Working From Home : Again

I just read this article on Wired.

I’ve written about my thoughts on working from home here, but I’m going to have a little rant…

I keep expressing my opinions in meetings, but I’m often countered by various points, which I think are flawed, but I want respond to here.

It’s not healthy to be remote all the time

I tell you what’s also not healthy. Making people go to the office when they don’t want to! Making people do crappy commutes that drain their souls. Making people waste several hours of their day, when they could be doing other things that more positively affect their wellbeing.

If people feel more healthy working from the office, they should work from the office. If they would prefer not to, they should be allowed to make that choice. You can’t use the “healthy” argument in favour of one stance and ignore the “healthy” argument for the other.

Some staff can’t work remotely

No shit Sherlock! I don’t expect an ER doctor to get approval to work from home when all the patients are waiting to be seen in the ER. If a job role is customer facing, then clearly working from home is not an option, but many people in organisations are not customer facing, myself being one of them.

Some people can’t work from home because they don’t have a suitable work space. Those people either have to work from the office, or move house to a place with a suitable work space. You can’t stop other people working from home because Billy lives in a bedsit with his wife and 3 kids…

We don’t want 100% remote work

Fine. I’ll come in for 1 hour a year. Thanks.

Having arbitrary quotas is wrong. It should be based on the person and the role. Remember, I’m not demanding you work from home. I’m saying I want to!

We need to bond as a team

I don’t touch people at work. My bonding is done equally well on a video call. If you want me to “bond with the team”, you can start off by getting rid of all the idiots I dislike, and the people who are not pulling their weight.

This argument is even more flawed when companies agree to working 2-3 days from home. Are you even going to see members of your team on the days you choose to be in? Does the whole team have to be in on the same days? How does that work with hot-desking and space saving? I think this is a weak argument.

We need to do workshops and brain storming meetings in person

Sometimes this is true. Sometimes it’s not. The vast majority of meetings are unproductive, with people wasting time walking between buildings to achieve nothing. It’s actually a lot more efficient to use tools like Zoom or Teams…

I don’t think many people would argue with coming into the office for a specific event if it actually added value, but that is not the same as discussing the same old rubbish for hours on end, that nobody is going to own or progress.

I’m also irritated by people complaining of back-to-back meetings with no breaks. Either don’t accept them, or switch to a 45 minute meeting format. You know you just spend the first 10 minutes waiting for people to turn up anyway. This is another example of a dysfunctional business practice being used to argue the point.

People are scared from a health perspective of returning to the office, we need to show them it is ok

Is anyone else thinking of the scene in Jaws where the Mayor is forcing people into the water to “prove” it is safe? In my company we’ve had several “back to the office” pushes, that have ultimately been cancelled due to new lockdown restrictions. I am not surprised people are worried. I believe they should be.

Me not being in the office makes the office a safer place, because there is one less person who could transmit a virus. I’m happy to work from home, so there is no need to thank me for the service I’m am doing to office health!

People will be lazy

Well, the evidence seems to counter that argument. My own boss has seen an uptick in productivity since we’ve worked from home. So you want us to come back to the office so our team can get less work done?

I covered the flaws in this argument in this post. Suffice to say, if a manager thinks this, it just shows they are a rubbish manager, who manages by presence checking, not actual work done. Grow up!

Conclusion

I know I’m going to get some responses from people saying their preferences, and I would just like you to remember, they are “your preferences”! I would just like to reiterate the following.

  • These are my opinions.
  • I am not forcing everyone to work from home. I am pro-choice in this matter.
  • If you think differently, that is fine, but it doesn’t negate my feelings on this matter!

Cheers

Tim…

Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

6 thoughts on “Working From Home : Again”

  1. I agree with the “Grow up!” statement. If you can’t trust your employees to do their work, how can you trust them to be in your systems and not doing things that they are not suppose to be doing?

  2. ‘If you want me to “bond with the team”, you can start off by getting rid of all the idiots I dislike, and the people who are not pulling their weight.’
    You should have warned me – I was drinking coffee!

    Couldn’t agree more with you. I also know that some people are lazy and don’t do the work when working from home. Easy solution – get rid of them and pay the short term price for a better team in the long run. I’m not sure why management for some reason don’t like to actually manage.

    Meetings are too often an excuse for chat (which does have a place). Formal meetings (i.e. scheduled) with more than 2 people should have agendas and actions agreed at the end. Otherwise it was just a chat. Maybe we should call them ‘chat’ or ‘catchup’ in those situations.

  3. Eric: Exactly. Why do you employ people you don’t trust. Most of us end up doing more work at home, because we don’t want to be seen as a slacker.

    Gelnm: I’m sorry. I’m sending you good vibes while you clean up your coffee spill. 😉

  4. Well said, Tim. Personally, I would prefer a mix of home/remote. But, this pandemic has demonstrated that it is possible, in most fields, for everybody to be remote all the time. So, the burden of proof should surely now be on anyone insisting on office attendance.

    I do however feel sympathy for anyone starting a new job (particularly if they are young/inexperienced) if all their colleagues are remote.

  5. Recently joined a company with a number of my Enkitec brothers and sisters and we’ve been working a “hybrid” model for years – I put that in quotes because 95% of the time we’re not going into data centres and have been very effective without setting foot in a client office. Those occasions we have stuck a toe in the door, we’ve been happy to do so.

    Sometimes I miss the personal interaction from friends (colleagues) and clients with whom we share a common bond – the late night deployments, patch cycles and crisis war rooms where they lock the door and stuff pizza through the gap.

    But video conferencing has matured so much lately that I’ve been able to cement longer lasting bonds with people I’ve never met and as always, that common bond keeps us connected – to the extent that we have offline personal phone calls even after the project is over and I’ve moved on to a new client.

    Of course for me personally, I’ve enjoyed the almost two years without a cold which has been one huge benefit.

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