Welcome to the 21st century! 20th century habits die hard! What am I talking about today? I’m talking about the virtuous virtue of virtual vocations, more commonly known as Telecommuting or Remote Work. With today’s technology, companies should be adapting more widely to this strategy, and actively creating a virtual workforce. The reason why I’m blogging about this today, is every time I post a new project or job opening, I immediately get bombarded by very skilled and talented database professionals with interest. The very first question I get, “Can I telecommute”? Or, “Is it Remote”?
I totally feel for these folks, as I’d love to be able to quickly place them back in the workforce. Got projects + got skills = win/win situation! However, old-school 20th century thinking has companies lagging behind the times. My obligatory reply “Sorry, this client requires the resource to be on-site 100% - but I’ll keep you in mind just as soon as a REMOTE project comes across my desk” (And I will reach out to you when that happens, but they are still a smaller percentage of available projects)
Telecommuting is more tangible and easily achieved in most aspects of IT, and other “desk” jobs as well, but especially in the world of database administration, design and development. After all, the databases themselves are now virtual, and cloud-based! I’m a huge supporter of Telecommuting for many reasons, and of course, done this myself, both full-time and part-time, throughout my career, and still deliver delightful database remote services to my clientele to this day. In fact, I gave a presentation (on-site :-) back in 2011, at the SQLInspire event in NYC. The aptly entitled preso, “Telecommuting and the Virtual Office” – you can see me give this TED-talk on the topic. (I think I still have that shirt somewhere :-) It was a hoot, an all-day event with Andy Leonard, Steve Jones, Tom LaRock, Michael Corey, Andrew Brust and Michael Coles – presenting on different topics – compressed in a 15-minute lightning talk.
So, back to my presentation. I spoke about the virtue of telecommuting and the benefits for both the qualified professional, and the company. The subtitle, you may note, was “Making the Case to Convince Your Boss!” Basically, the summary agenda abstract of my talk was:
<<Have you ever dreamed of a job where you roll out of bed, brush your teeth, and then head to your home office to start your day? This is a reality for some and desirable by many. Wouldn’t it be great to work uninterrupted, become more productive, and be home in time for dinner? The kids would get more mommy or daddy time, and everyone is happy! Even telecommuting once or twice a week, wouldn’t it boost your morale, balance your life, and reduce office stress? Robert Pearl shares his experience being a Remote DBA, including experiences from jobs that had no work from home policy to those with a 100% telecommuting role. Is it all that it’s cracked up to be? What are the tradeoffs? What do you need to know to convince management that the company can actually benefit?>>
Yet, even in 2015, so many companies still refuse to entertain the possibility of a remote worker. Yes, there are still positives to having a warm body in a seat, team collaboration, instant interaction, in-person meetings, and of course, socialization. (I’ll get to socialization, in the next paragraph) All of these however, can easily be compensated by today’s technology. So, in the more draconian sense, it’s still the corporate mindset that workers off-site cannot be trusted, or accounted for. Trust but verify, is my answer to that, and also, employer guarantees from a reputable industry vendor. The fact of the matter is, telecommuters are often more productive that on-siters (did I just coin a new word?) No extended smoking or coffee breaks, no water-cooler talk, no distractions of constant foot-traffic to your cubicle. Sure, there are social virtues to this, but we’re trying to convince companies to come into the 21st century.
Oh yeah, back to socialization. Well, it’s not for everybody, but if you can create your own dose of socialization, outside work hours, or virtualize that too. Skype, Lync, Instant messaging, Google hangouts, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, still keeps you in touch with all of your peers. You are even able to expand your circles and geographic region too. No, don’t have to be a recluse, get out there to press-the-flesh, attend networking and training events, parties, etc.
Career-wise, you can have instant access to information and answers to questions like never before (waiting for technical support is so 20th century) Leveraging social networking, you can excel in your DBA career. Recently, focusing on the DBA (database administrator), I introduced the concept of the Social DBA – you can read that by clicking on the hyperlink. So, maybe office socialization is overrated. I mean how close do you want to get to your co-worker when he or she is coughing and hacking all over the place (well, some common-sense manners), and staying home (another great case for the ability to telecommute).
Let’s think forward a minute about the future of telecommuting. Will it become more acceptable with accelerated adaptation for the next generation? They are in essence the YouTube & Twitter generation. I’ll admit that my technically inclined son makes his room home to the Xbox, playing with friends on Xbox live, and surfing the internet. Is this not the typical teenager? Wouldn’t it be great if he could turn it into a cash job? He already has the skills, and can easily transition into a work-from-home job. (Just get your own apartment when you’re over 18, ok, buddy :-) I would argue that between everything hosted in the cloud, this type of virtualization of the workforce is indeed the future! Just like the Internet explosion - Embrace it or die
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