Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Telecommuting - not exactly what I thought it was going to be...

Hold on a second...let me make sure I understand. So, with this new deal all I have to do is "be available" at 8 am for work (or if you're lucky, all you have to do is accomplish about 8 hours of work during the course of the day - just get it done - doesn't matter if it's at 8 am or or 8 pm).

You have got to be I get to wake up almost whenever I want, drink some coffee (for me a Mtn. Dew) and sit at my "home office" in my pajamas and work. What a deal - I must have the best job in the world! No commute, no ironing clothes, no parking, no "time wasted" in meetings, no boss (that's right - no Bill Lumbergh), no annoying co-workers, and no office politics.

Week 1: I must be the luckiest man on earth - I've got the best employer and the best job...

Week 2: It looks like I'm going to enjoy this - Hmmm...I wonder what's going on at work? I wish someone would call me - or at least send me an instant message. Maybe I'll go to Starbucks with my laptop and see what I can get done there...

Week 3: Boy, I kind of miss my co-workers...I wonder if I could start going into the office a couple of days a week?

Is this your idea of what may happen to you if you decide to telecommute?

I just read this NY Times Article by Abby Ellin, "Plugged In at home, but Somehow Left Out". In the 17 years of writing she's only spent about 1 year in the office and now, after weighing all the pros and cons, she is going to try it out.

Here's a quote from the article and sums up her "defining moment" - when she decides she's ready...

The final straw came a few weeks ago, when the battery in my answering machine died and I didn’t have time to replace it. For two long days, unable to screen my calls, I was forced to answer the phone myself — always a risky proposition. I was also forced to acknowledge just how much I missed that disembodied voice cutting through the silence.

THAT’S when I knew I was craving a full-time job in a real office. It wasn’t about money or health insurance or paid vacations, though those are certainly nice perks; it was about sanity and recognizing that it’s O.K. to be just like everyone else. That sometimes it’s all right to be another brick in the wall. That conformity exists for a reason.

So, you're given the option to telecommute and are doing your best to weigh all the options. Here are some thoughts to consider.

1. Who will be at home if you're there? Do you have a spouse that stays home with the kids? Will you really be able to separate yourself from what's going on at home? Me - no way! Unless you'll be the only one at home or can really separate yourself, it's probably not a good idea.

2. Discipline/Initiative/Distractions. Are you disciplined enough to stay focused on just work and get done what needs to get done? Would you have the cleanest house on the block? Dishes washed? Clothes washed and folded? Carpets vacuumed? Windows washed? Discipline will be key to stay focused on the task. The last thing you'd want to do is to drag your 8 hour work day into a 12 hour work day because you constantly get distracted and sidetracked. Next topic....productivity.

3. Productivity. You need to look at what it takes today for you to be productive? Are you basically an individual contributer and take direction from your boss - and typically via e-mail? Or, does your job require you to attend meetings, collaborate with your team members, and gather information from other departments and resources in the office? If you had to rely on e-mails, instant messages, and voice mail how successful do you think you'd be?

4. Cost savings. This will more than likely be a "no brainer". You've already got the high speed internet at home and your company is going to start reimbursing you a portion of it, supply you with a laptop, a printer, and some office supplies - you're all set. The instant savings will be in gas, lunches, and probaby some on clothes - no need to stay as current if no one is going to see you.

5. People Interaction. Are you a "people person" and thrive on that interaction with your co-workers? Do you love the office politics? If so, you'll be miserable at home. But, this may be exactly what's driving your decision to telecommute. Your co-workers may drive you completely crazy and they are actually hindering you from being productive at wouldn't do that - would they?

Now what's your decision?

This isn't an exhaustive list but definitely one to get you started toward weighing all the options about telecommuting.

Good luck!