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Subject:Re: The telecommuting myth NOT From:Chuck <writer -at- BEST -dot- COM> Date:Mon, 5 Jul 1999 19:51:13 -0700
I would offer an alternative scenario to Joe:
I not only haven't telecommuted, I don't want to. Recruiters and hiring
managers offer it as a "perk," but I don't see it as such. As a
technical writer who does much more than "just write," I want to be
deeply involved in the day-to-day development process, most of which
does not happen in formal meetings. Often, one or two programmers will
gather for ad-hoc meetings one one's cubicle to hash something out, and
I can't count the times I've overheard such meetings and stuck my head
over the cubicle wall and asked "You're making what change?" I have also
been involved in the design process (before coding starts), debugging,
and discussion of feature sets.
There's also the "out of sight, out of mind" factor; despite the
progress we've made, technical writers still are often not thought of as
integral parts of the development team, especially by the programmers
themselves. Rather, technical writers are too often brought in well
after a project has started, when all we can do is catch up and document
all the mistakes that the programming team has made, especially in the
Before you think I'm being too pessimistic, that larger,
well-established software companies don't have this problem, take a look
at http://www.iarchitect.com and note the difference in size between the
Interface Hall of Fame and the Interface Hall of Shame.
That "out of sight, out of mind" factor can even come into play when a
technical writer is on site, but not physically located in the same area
as the rest of the project's programmers (down the hall, on a different
floor, or in a different building).
Still, I can't argue about Joe's assessment of Silicon Valley traffic.
It is why I specify that I'm looking for jobs "in or near" San
Francisco, with the added note that "near" does *not* mean San Jose,
Sunnyvale, or similar South Bay locations. (Recruiters routinely ignore
my wishes with the line "I know this job is in Palo Alto, but I think
it's a good fit anyway...."--this without even having met me or talked
to me, but just from seeing my resume on www.dice.com or
But I cannot give up San Francisco. When I first moved here 6 years ago
I felt so at home in San Francisco that even though my job was in South
San Jose (60-65 miles away), I still got an apartment in SF. Recently,
even the drive to Redwood City has become onerous, so I generally
concentrate my search to software companies in SF or maybe as far south
as San Mateo. SF has so much that Silicon Valley lacks, too, that I
wouldn't think of living elsewhere. For living, though, "to each their
own," so what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another.
As far as getting back to the original poster a bit, it sounds like the
management there is actively hostile to telecommuting. While you should
have to show that you can be productive in a telecommuting environment,
once that proof has been shown, the company should accommodate you as
long as the situation isn't a detriment to the smooth functioning of the
development team. If they are not willing, get the resume ready. Many
companies not only appreciate the dedication and devotion of their
workforce, but don't make their lives miserable by being so restrictive
in the work environments.
Joe Schrengohst wrote:
> I regularly "telecommute" from my home near Lake Tahoe. As far as I'm
> concerned, it's not a lot different than sitting in a cubicle in Silicon Valley.
> I have access to e-mail, the corpporate intranet, and the Internet as well
> as telnet access to any number of systems.
> |From the employer's (client's) perspective, I believe that you have to be
> a "known quantity" (i.e., will he/she get the work done on schedule) and
> you have to have proven on every occasion that you can "work remotely"
> without a lot of "maintenance" from the employer's side.
> In the future I believe that more and more employers will begin to add up
> the expense of providing "space" on-site (and all that goes with it) and
> opt for more telecommuters. It makes a lot of economic sense.
> |From my perspective, why in heavens name would I want to live in the
> Silicon Valley where I have to spend 2 hours (or more) per day sitting
> in traffic, where I have to stand in long lines for virtually everything from
> movies to restaurants to shopping, and I have to pay the great State of
> California through the nose for the privilege of breathing the ever-present
> At 07:03 AM 7/5/99 -0700, Ron Sering wrote:
> |Well, I didn't check the archives on this subject, but since I figure there
> |may not be many people working on the holiday, why not put this out there so
> |those of us who are working can carp about it. After having worked for
> |several clients/employers over the last few years, I am beginning to wonder
> |how much telecommuting truly takes place in these wired times. I manage one
> |or two days working at home per month (sometimes less), but these are
> |granted only grudgingly, and have so many conditions attached to them that I
> |really have more latitude to do my work when I come in to the office. So I
> |have concluded that telecommuting is something that the magazines and Sunday
> |supplements like to write about as a Big Trend, but that it has only
> |miniscule acceptance in the Real World. Thoughts, anyone? If anyone is out
> |there besides me....
"[Programmers] cannot successfully be asked to design for users
because...inevitably, they will make judgments based on the
difficult of coding and not on the user's real needs."
- Alan Cooper
"About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design"