Wednesday, June 28, 2017

LinkedIn Life: "Tell Me Why We Commute Again?"

"The issue of telecommuting I find cute, removed, and academic. The reason why is because I work from home and I largely view telecommuting to be for the sheep and the shepherds that employ them. But as I approach my now 9th year since my last appearance in rush hour traffic, I'm so far removed from it that I see a commute much like an abused wife sees her ex-husband for the irrational, damaging, and ultimately pointless waste that he is. The only question I have is:
Why do you guys commute?"


Anonymous said...

Rent a dirt cheap meeting room. Convene once a week from like 10-2 (so that the employees can arrive and avoid rush hour). Make sure everyone is on the same page to push forward. Do so.

There's value to in person dialogue, but you don't need it every waking moment you're in the office. You need it maybe 10%? So 4 hours of a work week sounds right. It's not like white collar workers are cranking all 8 hours anyway.

As for tracking to see if work is being done, well, that's easy. You assign your software developers and data scientists and whatever the hell I am (some half and half thing) tasks. Are those tasks done? Does it meet specs? If yes, congrats, you've completed work! If a boss really can't tell if you're working or not based on your deliverables, then your boss is either a total moron, or you can safely say that you lack job security.

Right now, I still work in an office (and it's somewhat understandable when you work for a startup and have a whole host of random issues to deal with, and you're usually dealing with better people anyway because they actually have to produce to survive), but intend to eventually move into some remote work; whether it's as a contractor/consultant or as an employee.

My commute isn't even bad (I live a few miles from downtown, so 30 min), but from wake up to sit down on the couch is 13+ hours every day. How's that for work/life balance? How's someone w/ a legitimate career supposed to pursue social activities like meeting women (outside of the brutality of online dating) if you're spending all of your free time either running errands or recovering from the work day?

And with populations rising and roads not being built, it's only going to keep getting worse. It's already completely common for residents to commute from SOUTH of Providence, RI to get to work in Boston, as workers keep getting shoved out further and further from the city center. Wouldn't be shocked to find out white collar workers blow 30 extra days a year worth of time with work + commuting than those "lower class" blue collar guys. Maybe the Trump voting plumber isn't stupid after all!

Anonymous said...

Because the real jobs that hold society together require actually getting up off your lazy fat ass and going out into the world. It's the meatspace jobs that facilitate your cyberspace pretend bullshit. No meatspace world, no cyberspace for Captian Crappy pants to dance around in.

Aaron said...

I don't mind my commute. It's 15 minutes, mostly at speed, and I do it on a Harley most of the year. The space between work and home is a good time for me to compartmentalize my day, and get into the appropriate mindset for where I'm going to be.

Then again, I also have five kids, ages 3-11 living at home. There tend to be ... distractions when I try working from home.

That said, I used to have a two hour commute. That was a miserable hell, and one of the big reasons for changing jobs and states.

David Jravis said...

Somebody's jealous...

Fatebekind said...

Another take on the effect of telecommuting from the NY Post:

Blackwing1 said...

Captain, I may have to respectfully disagree on some of the details regarding the usefulness of having people in the same physical space.

I'm a design engineer (tail-end boomer with multiple decades of experience) working for a MegaCorp division. We build stuff that improves the output from power plants by increasing its efficiency (and sorry, Nonny-Mouse #2, while every single thing I do is in cyberspace, it ends up being meatspace nuts-and-bolts hardware that the metal-benders and welders have build following our "drawings").

Where I disagree is in the interactions that occur in our cube-farm that couldn't (or at least, don't) happen in cyberspace. The commentary back-and-forth, the sketching on paper and flipping ideas back and forth, is darned near impossible to do even when real-time video meetings are used with interactive boards for sketching. There's simply something that's lost in not having people together.

This is analogous to the differences we've found when checking design drawings for errors. When people use an electronic version of the drawing (not the model, but the drawing) the rate of un-found errors is a least 10 times that of when actual, physical drawings are checked. For whatever reason the number of errors is simply much higher. While we now take drawings directly from the design software and import it into the documentation system, it still goes through a paper phase in which it is checked, simply because we find vastly more errors that way.
Personally I think it comes from the fact that looking at a screen, whether hand-held smart phone, computer monitor, or the ginormous idiot-screen of a TV) has led to people simply not paying close, accurate attention to what they're doing.

Similarly, I believe (unsupported by facts) that there can be an advantage to having meat-space gathering of groups for this kind of decision-making. How much time is needed? I'm not sure...maybe 1/3rd of the total work-time might be necessary to get everybody on the same frequency and executing projects well.

But I'll agree that the rest of it does NOT need to be done in the same physical space. I can mark-up drawings for correction and send them to a designer for changes without needing to be in the same state, much less the same room or city.

Maybe I'm just picking a nit here, but I do believe that there are some advantages in face-to-face time for groups in which the individuals are working toward a common goal. All the time, no, but at least some of the time.