A recent infographic that I saw on Mashable was touting the results of a survey about how more people are working remotely than ever and it doesn’t look to stop. Further, it highlighted that the ability to work remotely as a big perk when looking to join a company.
This is a big change in the work-culture from when our parents were trying to climb the corporate ladder. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not your father’s (or mother’s) job! Back then pretty much only the road warrior salesperson role was a one that would be considered acceptable for being remote. And, even then it was only partially remote. Now, working remotely is more and more common and more accepted in the corporate world.
This is pretty much a polar opposite of my company’s attitude.
My company has all the tools which would make it extremely easy to work remotely. We have a solid phone system that can route callers of my desk work number to any location I wish…and they don’t even know it. We have a very good VPN solution allowing me to tie into the company “systems” and remotely access anything I could just like I was at my desk. We utilize solutions like GoToMeeting to participate in conference calls and share documents just like we were all sitting around the big board table. But, even more important, my job can literally be done anywhere. You see, my role is primarily based on email and phone calls with people outside of my company.
So, in theory I have everything going for me right? Hold your horses sparky. What we don’t have is a culture that embraces it. You see, despite it being perfectly acceptable for our management to work from home more or less whenever they want, they have an attitude that we peons can’t be trusted to work from home. I discussed these concepts in my post Working From Home or Far From Working.
Despite all of that, every once in a while I get my bossman’s buy in to let me work remotely. Generally , it revolves around my having to deal with some kid related issue, but today was a day where I just said, “Yo bossman, I need to be more productive and our cubeville just isn’t going to cut it today, so I’m working from home today.” What I didn’t add was that had I stayed in the office today, there was a better than 75% chance I would have smacked WikiWally, Cubicle George or my Bill Cosby sweater wearing coworker over the head with my wireless keyboard. But, I figured that wouldn’t help the cause. Low and behold, bossman said, “well…ok I guess, but don’t think you can make a habit of it.”
Given the premise behind my ditching cubeville for a day was around productivity I thought I’d highlight just how productive I was today vs. a typical day of staying in the office. So, here’s my account. You be the judge.
Like usual my day started with making kids lunches and getting them off to school. Once that was done, I retired to my home office with a good Cup O’ Joe and a nice bowl of oatmeal with blueberries. And, set out to plowing through the masses of overnight email from all corners of the globe.
Had I gone to the office instead, I would have spent 45+ minutes commuting to our office. This would have been complete wasted time – although I would have enjoyed my early morning talk show gents – Armstrong & Getty.
About an hour and a half later it was time for my first conference call. This would be a traditional call with no slide or document sharing. Additionally, it was one that would go for at least an hour and I would only have to speak for maybe 5 minutes. With headset donned and my wireless phone properly muted (folks, if attempting this please double or triple check this key aspect) I proceeded to multitasking – i.e. trying to make my initial ascent up Mount CV (aka our weekly laundry). When it was time for me to talk I had my notes in front of me and provided my update.
Had I gone to the office instead, I would have spent that time between arrival and my first call – 45 minutes – likely trying to go through email and/or getting cranky listening to my coworkers BS’ing with each other. I would then have joined the call from my desk (like everyone else as the team is spread out across the country) and likely surfed the web reading cool blogs like this one and those on the right side of my blog labeled “What distract me”.
A couple more hours of preparing a presentation for later in the week, email and miscellaneous phone calls later and my stomach was starting to give me its early warning sign for lunch. With no formal meetings on my calendar for a couple hours I decided to partake in the great leftovers that we had. Side note: the Missus and I like to cook and try to do it often (cooking I mean…crap you all have dirty minds). And, we also often will cook more than needed so we have leftovers. So, with that I set out to reheat some chicken concoction and get back to work. But, not before changing the laundry and folding a load (a happy Mrs. CV is a happy house). Back at my desk 15 or so minutes later and back to my presentation and emails which NEVER SEEM TO STOP.
Had I gone to the office instead, I likely would have gone out to lunch as I often forget to bring those great leftovers with me in my hurried morning (or is it that I can’t stand to go to the break room and smell the freakish meals that my coworkers microwave?). Going out to grab a bite takes at least 20 minutes if you bring it back to the office. Staying at the food joint to eat and you’re talking a good solid hour of complete non-productive time. Although, it is out of the office…
Lunch over, dishes cleaned up, and another load folded. Back to a few unplanned phone calls, finishing up the presentation and the email which NEVER SEEMS TO STOP. By now, about 3 hours have passed and the kids are arriving home. Here’s where you say the plan goes to hell, but alas you have underestimated me. See at CV Acres (that’s what I call my meager homestead), we’ve trained taught the kidlets that upon coming home from school it’s homework first before anything. This guarantees me at least another 1.5 hours of quiet time.
Had I gone to the office instead, I would have had to deal with the constant drop-by’s of my coworkers who insist on popping in for idle chit chat at random intervals designed to maximize my inability to focus on any one task for more than 10 minutes. Additionally, if history is an indicator I would have had to listen to Cubicle George berate a coworker to the point of virtual tears about something he shouldn’t have any say in, but does so to prop up his inadequacies (yes folks, you should partake in the Dear CV advice column as I may not be a psychologist, but have often played one on my blog).
It’s now nearing 4:30 and the kids homework is done and their volume is starting to ramp up. Thus it’s time for my version of the smoke break – time to walk the mongrels beloved family dogs. Everyone needs to step away for a bit right? So I leash up the pups and head out for a 15-20 minute walk. Then, back to my desk to communicate with my APAC counterparts who are in full swing on their day, which is tomorrow. Here’s where I always ask, “hey APAC dudes how’s tomorrow, because if it sucks I’m just going to sleep through it.” I crack myself up.
Had I gone to the office, I would have…well…this is the one flaw in my plan…I would have NOT had to pick up dog shit on the walk. Serious value there, but enough to go to the office? Anyway, I would have done more email, still had my call with APAC and still cracked myself up. But, at that point I would have been getting ready to jump in the CV-mobile for the 50+ minute commute home (Re, the CV-mobile, picture the original Bat-mobile only without the cool siren thing, no T-top, no flame out the back, much smaller, 100% more like some piece of crap middle-aged commuter car and definitely no tights).
Instead, I worked for at least another hour talking to the APAC folks and then closed the laptop lid for another day to head downstairs and greet Mrs. CV who, upon seeing all the laundry done and the dogs having been walked (plus poop picked up) had that look like I may just get to do it (yes THAT it) tonight!
I really need to work from home more often.
So, what do you think…are YOU more or less productive when working remotely?