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Working From Home Not For Everyone

February 12th, 2008 · 4 Comments

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Technology is reaching the point where I can carry my entire office in my pocket. And various software packages now allow me to access my office materials from any computer anywhere in the world.

It almost feels like we’re getting to that mythical point where being physically present in an office will seem quaintly unnecessary.

Or maybe not… On the one hand, not everyone is cut out for remote work. Some people just don’t like it, and other people just aren’t good at it. On the other hand, there’s not yet enough empirical data on the issue of productivity. Something tells me that in the vast majority of cases, productivity suffers in most remote working conditions.

And on a third hand (assuming you’ve got one) there’s a growing body of research that says we’re just not wired as human beings to work alone from our personal deserted islands.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) offers a personality test so workers can determine whether they are suited to solo toiling in pajamas. Among other things, the test assesses whether workers can handle limited supervision. But even those who can require some face time. Researchers at IBM (IBM) learned that if teams went more than three days without gathering, their happiness and productivity suffered. Now managers are required to bring teams together at least once every three days—physically or virtually—for reasons that have nothing to do with completing an assignment.

Intangibles like worker morale and overall team productivity seem to require some sort of face time.

Setting up a remote workforce is a delicate balancing act, and while I think it can work extremely well in certain specific circumstances, working from home will never become the general rule in our worklife.

Out of Sight, Yes. Out of Mind, No (BusinessWeek)

Related posts:

  1. The Working Parent’s Stay At Home Calculator
  2. Working Vs. Stay-At-Home Parents, A Cost Analysis
  3. Tax Tip- Don’t Forget The Home Office Deduction

Tags: Office Politcs · Productivity · WorkLife

  • Dee

    I do freelance writing from home and I love not having to pay for gas commuting to and from an office, but I will admit it is hard to stay focused. I like to write with my laptop in my bed, but I find that I just start surfing and reading blogs (like now!), but when I actually sit at my desk, I get more work done.

  • Jennifer

    I actually work from home a couple of days a week and I am in the office the others. It is wonderful but I agree with Dee, it is hard to stay focused. I found what worked for me was setting up an office away from any distractions. I also found that for me it was best to work in the early morning, at my son’s nap time and after my kids go to bed.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Brian

    I’ve mentioned before. I work out of my house 2 days a week. And I just have a hard time waking up on time. I can say I get way more done when I go into the office compared to when I work from home.

  • Richard Rinyai

    Having the ability to work from anywhere in the world is great, but you do have to draw the line when it comes to your personal life being invaded with your work life.

    Some of our managers tend to read e-mails and listen to voice mail messages while on vacation. The human body needs time to recharge. This is a no-no in my book.


    Richard Rinyai