Discuss: Working from Home

Hewlett-packard / Hp pavilion g6 notebook p...
March 8, 2013 at 05:41:25
Specs: Windows 7, 1.4 GHz / 5610 MB
Hi all,

This week's poll question is about the uproar over Yahoo's new no-telecommuting policy. Discuss here if you think Yahoo made the right choice, and, if you like, the poll results themselves.


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March 8, 2013 at 06:35:02
While I know for me personally, working from home could never be as productive as working at the office (even if I could work from home, which I can't) because I'm much too easily distracted. This is not true for everybody.

Take my wife for example. She has been working from a home office for over 4 years now. She is the head of the Health & Safety dept for her company and as such, has to travel frequently to all their camps (they do industrial lodging in the oil patch) and their head office so their has never been any point in her having an office in their headquarters as she's always travelling.

I'd say she spends about 25% or so, of her time at home. But she works darn hard when she's there. She is frequently still working at 6 to 7 pm and if her work cell rings, she has to answer it because it's likely an incident she has to deal with. This happens on weekends too and the only time she gets away from it is when we go on vacation and her work cell has rung then too.

All in all, it depends on the person and how concientious they are. Some people would definitely take advantage of working at home to mess around and do yardwork, play games or watch TV. But there are those like my wife who would still work very hard and ensure they put in a full days work for a full day's pay.

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

***William Henley***

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March 8, 2013 at 07:33:09
I totally agree with Curt R and just add my personal experience.

Paradoxally I worked at home (sometime for days) to escape from office annoyances while developing very complex (and sensitive) reports for the board of directors. Though I had private office at the management floor at the company headquarters, the phone was always ringing and there was always someone in front of my door waiting to meet me. Obviously my work at home was more heavy than at office, no coffee break, no day or night, lunch and dinner at random hour. My wife (when at home from college where she teached) forbidden to disturb.

In short words, work must be performed where distractions are at minimum and home is not a such place (on the contrary I mentioned, but that is not the rule).

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March 8, 2013 at 18:26:54
There isn't a simple answer since the circumstances of the individual business and each employee are so variable. The big downside to "real" commuting over telecommuting is the time lost to either work productivity or family/private/social life. How does your workforce get from home to office? Private car? Public Transport? Do your key employees even live in the same city? From a Corporate citizenship perspective there should also be consideration of the overall energy consumption involved in the production of whatever work output each employee produces.
Obviously, in a manufacturing industry you cannot get away from having a centralized workforce and the need for that workforce to be present "in the flesh"
In the IT industry the picture is not so clear-cut. What is the environmental cost of having a workforce of say 1000 people physically commute from home to office and back on a daily basis? When these companies calculate their carbon footprint and look at carbon offsets do they take into consideration the energy consumption of their commuting workforce? I'm not particularly committed to either side of the "Climate Change" debate but it seems to me that telecommuting on a large scale could have significant carbon reduction upside. I work in public transport and earn my living transporting commuters into & out of the city. The roads are choked with one-occupant cars traveling at average speeds of less than 25kph, spending at least 50% of their time with engines idling, stopped at traffic lights, and the rest in hard acceleration or braking. Each person is therefore transporting not just themselves but 1.5 tonnes of metal & plastic in the least fuel-efficient method one could devise. What a waste of global resources.
The biggest advantage as I see it of going in to work is the sense of belonging one gets from being present in a workplace among colleagues. This kind of esprit would be lost on a telecommuting workforce, and all the training conferences and team building camps in the world cannot replace the regular face-to-face interaction of a centralized workplace. I believe it ultimately builds a better more productive workforce but there is no "one-size-fits-all" answer.

If the management of Yahoo have taken a balanced decision weighing factors other than just their own productivity and corporate bottom line, including the social impact on the lives of their employees as well as the global implications of increasing road congestion etc then one can accept their decision. If all they looked at was their bottom line then they should be condemned for short-sighted corporate greed. Perhaps our legislators should consider providing some type of tax incentive to encourage the expansion of telecommuting. Carbon Credits for each telecommuting worker perhaps?

Goin' Fishin' (Some day)

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