Telecommuting

Subject: Telecommuting
From: Daniel P Read <danielread -at- JUNO -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 1996 11:01:31 EST

>>> >I'd like to make contact with other telecommuters and share ideas
on
>getting work, convincing potential bosses of the value of
>telecommuting, etc.

I share the same goal. I am interested in feedback from other tech
writers who telecommute.

Bill Warner, Ph.D.<<<<<

I have not personally telecommuted, but have been in the position of
being the direct supervisor of someone who was working in a "virtual
office" for our company that was five hours drive away. I was also in a
position of having to sell the benefits of this arrangement to the CEO
and President of the company, who were against it.

They had the obvious concerns:

- can we trust him to be working on our stuff an not someone
else's (he was a full-time, W2 employee)?
- what about the cost of phone bills, mail, etc.?
- what about his equipment? will we be expected to purchase and
maintain it?
- what about the security of the work he will be doing? will he
be doing tape backups? is his house protected against the theft of his
computer? will he maintain an off-site backup? how can we be sure that
the work he does is properly integrated into our daily change control?
what happens when the relationship is over? are we going to have a lot
of hassles getting our work from him then?

The arrangement ended up working out well, I think, because of two major
factors:

- this person was a person of integrity, who worked hard, and
actually worked longer hours than he would have if he worked in the
office. I know for a fact that he took a nap at 3:00 every afternoon
(and so did by bosses), but this was not a problem because he was at his
desk at 7:30 am and worked until after 8:00 pm (by his own desire to do
so, not by our requirements)
- the nature of this person's function was such that it fit well
with the virtual office arrangement. he was a programmer who worked
strictly from written specs. he was not an analyst. he was not required
to be part of any customer interaction. had he been required to interact
more with other members of the development team, or be more a part of the
early stages of the development process, this would not have worked at
all.

In summary: the virtual office is a hard sell, and only works well in
certain circumstances. If you work mainly from clear, written specs and
are not required to spend a lot of time with programmers, analysts,
testers, users, management, then the arrangement works out well. But
these types of circumstances can work against you as well. If you are
not involved daily in the activities of the team, you will not truly be
perceived as a member of the team. If you are not involved daily in the
myriad activities of the software development process, you may be selling
yourself short in terms of the breadth of your experience.

Just my two cents.

Best regards,

Daniel Read
danielread -at- juno -dot- com


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