Featured Poll: Does Working from Home Work for You?

May 13, 2013
Telecommuting: Sometimes home is where the mind is.

I start my work day at around 5 a.m. and, after a little personal quiet time, my commute takes me from the bedroom, through the kitchen where I turn on the coffee maker (prepped the night before) and proceed down the uncongested hallway to my fully equipped office where I sit in a chair selected by me to fit my bottom. At some point I might have a piece of leftover home-made quiche and another mug of fresh ground coffee and resume writing, reading, surfing or just thinking. Around 8 a.m., before the calls and emails get too active, I'll either go down in my basement and ride the exercise bike while I catch up on the news or, depending on the day, drive 10 minutes to the city recreational center and take a water aerobics class. Then, when I return to my desk I'm ready to take on the more social time of my workday. Make some calls, check emails, make progress on the in-basket – all the process stuff that must be done. But my most creative and productive time, the time spent doing what I get kudos for accomplishing, is during those early, dark and quiet hours.

I'm what some call a lark." Active and alert in the early morning and not what you'd call Mr. Excitement after 9 p.m.. All told, I'm an ideal candidate for telecommuting, which I've been doing for over 10 years. Prior to that I did the 8 to 5 routine in a traditional office setting. Ironically, when I had a company office I can remember trying to find some place where I could hide from phones and Outlook dings just so I could think – particularly on those tasks that required a lot of analysis. Of course, there are those times when I need to bounce some ideas around or get advice, or maybe just shoot the baloney. So I make a call or two. Take a break. Go for a walk. Then there's my secret stash – one of my banjos usually sits in a stand by my desk. A few sets of some old-time Appalachian or Celtic tunes, and before my wife escapes to a prolonged shopping trip, I'm ready to focus on work again.

The point is, I'm more productive and enjoy my job more because I have some degree of control over my work environment. Apparently many others experience those benefits also and telecommuting has been a growing trend, particularly within the high tech industry. That's why we were all surprised that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer put the kibosh on flexible working hours and telecommuting. The Los Angeles Times reported: "To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices," Jackie Reses, Yahoo's human resources chief, wrote in the memo sent out Friday. "Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together."

Micromanaging an individual's work environment is silly. In my experience, if "speed and quality" is important to the worker, they'll perform well regardless of office location. If it's not, they won't, and maybe the best solution is to micromanage them right out the door.

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