Norman Baker, the UK's Transport Minister, has outlined a consortium dedicated to getting more people working away from the office, for the good of the economy, and the planet. The "Anywhere Working" consortium is backed by big businesses, businesses who stand to make money from more remote working admittedly, but the unions are …
They make it sound like working remotely is hard
It isn't really. If I need to work from home, I do. I either take the (much improved, since employer) Dell From Hell home with me or I simply fire up the MacBook and get on with it. If the point of working from home isn't to avoid people, I even divert the desk phone to my mobile. No need for anything from Vodafone or office space from Regis.
Oddly, us Brits have some strange attitudes to working remotely. If I roll out of bed and dial into a meeting here, it would at least be frowned upon. When I work at our head office in the US, it's considered normal (which is good, because I'm not a morning person).
Remote working is hard
Odd individuals working some of the time remotely requires a bit of infrastructure. That's not difficult so long as it is by choice.
But you need a completely different organisational structure and management approach if the whole outfit is to work remotely. That is *completely*. Luckily it isn't difficult to understand as you will see by visiting http://vulpeculox.net/treems . By the way, the social and economic benefits are enormous.
They've got plenty of people signed up but what about workplace health and safety. I remember reading a article a while back on El Reg whereby someone was mooting the prospect that as you are working for your employer they could then be responsible for any accident that happened in your "workplace" even if it were because you tripped over shit that you'd thrown on the floor. Is that still the case?
It's not a new idea for many
I've worked for some of the bigger services companies (Fujitsu for one) where 'virtual' working is the norm: employees get laptops, there's no such thing as "your desk", and you can be working on a project with people from anywhere in the country (the world sometimes), meeting up face to face, but also working via email/phone/conference calls/remote access VPN with equal measure.
Of course it depends very much on the job, but when it works well it can definitely be a life-styleimprover! In fact it almost tempted me to go permie..! ;-)
We have all the VPN kit and it's brilliant
But management don't like us to use it (once a month's working from home has been mooted as the maximum). The main obstacle to overcome, as it has been for decades, is managers wanting to keep staff in sight and (apparently) under control.
Or work closer to home?
One of the first calculations I do when I get a call from a recruiter about a shiny new job, is how much it will cost me to get there and back. Anything over 15 miles means using the car (as opposed to cycling) and would require a hefty pay rise to even make it worth my while considering. Whats the point of taking a job that offers a few grand more just to spunk it all on petrol and waste my time sitting in traffic? I've started asking the recruiters if the prospective employer of said 'long distance' job can or will offer remote working for at least a few days a week.
Agreed - rocket science it ain't
Working for the lethargic beast that is a local authority, you'd be forgiven for thinking that remote working would be but a dream; something to be considered in another twenty years, after we've done things like move to Internet Explorer 7 and invested in some infrastructure that doesn't rely on pieces of string and tin cans.
Surprisingly, remote working is so straightforward, even my employer can offer it. In fact, it can even offer it without a cost implication, for straightforward roles, or if the role requires something a little more in-depth, a very modest cost.
We don't need serviced office space; we can drop into any Council office if needs be. The joy of tethering means that we don't need additional connectivity.
The benefits of remote working are, for many job roles, really very obvious. Quite why we, as a nation, haven't figured this out, or are too scared to embrace them, is beyond me. Cost needn't be an issue, nor should perceived complexities in making provision available.
Of course, I wouldn't want to work from home all the time; far too boring for someone who likes the odd bit of social interaction. That said, it makes the tea round easier and the toilets are always spotless, which is always a bonus...
Remote Working(UK) - The perils.
1) Not being able to suck up/lick the boots of your PHB.
2) No going down the PUb with the rest of the office after work
3) Not knowing the latest gossip about who is sleeping with whoom
- Being looked over for promotion(Luck b'ards to find this happening these days...)
- First up for Redundancy (the out of sight, out of mind, you mush be skiving off syndrome)
- Not being part of the Office banter so your internal networking (if you ever had it) falls appart
- Suffering from the 'Loneliness of the LongDistance Commuter' - viz being stuck in your home office esp at this time of year can make you depressed.
Need I go on.
Bring it on
1) I don't do that anyway
2) See 1
3) See 1 & 2
- I don't have to leave the job I'm most temperamentally suited for.
- Been here 11 years, seen many come and go. Just had a nice raise actually.
- Never had it.
- Lunch at my choice of pub with friends who are not colleagues - actually a proper break without any shop talk.
Need I go on?
Looking like a hobo
Yep, All those things, that's why more than two days a week at home would be my limit. I remember a particular contract I had a few years back meant I worked from home ALL the time. I think I went a little mad, never got out of my dressing gown, stopped shaving which really freaked the girlfriend out.
You have to turn up at the office sometimes if only to remember what other human beings look like and to have conversations with.
The kit isn't the issue...
... it's the companies policy that's usually the problem, that and some untrustworthy employees who will doss around all day not doing much giving the rest of us a bad name.
Personally I'm all for home working, I do it once a week and because I've agreed to to my set hours and no more at some point in the day I get to mix working a bit and playing with my son before he grows up too quick and isn't interested so much in his Dad.
Ah, The virtual Desk
On the face of it, not having a permanent desk is a wonderful idea for the bean counters. Less Office space, less car parking.
More lovely jubbly for them to syphon off for themselves.
Sadly, when this has been implemented, companies reduce their office space so that it is between 90-95% full with those who 'have to be in the office everyday'.
This means that if you are a remote worker and have to go into the office for a meeting, finding a car parking space and/or a 'hot desk' space for the day is pure pot luck. Those available will have gone to those who get into the office first.
I've seen plent of 'hot deskers' arrive so early they have to wake up the security guard to gain entrance to the building. Often they are only there for a meeting in the afternoon.
A sure way to get more than a days work out of those who have the temerity to work from home and dare to darken the office steps with their presence.
Our company offers it in extreme circumstances but most of the time it's frowned upon by management.
I simply can't trust myself not to be distracted though. It takes serious will power to sit in your own cosy surroundings and gives a Monkey's about the problems occurring 25 miles away, when you have Skyrim on the 360 and a stack of tunes in your music library!
I'd love to work from home but I know I would never get anything done, so it's probably for the best if I go in, ha ha!