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Productivity and Accountability Expand / Collapse
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Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 9:49 AM
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Thanks Steve!

I do not work from home often but will when I need to. But there are cycles in what I do. If I am working on policy or a strategy where there is more collaboration need to be in the office. Also if I am advising a development team on things to do and avoid I need that face-to-face time.

However when I am working on a proof of concept where I might write some research code for a few weeks or longer, that heads down work could be done at home. I choose to do that in the office however, and just put the headphones on, crank up the volume, and ignore the rest of the world.

Over the years I have come to realize that you can be another place mentally while you are still in the office physically. Some may think that crazy but high mental thought can transcend location. It is not daydreaming, it is the Tao.

M.


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Post #1428079
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 9:57 AM


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Dave62 (3/7/2013)

I think the last thought in your article says it all: "... ultimately employee success comes down to each person being held accountable for their work."

If a company (Yahoo) fails to do this for telecommuters then they probably won't do it very well for people in the office either. Conversely, if they already did this well for teams in the office then there probably wouldn't be a telecommuting issue in the first place.


I completely agree. Having had similar experience to what Dave62 describes with a global company, remote workers, whether at home or in a remote office, is a reality that has to be faced. IF Yahoo was doing this as a temporary stop gap while they got their house in order and established solid measures to ensure that all employees are being productive, both remote and in office, then that would be fine. If it is just a reaction to poor performing employees then the problem is much deeper than just having remote employees, and the situation won't get appreciably better.

Consider for a moment having performance measured by how much VPN traffic you used to determine if you are being an effective employee. Does that seem silly to anyone else? How do they measure the internal employees - how many times a manager sees them at their desk? Really? If so, that is sad.

Don't get me wrong, as a remote employee, I make it a point to ensure that I am online when I am supposed to be, responding to requests more quickly than in-office people, so that I avoid any negative focus, and probably work more hours than necessary. That is part of the pain point that I think goes along with being remote. I say all that to state that I don't take the measure of "VPN activity" lightly, rather stating that "VPN activity" alone is not a valid measure of an employees productivity. Again, this whole thing implies a much deeper problem than remote workers.


David

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Post #1428087
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 10:40 AM
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I read an article that said remote workers made up less than 3% of Yahoo's workforce. If Yahoo management thinks that 3% of workers not working in the office is even remotely responsible for their current problems they are crazy.

If you are accountable for your productivity and complete all your work, you're a success. If you don't, you're not. It's that simple.

Those of us who work in jobs where this is true are the lucky ones. I have worked jobs where the point seemed to be just being there NOT accomplishing anything. I hated them but my employers were happy because I was always there on time and worked my 10 hours.

I would like to add one more point. Some jobs don't work well in an office setting. My dad works in IT and is the admin over a a bunch of Windows Servers. He has to essentially be on call 24-7 to respond to any problems with his servers and often has to do upgrades late at night. He could never be available to get all his work done if he had to be in an office to do all of it because of the hurry up and wait nature of what he does. He will often start a process on one of his servers then go off and do something around the house for the 40 minutes in takes to process. If he were working in an office this would be wasted time as the company would be paying him to wait for the server to work. Since he works from home and is salaried he simply works as much time as it takes to get his job done, when the work needs to be done.
Post #1428133
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 12:47 PM


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No, it is not just about getting work done. It is also about accessibility, face time, not being prone to procrastination and laziness, distractions from a variety of different sources at home, managability, working on personal projects instead of working on work, isolation from the rest of the team. Last but not least it is about showing up and being there everyday and just being available. There are many factors that affect this. Steve, with all due respect, you are gone alot because we all read articles that you have published long before many times over in your absense. So, if that works for you, then that's fine for you. But I can tell you from my personal situation if I was having someone fill in for me all the time at my workplace for whatever reasons (away at SQL conferences, vacations, managing a horse ranch, or whatever) I wouldn't last long here at all, even if I had remote access, it wouldn't matter. I can tell you that for sure. it just doesn't work for most practical situations in production IT departments that I have been in over the last 25 years. i showed up at a co-workers house once that had a work at home arrangement and he answered the door in a robe and bare feet with three screaming kids in the background. Not a real conducive working environment IMHO. That explained alot about his quality of work as well. That is one of the real big problems about remote access is it is tough for a company to manage that kind of thing when they don't see it for themselves.

"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ..."
Post #1428204
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 2:03 PM


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TravisDBA, I think all the issues you mentioned are symptoms of a company that doesn't have policies and procedures in place that keep people accountable.

Procrastination and laziness, distractions from a variety of different sources can occur equally in the office or at home. If a company has a management style that can regularly monitor and track productivity it will work equally well for people in the office or telecommuting. If they don't, they can attempt to compensate by not allowing telecommuting but all that will do is mask the underlying management problem.

There are plenty of examples of companies that do this correctly. The companies that don't have bigger problems, which have nothing to do with telecommuting.
Post #1428260
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 2:50 PM


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Dave62 (3/7/2013)

Procrastination and laziness, distractions from a variety of different sources can occur equally in the office or at home.


Agreed, but the propensity for this happening is much greater with remote access than it is away from the "office eyes and ears". At least it ihas been in my 25 years of experience anyway. BTW, I have worked for many organizations including the government that have huge amounts of policies, procedures, and protocols in place and it still occurs.


"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ..."
Post #1428277
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 2:58 PM


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I think that is the point, Travis. The organization should have performance measures in place to ensure that an employee is performing in a manner that is productive. I think we can both say, sadly, that we have known many people that are there physically, following all the protocols, standards, etc and yet are not productive in any manner. Especially if you have worked for the government. :)

Obviously this means that the organization has clear defined goals and those goals are translated down to the team, and the individual, AND that there is a manner in which the employee can be held accountable to those goals / measures. I'm sure you understand.


David

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Post #1428280
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 3:01 PM
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The people that do well as telecommuters typically do well in an office. They're just happier at home where they can juggle tasks. The people that slack off in offices, won't do well at home. We might blame slacking off on being away from supervision, but my experience is that people that don't want to work hard, don't.


Very true. (Except that some are not happier working at home. Personally, I am. Especially on a day like yesterday where we got 6 inches of snow.)

There are some jobs that require more face time, so telecommuting doesn't work for all. But I find I can get much more done at home due to not having to tune out all of the distractions.
Post #1428281
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 3:21 PM


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marcia.j.wilson (3/7/2013)
Except that some are not happier working at home. .


True. I know people who would not telecommute even if it was offered because working at the office gives them a break from the significant other that is at home getting on their nerves all the time.


"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ..."
Post #1428290
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 9:10 PM


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TravisDBA (3/7/2013)
Dave62 (3/7/2013)

Procrastination and laziness, distractions from a variety of different sources can occur equally in the office or at home.


Agreed, but the propensity for this happening is much greater with remote access than it is away from the "office eyes and ears". At least it ihas been in my 25 years of experience anyway. BTW, I have worked for many organizations including the government that have huge amounts of policies, procedures, and protocols in place and it still occurs.


I think the opposite to be true. In the office, you have to worry about the office mouths, coffee pot and water cooler more than the office eyes. In the office or via remote - distractions are distractions. If you are successful in the office space you will probably be successful via remote. If you are prone to office distractions - then you won't be any more successful at home than in the office.

The key is self-management. I prefer telecommute. I also recognize the value of face-time and work that in where plausible and necessary.




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