Re: Re- telecommuting thread

Subject: Re: Re- telecommuting thread
From: powen -at- MAIL -dot- LMI -dot- ORG
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 18:16:50 EST

Auli thought of some important potential drawbacks to telecommuting:

> 1. If you are a salaried employee, your employer might put some not-so-subtle
> pressure on you to work a longer day than you would in the traditional office
> setting. In order to keep the other undeniable benefits (childcare,
> eldercare, etc.) you might feel obligated to put in a couple of extra hours
> daily without pay.

I would think what's important is not how many hours you spend but how
productive you are during those hours. Your boss isn't going to know how long
you worked - only what you produce. If working at home makes you less
productive, then perhaps you need to put in more hours. If you tend to be more
productive at home, maybe you should *cut back* in the hours you work, as long
as you're producing a reasonable amount in a reasonable amount of time.

> 2. For salaried employees, who pays for the extra power and use of your home
> as an office?

I guess if you are saving money by not going into work, the cost of utilities
and space are probably not going to be enough to try to get back from your
employer. In my case, as a consultant, I bill for long-distance phone calls and
any such special expenses but deduct the rest of my overhead from my taxes and
also factor such regular expenses into my rates. I think, as an employee, the
IRS also allows you some deductions for working at home - check it out.

> 3. Some people need to get away from home to really get down to work: I'm
> afraid I'd just diddle around and not get anything done because I'm really
> easily distracted :>) ! If you're not, more power to you.

That, in MOHO, is the hardest part of working at home. Not so much wasting time
in petty distractions as noticing *important*, non-work-related things that need
your attention - pulling weeds in the garden, balancing the checkbook, playing
with your cats (sorry, just got distracted there for a minute >:~}) I guess
you're less likely to get distracted if you truly enjoy your work. Anybody in
that position out there?

> 4. I'm not a great socializer, but I do need to see other people. I like
> working beside other people, if not necessarily with them -- something like
> the parallel play of two-year olds!

I have lunch or coffee daily with friends who also work at home. We feel like
we're taking a well-deserved break, and we can talk about things other than the
hassles of commuting. My relationships don't revolve around an office - I have
enough intelligent friends with which to socialize if I'm in the mood (some of
them are even nonpropellarheads, such as artists, poets). In fact, it's nice to
be able to talk daily with people with all kinds of interests. I suggest you go
quickly to your nearest book store/coffee bar and bring friends or make some
there. I also have my weird e-mail buddies (Matt - are you listening?). Also, my
friends don't tend to randomly drop into my office to get into long discussions
about the new tooth their kid is sprouting or the gossip around the water
cooler, so I can control the amount of time I spend actually working as opposed
to forging relationships.

> 5. If telecommuting were to become really widespread, there would be a severe
> economic impact on all the peripheral industries that depend on office
> workers, e.g. cafeteria workers, parking lot attendants, retail workers.
> There is already an alarming trend toward a two-tier society of techno-crats
> and techno-peasants. Maybe we're not responsible for their misfortune and it
> may be inevitable in any case, but I hate to see more people lose their jobs.

And those businesses closer to your home will love you for sticking around (see
my response to #4). Life's about change - industries will die and others will

Pam Owen
Nighthawk Communications
Reston, Virginia
Nighthawk1 -at- aol -dot- com, or powen -at- lmi -dot- org

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