Re: Teleproductivity

Subject: Re: Teleproductivity
From: Stina Lane-Cummings <stina -at- real -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 09:22:48 -0800

At 04:41 AM 1/31/01 -0800, Eric Ray wrote:
<<But, I'd be interested in hearing more specifics of _cases_ in which
telecommuting works for writers or doesn't, or more of what makes it
work...Any takers?>>

For almost a year, I worked from home one day a week. I appeared productive
and I had more overall job satisfaction. I experienced greater productivity
not because I was a better worker at home, but because my at-home work and
my in-office work were structured differently.

Here's why it felt more productive to work from home one day a week:
- I lined out my schedule so that no one could schedule me for meetings
that day. Regardless of their actual usefulness, meetings do not feel
productive, since they don't usually have a concrete result.
- There wasn't anyone dropping by my office to chat, nor was I visiting
anyone that day. I saved up the "how was your weekend?" chats for days when
I was in the office, therefore making those days feel even less productive.
- I only checked voicemail or email a few times during the day, therefore
I wasn't interrupted.
- Most importantly, I wanted to feel productive and to conscientiously
complete eight hours of work on my one day of at-home work, so all week
long I'd save up those projects that required long, uninterrupted stretches
of time, or that were dreary formatting activities that would've been a
pain to do in the office.
- Because a day of work at home wasn't the same as a day of work in the
office, I had to direct more attention to what I was doing in both
locations, so that I could allocate the right type of work to each. This
overall mindfulness and self-awareness made me more observant of my work in
- I could do some housework, like laundry. Or when I wanted a break and
needed to clear my mind, I could wash dishes. Thus I was able to feel
productive in two arenas simultaneously.

I could have managed nearly the same effect had I stayed at the office with
a "Do not disturb" sign on my door and the phone ringer turned off.

Don't get me wrong, I am in favor of telecommuting, and can supply strong
arguments in favor of it. But I'm wary when people make sweeping statements
about its being "more productive" to work from home. I think it's the same
amount of overall work that results from arranging the week differently.

Stina Lane-Cummings
Documentation Manager, Media Systems Product Development

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