Sunday, November 18, 2007

They do actually telecommute here

Stella is pleased to note that there are one or two telecommuters in her new Real Office. She is also sad to report that it turns out to be the worst kind of telecommuting. Yes, that's right, these folks are doing the "mommy telecommute". Our full-time telecommuting part-time worker doesn't keep routine hours, doesn't have a dedicated phone line that is business-only, doesn't use IM, and is often minding her two small children while working. (Actually, minding two small children while also trying to conduct non-child related work is more than working. It's just not effective working.) It seems to me that, in fact, her tasks are well-suited to remote work, but if it were my call, I'd insist on the things that make remote work work well for the people who are left holding down the fort, as it were. As it is, it's frustrating to everyone in the office.

What would I change?

1. Regular business hours: The people in the Real Office need to know when they can call and know that they won't be disturbing naptime. Everyone understands that you're working at home with small children, and nobody wants to be the jerk who calls just as the baby is drifting off. Help us out by telling us, "Hey, I'm always working between 8-10:30 on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday."

2. Two Letters - IM: No human being can work off-site without making nearly constant use of instant messaging. I've now managed to get the whole Real Office using the IM amongst ourselves, and will be working with the telecommuter to do the same. That way, we'll be able to see her pop on the system, and know that she's botherable. It's absolutely critical.

3. Tell us what you're doing: I'm not sure what exactly this person actually does. I know she produces some stuff, but I find that she's often doing things that would inform what I'm doing, and I have NO idea. This means that you, as the telecommuter, need to initiate the conversation to tell me what is going on, make an extraordinary effort to show up at staff meetings, and the like. It's not fair that you have to go the extra mile, but that's the price you pay for working in your slippers.

I have an ulterior motive for making the telecommuter more effective and easier to work with. See, if I can make her work a success, that means maybe I can do it to, at least one or two days a week. I'm not as altruistic as I seem.

Surprise, surprise.

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