Working from home or far from working?

Work-life balance is something many companies tout as a core cultural element.  Work-life balance is something almost all employees both crave and increasingly are demanding. One of the many ways to achieve this balance is the often elusive goal of allowing people to work remotely, aka, “working from home” (cue finger quotes).

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the concept of working from home – the minion view and the view of the boss.

  • The minion view is often one of efficiency.
    For example, if you don’t have a commute, you have more time to work.
    Ability to multi-task between conference calls and shuttling kids to and fro.
    The freedom from the office drone to create that preso in a quiet environment, etc.
  • The boss’ view is often one of distrust.
    If they aren’t in the office they aren’t working.
    Working from home means their a slacker or goofing off.

So, which camp is right?  Well both are actually to some degree.

View from the minion

From my vantage point (3 foot opening in my 3.5 walled, 5 day a week human parking space) there is huge value in working from home. The daily commute time savings alone can equal almost two hours and allows me to get more work done, get kids off to school, and get various honey-do items knocked off during 5-10 minute breaks here and there.

However, maybe one of the largest benefits is the lack of distractions.  We all know the many distractions of cubeville – from having to listen to dozens of meaningless conversations wafting over the walls, to the being forced into the “how was your weekend” inquiry with someone whose name you can barely remember.  These distractions and interruptions are a huge productivity time suck.

Productivity while working at home requires a well thought out workspace.  Some prefer the kitchen table or sofa. Honestly, if your boss saw you working there what would she think?

I prefer the formal home office.  Mine is quiet and comfortable. Unlike cell block D, it has a stable HVAC system, has good coffee and other than the occasional funk coming from my son’s room, isn’t stinky.  My high speed Internet, combined with my company’s VPN, trusty BlackBerry and corporate phone system, which allows me to have all my office calls come straight to my home phone, literally enables me to do almost everything as if i were sitting in my cube and gasp…no one knows I’m not!

I still am amazed at my productivity when at home and often look at the clock and see that the day has flown by and it’s already dinner time.  As an added bonus, I have both a door and a window to the outside world allowing me, for just a fleeting moment to think I’m an  to have an executive. Wake up!

View from the corner office

Management’s view  is often from a different vantage point. Sure some people just isn’t cut out for a work from home model.  The are plenty of people who will screw off all day watching TV, playing golf, or some other Not Approved For the Office activity. The boss man needs to evaluate the person and their role when the question of, “may I work from home a day or two a week”, crops up.

Your equivalent of the Pointy-haired boss must also recognize that today companies are under real pressure to cut costs.  One benefit for allowing the remote worker is cost savings – no need to have a dedicated 6×8 polyester padded cell for each minion. Less real estate, less electricity and less one-ply toilet paper used all equate to cost savings.  Many well known companies have embraced this and have setup cubicle “hotels” for people to use when they make that trek to corporate for the day or two a week.  Some others use the “hotel” environment to make workers sleep in their cube, but that’s a story for a different time.

Bottom line, just like the IT dude fought Apple’s insurgence into his network as the device of choice by the employee yet eventually caved in when the execs started asking for various iDevices too, companies are recognizing the value of remote workers.

So, I ask you to share your thoughts, should employees be furloughed from the cube every once in a while?

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About CubicleViews

Observations, thoughts & random bitching about cube life, food, beer, wine, whiskey and sometimes politics. Living the dream in a 6×8 doorless polyester walled cell.
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4 Responses to Working from home or far from working?

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