Re: The Telecommuting Myth and ignorant remarks

Subject: Re: The Telecommuting Myth and ignorant remarks
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 08:32:25 -0600

Tim Altom wrote:
> My original post on this expressed what is essentially Barry's point here,
> but I didn't make it explicit what I was talking about: my favorite way of
> working is for a company that emphasizes the process and the team, not the
> product. Products come and go, but employee enthusiasm is the company's most
> precious asset. In such a company, even a product that fails is no big deal,
> because with a synergistic team another product is only a heartbeat away.
> Most such companies generate far more ideas than they can ever develop. In
> such a company, a tech writer isn't generating documentation, but
> contributing his or her skills. There's a difference. Everyone contributes.
> A tech writer may do QA, or help with the GUI, or do project management, or
> do research, or go get coffee. And oh yes, be responsible for the doc, when
> the time arises. But what's important isn't the tech writer or the code or
> the market. What's vitally important is that coders and tech writers and
> everybody else feel needed. You get a sense that you're part of something
> grander than any manual, any application, any individual's deliverable.



> The other side of this is the company that's product-centric, and therefore
> needs defined skills and specs from its people. We come together to do a
> project, we disperse. These kinds of teams are simple to put together,


> In such a company, why not telecommute, if you're able to? You're just a
> writer or whatever. Not a contributor, but a job description. If that's
> where you feel comfortable, fine. It's just not my favorite way to be.
> Believe me, I've done more than my share of being a module, doing
> one-project jobs. It's a good living and fun most of the time. But it
> doesn't tap my essential being the way that a team does.

But, Tim, it's not an either/or thing. I telecommute full-time,
but the organization I work for is probably as close to your
ideal environment as any company could be, particularly given the
size (very large) and process maturity (high) of this organization.
There's absolutely no reason that you can't have BOTH the
good environment AND the flexibility to telecommute, and have
the telecommuting be productive and useful for all.

Everyone I work with has my phone number (and uses it). If someone
needs something, I'm there. Sure, there are some limitations
and issues to deal with as a remote worker, but I work hard
at both minimizing the issues and making the ways I need to
impose on my co-workers as painless as possible (e.g., I've
prepared a whole pile of FedEx labels addressed to me that
are conveniently available to everyone, so if I need something
shipped to me, I can ask and know that it'll take 3 minutes
or less of someone's time). I'm reasonably sure that others
on the team feel that I contribute more help than I create hassles.
Speaking of teams, the fact that I'm 1000 miles away from the
office doesn't seem to have any effect on being considered
part of the group and feeling like a player and member, rather
than a hired gun.

If telecommuting works depends on management's buy-in
and support and trust, on co-workers understanding
and buy-in and trust, and on responsible, productive,
hard-working telecommuters. Put those three pieces
together, and it DOES work. The most common problems
tend to come from management first, lack of understanding
etc. from co-workers second, and only rarely from
irresponsible telecommuters.

ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com
BTW, one issue that hasn't yet been addressed is that
telecommuters require a certain amount of technical
savvy to be effective. Working 60 hours a week does
no good if 45 of those are spend dealing with technical
issues that a more knowledgable person could fix in
5 minutes.

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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