Re: The Telecommuting myth

Subject: Re: The Telecommuting myth
From: Lydia Wong <lydiaw -at- FPOINT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 17:53:13 -0400

Caroline Briggs wrote in response to this ongoing discussion:

<big snip>
. . . , but putting it quite bluntly, I think that that it's really easy to
advantage of your employer if you're not actually on the premises. Please
flame politely.
<end snip>

I haven't been able to follow this entire discussion, but I'm pretty
interested in it (my husband and I are about to move about 30 miles away
from my office--I'm hoping to telecommute a few days a week). The company I
work for is very flexible about letting us work from home. In fact, one of
our developers works from home all the time. I've worked at home some, and
to rebut Caroline's remark, I can be remarkably productive at home. In fact,
with no phone ringing, colleagues to chat with, etc., I find that I have to
remind myself to take breaks (for mental and wrist/hand health) every hour
or two, or all of a sudden I've been sitting at the computer for 3-4 hours
with no break.

However, much as I enjoy telecommuting informally, as I have done, I
question whether long-term telecommuting would be effective for me as a
writer. Not that some writers in some situations can't manage it, but
personally, I feel that a part of my job in our company is to be a
facilitator of communication within as well as outside the company. If I'm
not in the office at least a certain amount, I will miss out on
opportunities to network with my colleagues (both developers and other
writers, not to mention QA folks, sales people, and tech support staff).
Also, I won't overhear that one conversation that clues me in to what's up
next for a product, or be able to offer suggestions when a developer is
rethinking some new feature, or realize that the sales staff's work on the
web site can be incorporated in or supplemented by the documentation I'm

Perhaps part of this problem stems from our small-company atmosphere. We
have little formal planning or documentation of processes, and our sneaker
network is heavily used. However, I can't help but feel that this is the
situation for many writers out there.

Michael Andrew Uhl said "Office politics is an important part of a
professional's life, for better or worse." I would perhaps re-label "office
politics" as "personal interaction." Ultimately, I think it's a mistake to
discount the importance of working face-to-face with our coworkers.

Just my 0.02!

Lydia Wong
Technical Writer
FarPoint Technologies, Inc.

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