RE: Tele/e-commuting

Subject: RE: Tele/e-commuting
From: "BethK" <kanerb -at- concentric -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2000 12:51:57 -0700

The original poster was looking to hear specifics from managers of
telecommuters that he could use to help arrange telecommuting in his
department. I'm not a manager, but now that this has become a discussion of
telecommuting in general, I'd like to describe my situation. Maybe something
about it will be helpful.

Everyone who works for my company, a Silicon Valley startup, telecommutes
full time -- even the CEO. And we all supply our own computers at our own
cost. To me, that's a small price to pay for this fantastic freedom. Here
are some features of our arrangement:

o We keep track of how much time we spend on each project (down to the
quarter-hour) and send a daily e-mail accounting of it to our manager(s).
o We are all supposed to be available on ICQ during working hours. This is
great because it provides some of that office atmosphere -- being able to
see who's at work, you feel free to talk to them. Instant messaging is like
sitting next to someone, but both sides are more in control of the
conversation (ending it, I mean).
o The company pays for our ISP, high-speed access, phone bills and office
o We work any hours we want, as long as we get in at least 40 a week and
make it to occasional phone meetings.
o I've never heard a thing about receiving comp time for overtime. But
those who work more than the minimum number of hours and diligently send in
their time accounting are rewarded with more stock options. (That's what
they SAY; of course, we don't know how many stock options anyone is getting
but ourselves. It's confidential!)
o We have in-person meetings twice a year for the entire company, and more
frequently among those gathered in a certain region.
o We have monthly all-hands teleconference meetings, where everyone's
updated on what's happening in the company.
o I'm much more efficient and productive in my home office than I've ever
been in an office. There are far fewer interruptions; it's always quiet; and
I can work when I'm feeling good, as opposed to being forced to work 8-5 on
a day when I might be feeling lousy during part of that time frame (I get
o I get fewer migraines now than when I worked in an office.
o I don't find anything in my house near as distracting as the goings-on
in an office. And I can get home things done while at work, such as laundry
or dishes, because I can work it in as break time. But I still lose less
time taking those breaks than I did in an office, with all the things that
come up in that atmosphere.
o I'm much happier because I have more time and peace in my life now, so
I'm going to stick with my company indefinitely.
o I have actually wound up working more hours since beginning
telecommuting, because it's more convenient to work, and I don't have to
waste time & energy driving, doing my hair, ironing my clothes, and
wandering aimlessly around on my lunch hour on the other side of town.
o I've been able to collaborate with developers and others just fine.
Sometimes people start long e-mail discussions of matters that would've been
more quickly handled by conference call. Sometimes it's good to start with
e-mail and wrap it up on the phone. Other times strictly e-mail works just
fine. If I decide it'll be easier to resolve something over the phone, I
first ICQ the person and ask whether now's a good time to call.
o Telecommuters don't catch colds and flu as much as office people do. And
we can work when we have a cold, if we want to, without fear that we'll
transmit it.
o Telecommuters can work overtime without being far way from family, or
having to come out into a dark scary parking lot at night when the work is
done. I feared for my life after dark at one place where I used to work
extensive overtime.
o We have people working from home in the Silicon Valley, L.A., Boston,
Ohio, Rhode Island, Tucson, Seattle, etc. Time zone differences haven't
hindered anything that I know of.
o We have a version control system on servers in California. Everyone puts
and trades files from there. The IS guys in charge of the servers are in
close physical proximity to them. They're the type of people who will stay
up all night any time it's called for to make sure we aren't left
o Real proof of productivity comes in the form of your final product. If
you write & edit stuff, give it to others, and meet deadlines, reasonable
people can see you really are working full time. I can't imagine being
measured any other way than daily time accounting and final product.

We've had a couple employees who couldn't handle the freedom and didn't
produce. It became obvious pretty fast that's what was happening. It's not
for everyone, but I don't see how I could ever go back to an office -- I may
be hooked for life!

Beth Kane
Senior Communications Specialist
PersonalGenie Inc., Tucson group
bethk -at- personalgenie -dot- com

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