Thoughts on a cold day... why do we have an office?
It seems to be well known that 1cm of snow is enough to bring certain cities to a halt. I work in and around London a lot of the time, where it snowed this weekend. A few years ago I would have struggled into the office, met with colleagues, and shared stories about our 'challenging' journeys. Then we would have gone about our business, holding meetings and so on.
This morning I took one look at the icy roads and decided against the struggle. Why? Because all of the meetings I have scheduled for today are online so I wouldn't have been physically meeting any of the people I'm actively working with today.
So, why go to an office at all? I sat and thought about this over lunch (with my wife, at home...very nice) and decided to ask our readership to comment
For me, I find that just talking to people face to face about what they're up to stimulates me to think about new ways to approach my own challenges and I also like to be able to help colleagues with their own problems. The chance conversations you have in an office, don't happen online.
Why do you have an office?
February 12, 2012KateKatie that's really interesting about the Telework Act. I wonder if there's something similar in other countries? Anyone know?
February 10, 2012I've been fortunate enough to increasingly work remotely for about 10 years, and it's made it easier to balance personal and work life, as well as avoid 1.5 hours or more a day commuting. I have a local office I can visit from time to time, which gives some sense of community from work as well as access to IT help & a telepresence room. Flexible working is a privilege, though, and it's really at the discretion of the business.
In 2010 the U.S. passed the Telework Enhancement Act, partially in response to government closures due to weather during the winter of 2009-2010, when the U.S. government offices in the Washington DC area were closed for an entire week. Their Office of Personnel Management has a whole website, www.telework.gov, dedicated to encourage managers and employees to telework. If a government is encouraging flexible working, I think the trend is here to stay!
February 9, 2012Bill StewartPeter, Nice to see you made the decision to stay home. I hear the weather is frightful. Maybe next time you are in ATL we can get together. Regards
February 8, 2012Hana RahmatallaI worked for four years at the Cairo MSC, three years of which I was on a teleworking contract. This was fantastic and truly gave me the flexibility and the perfect work/life balance. We had many teleworkers and all had great performance at work and true dedication to the organisation. A year ago, the new country manager at the time, decided to cancel all teleworking contracts, and we all had to be back at the office, no exceptions. He claimed the reason being was there was plenty of office space, and so he wanted everyone at the office. My customers and colleagues at the time were based in Belgium and being in the office made no difference to my daily work. Due to the long hours away from my home and family, I was forced to resign from Orange, along with many other colleagues.
February 8, 2012I think there's a lot to be said for...both. After weeks cooped up in my home office, with nothing but a lot of conf calls, emails, and large chunks of uninterrupted time for my projects, I start longing for other adults I can converse with about work, or even about the weather. I even look forward to a commute! That doesn't usually last long, though, because the lack of daily commute is a huge, huge plus to home working.
More time with family is also a plus, but it can also be a drain: try concentrating on your tasks when you have a 15 year old who's just come home from school with a broken heart. Of course, it's great to 'be there for her', but you'd better not be on a deadline. In fact, it's this constant shuffling between work and non-work, public and private, that sometimes has me longing for an office, which in the end is a physical representation of clearer boundaries. But at the same time, this ability to shift between the spheres at will is also one of the reasons I'm still at home.