Re: The Telecommuting Myth and ignorant remarks

Subject: Re: The Telecommuting Myth and ignorant remarks
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- SIMPLYWRITTEN -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 10:27:42 -0500

Thanks to everyone who responded to my last posting. This is one of the best
threads I've been in for quite some time. It's been thoughtful and
pleasurably contentious.

Some repondents have given opinions that you can telecommute and still fully
participate. I'm sorry, but I'm not convinced. There's nothing that replaces
the daily, moment-by-moment proximity of a team member. You CAN run off with
your little piece of the puzzle, have good conversations from time to time,
get along with others on the team, have lunch occasionally, and work in
comfort, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a
wholesale, bone-deep sense of commitment to a cause, not to a product or a
document. I'm talking about a shared vision. Shared visions (not goals) are
only possible with constant reinforcement within an environment. Leave that
environment and the gravitational force fades inversely with distance. It
needs to be pervasive, like shared sunshine.

What I'm sensing from several people in this thread is a reluctance to
believe that this kind of environment is possible, and that it's smarter to
be cynical and careful than to be open to it, only to be betrayed when the
company is bought out. Admittedly I'm sketching an ideal. And I readily
concede to being a kind of idealist. But I've seen what teams with common
vision can accomplish, even over decades. Team members work long hours and
suffer much, but when asked why they'll often say "Because I BELIEVED in
doing it." Not "It paid my bills". Belief in something gives meaning, which
is far more important than money. The Open Source community is filled with
such people. I always feel good around them. It's why I delight in Garrison

Not everyone belongs on every team, of course. To belong, you have to share
the team's values, because its values drive its vision. If you don't share
them, it's best to move on. That makes such a team resemble a cult, if only
superficially. Some people, I suppose, are simply not "joiners" even when
they find a place where they fit. They won't last at a visionary company, I
guess. But for me, I love the sense of commitment and values-sharing.

As to the family costs, yes of course they exist. Some teams value families
too, making sure that while team members may work long hours, they get time
off for their families. They sponsor day care centers and such. Some teams
don't value it; they tend to be made of Type As and young people.

The trick is to find or create a team with your own values. If only there
was a Yellow Pages for them, but there isn't.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar Method(TM)
"Better communication is a service to mankind."

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