as 2001:

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  1. “……..having to see the goddamned people you work with every goddamn day.”

    Sounds like somebody’s got a case of the Mondays. Uh, Thursdays……

  2. My wife is looking for a telecommuting job.

  3. I telecommute for at least 8 hours a week and will probably step it up as soon as school starts as the traffic will become egregious.

    The first thing I noted about telecommuting is that I spend much more time doing the core work that I was hired for, fewer piddly interruptions. I still end up having e-mail conversations with people who decide they want to go IRL on me and come over to my office and start banging on the door.
    The second thing I noted was that I spent much more time doing actual work. Honestly, as long as I am in the building, I feel that I am at work and should be paid. At home, I can’t rationalize that so I tend to work an honest-to-god 8 hours instead of the usual 4 hours of work plus 4 hours of surfing the web and talking with friends.

  4. I’m looking for a hooker that telecommutes. It’s better for the environment.

    CB

  5. Nick, you forgot to wear the jacket for that drawing.

  6. Honestly, as long as I am in the building, I feel that I am at work and should be paid. At home, I can’t rationalize that so I tend to work an honest-to-god 8 hours instead of the usual 4 hours of work plus 4 hours of surfing the web and talking with friends.

    Damn, if that’s really then case then there goes my idea of doing some telecommuting. It’s definitely worth coming in to the office as long if it makes my slacking easier to rationalize.

  7. I have to second MK. I spend a couple of days telecommunting each month and always get more solid programming done than while at the office.

  8. Actually, working from home can be quite nice. You don’t – excuse me a minute… sips some beer … where was I? Oh yes, nobody cares how I do my job, so long as I do it well.

  9. Working from home, or as I refer to it, “Working from Home”, is fine as long as the kids are in school or otherwise not home sick. Or the dog doesn’t sound off during a concall.

    I look at it as getting back an hour a day otherwise wasted commuting, and no stress with the my-turn afteroon school/daycare pickup deadline.

    OTOH, there’s no vending machine at home…:-( furious

  10. OTOH, there’s no vending machine at home…:-( furious

    It’s called a refrigerator.

    Working from home full time is OK as long as you have no illusions about career advancement. Also, you need a supportive manager and a well defined body of work to accomplish. If you have loose deadlines and scattershot projects…well, distractions become much more appealing.

  11. If you spent the morning doing bong-hits, bill it as Admin time.

  12. If you have loose deadlines and scattershot projects…well, distractions become much more appealing.

    That’s my current complaint with telecommuting. I like not having to commute in Phoenix traffic when it’s 110+ degrees, but it sure does take me a long time to generate one billable hour of work product when the deadline is nonexistent.

  13. If it wasn’t for telecommuting I wouldn’t have a job. The economy down here has been shot to hell ever since the Antarctic Dollar went off the gold standard.

  14. Where can I get one of these telecommuting jobs? My wife plans to be an academic and move once every other year, so telecommuting seems like it would be a pretty good option for me.

    Plus I hate people. There are lots of people who talk a lot in offices and do not allow me to get any work done. And some of them whistle. And they refuse to turn on the AC even when the heat index passes 100. And they open windows on a 30 degree day.

  15. Occasionally, a project (drafting) will come up that absolutely, positively has to be completed within a couple of days’ time. When that happens, I zip up my files, put them on my portable hard drive, and go home to work on them. So much easier to focus on the work at home than at the office.

  16. “Telework more than 8 hours a week” sounds about right. Oh, do they mean people who spend one day out of five away from the office? It could easily means full-time telecommuters as well.

    I wrote about this in 1997, if anyone’s interested:

    http://www.barbecuingpeople.com/nauseam/fumes/one.html

  17. I just recently took a new job (better pay doing the same thing) and I work completely from home.

    Not sure how I feel about it. Recent experiments seem to show that IM programs waste the bulk of my time.

    Reason.com is only the second biggest time sink website I read and post too, though I’ve found that I’ve been coming here less lately, and shutting off the IM proggies more.

    So, the jury’s still out as to whether or not this is a better gig for mediageek.

  18. I thought the barbecueingpeople.com reference above would be more interesting. But, apparently, it’s about primarily about grilling, not cannibalism.

  19. I thought the barbecueingpeople.com reference above would be more interesting. But, apparently, it’s about primarily about grilling, not cannibalism.

    You found me out. Worse, the article I link to deals with neither.

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