Telecommuted from hell (longish)

Subject: Telecommuted from hell (longish)
From: Greg Cento <greg -at- FOCUS-SYSTEMS -dot- ON -dot- CA>
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 1996 11:37:54 -0400

Kathy Fisher writes
Supposedly telecommuting is the thing now, but I still hear
>that many clients object to the idea, despite the fact that it drastically
>cuts or eliminates travel costs where relocation of the writer is not an

I thought it was the thing too, as did the software company that hired me.
They would gain an employee without having to worry about accommodating me
in their already crowded space, while I could preserve my sanity as well as
the environment by forgoing the commute. All they wanted was for me to come
into the office two or three times a month for important meetings. Sounded
good. I had just finished my writing degree and thought this would be a
great opportunity to "be on the edge." So we decided to give it a try. The
co. was about 130km (~75 miles) away.

So I set up a fully equipped office at home: fax, high speed modem, two
phone lines, big desk, filing cabinet, the whole deal.

How does one describe a year of working hell in 25 words or less? Some of
you might remember me referring to other problems I had with this co.
before. Lucky me, I got to experience most of the techwrite nightmares at a
single stop. Pretty efficient.

The bottom line was that the co. that hired me wasn't ready to have an
employee they couldn't keep their eyes on every hour of the working day. I
got the feeling that once I was out of the office, I was out of their mind.
They didn't seem able to organize information for me without my being their
to prod them along. As a company constantly in crisis mode, you had to
become another crisis to get any attention (does that sound dysfunctional
to anyone else?). I could literally go a week or two without work because
they couldn't find the time to send me any info. Finally, I started going
into the office 2-3 days a week. They liked this much better; they could
see me. I got work done. I also got a headache from driving three
hours/day, three days/week.

So we stopped the experiment. Actually, we didn't really stop the
experiment. I just stopped calling for work and stopped billing, and they
never called me back to see when I would be coming in next. Of course, I
never signed a contract with them... That won't happen again.

What's my point? I still think telecommuting is a very good idea for a lot
of reasons. My only caveat is to be sure that the organization really
understands what is required of them to work regularly with an out of
office employee.

As for my current place of employment, it is 6km (~2.5 miles) away, and as
soon as the ice melts, I'll be riding my bike in.

Greg Cento
greg -at- focus-systems -dot- on -dot- ca
Focus Automation Systems Inc.

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