Monday, January 21, 2008

In Order to Measure the Impact of Telecommuting've got to be measuring productivity in the first place. Yes, this brilliant thought occurred to me as I re-read the Mavericks @ Work article. It's completely obvious, I know, but also true. How does Best Buy know that productivity in the ROWE scheme has gone up 35%? They were already measuring the stuff that is important to them.

This actually seems kind of hard to me when I think about the kinds of things I have done in my work. I think that people would notice if I did absolutely nothing while working remotely, but measuring incremental improvements in performance seems like a challenge. If you're working on long-term and somewhat nebulous projects, months may pass before you have actual deliverables. If you hit your posts, are you being productive? Well, probably, but are you also wasting a lot of time that you could be using to do other, even greater things? Maybe. Who knows.

So this is where managers start relying on face time, perhaps. And it's where studies of telecommuting break down into feelings, as in, "I just feel more productive. I sense that I'm getting so much more done."

But coming up with quantifiable ways to prove this is one of the challenges of the telecommuter. It's probably something each person has to do with his or her actual job -- find the things you do that are measurable, and then make sure that your manager tells you how much she wants of those things and how she'd like to hear about how you're accomplishing them.

Oh, and then you have to actually work, too. It's not all slippers and coffee shops my friends.

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