Working From HomeWednesday, February 22, 2006
Heather mentioned working from home the other day and I, too have thought extensively about it. In fact, Seth made an awesome point:
“The reason you go to a building to go to work every day is that steam or water power used to turn a giant winch-like structure that went right through the factory building. Every workman used that power to do his work. As factories got more sophisticated, it remained efficient to move the workers, not the stuff.” Seth Godin
Nothing I do requires a factory. I’m a “knowledge worker”. I’d estimate that roughly 10% of my job actually requires human interaction; 5% of that can be eliminated with phone calls (there is only so much email can do). The point being: my desk is wasted overhead. In fact, I’m a sizeable cost. I eat the snacks, I use the electricity, I have a computer, chair, etc. Sure, some of these are sunk costs but there are plenty that aren’t.
I’m also less productive at work. As Heather mentions, the side conversations are amazing distractions. We’ll talk about the craziest stuff sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about socializing. But, for someone knee-deep in PHP while juggling support requests and e-mail… distractions are already plentiful.
Team meeting? Sure, I’ll drive in and take a seat at the table. Computer blew up? Of course I’ll be right there. Other than that, I’d rather sit at home with my slippers and put my two monitors to good use. I can eat from my fridge, take a break with my TV, and enjoy my house that I pay oh-so-much for to spend oh-so-little time in. Wow. Just writing this has improved my morale.
So, why don’t more employers let employees work from home? Can we not be trusted? Do we really need to sit near people to work? Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware of the benefits of working around people. Many jobs requires. But, to some extent I feel we do this because it’s always been this way…
The communications barriers are nearly eliminated. Skype can put my phone number in any city. Planes can land me in any country. Video can place me in any room.
I haven’t worked at any other desk job so this is all I know. It just seems that we should all be moving back home now. Our lives lack solitude because we rush from A to B to C back to A. Am I wrong? Would anyone care to enlighten me?