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Will Telecommuting Kill a Career? 247

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the face-to-cheek-time dept.
coondoggie writes to mention that Network World has a piece taking a look at the effects of the telecommute on advancement within your career. From the article: "Over 60% of 1,320 global executives surveyed by executive search firm Korn/Ferry International said they believe that telecommuters are less likely to advance in their careers in comparison to employees working in traditional office settings. Company executives want face time with their employees, the study said."
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Will Telecommuting Kill a Career?

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  • First Post? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Agronomist Cowherd (948449) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:30PM (#17654322)
    Tele-commuting didn't kill my career. Slashdot killed my career!
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:31PM (#17654344) Homepage Journal
    Whilst it might slow down your progress if your goal (at that point) is progressing, it might actually be the intended target.

    Getting to handle home life and work life and having time to relax and be yourself in the evenings might just be the drug some people seek.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:47PM (#17654734)
      I telecommute, as well as doing contract work - often for people I have never seen, which is extreme telecommuting. I have been offered management positions but I have turned them down, opartly because I don';t want to be a manager and also partly because I believe you can't manage effectively if you are remote from most workers. If you consider management as progress, then yes it should be a problem. I think you need to be in the office every day to be an effective manager (management by walking around and all that).

      If you're a pure-play techie, then it does not matter. What does "progress" mean to a techie? It means being taken more seriously and doing more technical leadership stuff (architectural etc). In these positions I don't see that telecommuting poses any problems.

      • by AuMatar (183847) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @06:19PM (#17655356)
        Eh, I'd say being able to hold a whiteboard conversation with ones peers is extremely convenient. Or the ability to talk to the guy who wrote the code you're fixing right now, rather than wait a few hours on an email. Or show someone a bug in person, to show how its happening. You don't need to be in the office 9-5 daily, but a half days overlap 2 or 3 days a week is very helpful.
        • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @07:05PM (#17656014) Journal
          I'm not telecommuting at the moment, and living fairly close to the office, I'm not really trying to anyway, but... somehow I'm not seeing that as so critical. I have co-workers who are here 3 days a week, and, honestly, there are whole weeks when they're hardly actually needed. You'll want _some_ face time, but I'm not sure that even 2-3 days a week are necessary every week.

          Going around and asking in person only works that well for a small company anyway. For example here I ended up maintaining the truly awful code of someone whose office is now at the other end of the city. If I wanted to talk to him, I'd have to set an appointment and drive there, which probably isn't any better from the office than from home. In fact, from home I'd actually be closer to his office.

          Half the time we _do_ use email anyway, and the other half we just reach for the phone. Why wouldn't it work just as well from home? And since everything is in the same CVS, if you need any clarifications, you can just tell the other guy which project, file and function or line number you're interested in. Having to actually go to another department and ask in person is person is more the exception when phone and email failed, rather than having a permanent exodus of people going to paint something on other people's whiteboards.

          Ditto for guys whose code we use, or guys using our code. Heck, some of the frameworks I've had to work with were from companies not even in the same city, or the same country altogether. Some of the guys whose code is being maintained don't even work here any more.

          All in all, while I don't deny that sometimes it _is_ an advantage, I see more value in having good and clearly defined architectures and interfaces. That will keep serving you well even when the whole original team moved on to other jobs. It's not a theoretical situation, we actually have one framework here where that's exactly what happened over time.

          And when they didn't yet, knowing (or having a way to find out quickly) who to phone or email if you have questions. If the architecture and interfaces are well designed and documented, and you have competent people at both ends of the line, chances are there won't be a whole tome of an explanation you need, so telephone and email work just as well. And when someone new to it needs a more thorough crash course, an appointment can be arranged... which is exactly what we're doing right now anyway, even without telecommuting.
          • by Original Replica (908688) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @09:06PM (#17657494) Journal
            there are whole weeks when they're hardly actually needed.

            So, they can be outsourced no problem, right? That might interfere with their advancement.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Moraelin (679338)
              Technically each of us could be outsourced, no problem, even the ones who don't telecommute. That's pretty much a normal implication of having an architecture, interfaces and code that are easy to understand and maintain. If they can give your code to someone else to maintain after you've been run over by a truck, they can give your code to someone else to maintain when you haven't. If someone can maintain your code after you've moved to another job, without having to track you down for a whiteboard discuss
        • by timeOday (582209)
          There's truth to what you say, but the growth in bandwidth does seem to help. Recently a guy was helping me with a design and got snowed in. I set it up so we could share a desktop (VNC), and that plus speakerphone kept us pretty productive. In fact working in small (2-3 person) groups has really grown on me, and my favorite way to do that is for everybody to be in the same (physical) room, each with a laptop, sharing a workspace. Nobody "owns" the workspace, it is shared and editable by all, in fact I
        • by WedgeTalon (823522) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:20AM (#17659142)
          Ok, just from the top of my head or a quick google:

          Shared Whiteboard: http://www.imaginationcubed.com/LaunchPage [imaginationcubed.com]
          Talk to the guy: Skype / IM / regular telephone
          Demonstrate a computer environment: VNC / http://www.crossloop.com/ [crossloop.com] / https://www.iremotepc.com/ [iremotepc.com] / many more

          And as for other things like calendar and task management - there's a deluge of those.

          Anything else? The internet has most likely got it covered! Face-to-face time is only really needed these days for those who get some sort of warm, fuzzy reassurance from it.
          • >Face-to-face time is only really needed these
            >days for those who get some sort of warm, fuzzy
            >reassurance from it.

            It's still not the same.

            Now, I do have some experience "telecommuting" ... I've worked remotely for weeks at a time from home and from foreign countries (while traveling for adoption, during family illnesses and tragedies, etc.). And I do freelance web programming on the side which is *all* remote. So I'm not speaking from total ignorance and inexperience here. I work pretty effecti
      • by Fordiman (689627) <fordiman@gMONETmail.com minus painter> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @06:53PM (#17655878) Homepage Journal
        Well, that may be true, but straw man is straw man; your personal account includes variables that can't be accounted for.

        What I mean is this: Using a game-statistical model, with various directions of advancement, and attributes like skill, office presence (ie: not telecommuting), charisma, and such, it may be provable that, all other things being equal, having an office presence provides social connectivity, allowing the player to advance more easily in his chosen direction.

        In cases where the player's other stats are higher, this may be irrelevant - he is more able to move on his own merit, and thus doesn't need the 'social grease'. Additionally, it may be showable that having a periodic office presence has significant advantages over having none, but a continuous office presence may have little advantage over a periodic one.

        Of course, the game dynamic changes for a contractor versus a firm-static employee; the contracter lives more on reputation than on social contact, and thus has little need for face-to-face meetings. Meanwhile, the firm-static employee's advancement is eased by the ability to personally impress his superiors and coworkers - his good reputation is formed from good social interaction.

        Moving further on, the impact of an office presence on a player's career would be inversely related to the percent of the firm that telecommutes - ie: the greater number of people without an office presence, the less likely it would be that having none would impact an individual's career. People would be used to it, and would very likely have a greater capacity for forming social contacts and personal respect for others via e-mail, phone, or other remote communication means.

        So, will telecommuting kill your career? If you're good at what you do, not likely. If it's only most of the time, not likely. If you're a contracter and not an employee, not likely. If your firm is primarily telecommuted, not likely.

        You, my good man, appear to be all three, so I'd say your 'player' would lay in a boundary condition in this 'game'. I don't mean to invalidate your position and experience, but to generalize a system and perhaps explain your relative position in it - that is, creating an statistical game doesn't bear directly on reality, but serves only to direct research and hypothesis (which in turn refine the game).

        Does any of that sound about right?
        • It seems to me that:

          1. Your whole game theory application starts at "it may be provable that, all other things being equal, having an office presence provides social connectivity, allowing the player to advance more easily in his chosen direction" (my emphasis), and then proceeds to build something that sounds suspiciously like certainties on it. It's as if "may be provable" turned into "already proven" somewhere along the way, and I don't see any such proof. If something only " may be provable", but isn't
          • by Fordiman (689627) <fordiman@gMONETmail.com minus painter> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @10:51PM (#17658494) Homepage Journal
            '1. It's as if "may be provable" turned into "already proven" somewhere along the way, and I don't see any such proof. '

            Sorry, mate. This isn't academia, it's slashdot ^_^. I wrote that off the top of my head as a hypothetical model, not an implementable one. IE: you're trying to run pseudocode directly on hardware. Of course nothing in the statement assumes that things are proven. Should be a given in a hypothetical model. Especially one that states it, as you say, at the start.

            'Topic: Not necessarily a straw man'

            Assuming you're refering to what I called a straw man in the first pgph of my post, of course it's a straw man; it's a statement of subjective experience placed out as evidence to the contrary of a position. There's nothing wrong with it being a straw man argument, just that this case may or may not be a border condition, depending on the results of actual research.

            '...pretty much means that you found one axis that is completely independent from the others, and you can maximize without touching the others, which tends to never be true.'

            Granted, but that's how the model starts; constraints and such are added as the game is fleshed out with empirical data. Note that I said in no less than two places that it's the beginning of a model in which I hypothesized that it may be a border condition, not that I promoted such a thing as fact.

            'As you undoubtedly know, min-maxing in an optimal solution in pretty much any space _can_, in fact, reduce the value on one axis, to gain more on another that matters more.'

            Pretty 20-20 obvious, and thank you for positing it. Still, you'll note that it is far easier, in a work setting, to quip a joke or discuss a small matter with your co-workers if they're actually in the room with you, ie: you don't have to take time away from typing code to type an IM or email. You're right, though; there are limits to a person's multitasking ability, and only so many hours in the day. That should be reflected in the game.

            "There are problems and factors which you seem to not even consider at all ... Quality of life, for example, is something that [is achieved] by knowing when to ... just have a life."

            Very true, but harder to quantify. Should I have determined QoL via hours of free time? How about an inverse coefficient based on commuting time? I'm not being sarcastic, just throwing out examples; what do you think the best quantification of QoL would be?

            "As with any other min-maxing problem, you have to reduce X to get more on Y and Z, or reduce Y to get more of the other two."

            As you stated before, the model is 'ill-defined', or as I like to say, 'green'. Exchanges such as this, and empirical research are needed to refine the model. The purpose of a green model is just to give ideas about how a system works, not to rigidly define it.

            "Two solutions to two different problems can end up _very_ different ... I don't think you can automatically assume that if one is better served by more networking, the other will too."

            True, but that's the purpose of using game theory for such a model. Notice I didn't use 'advancement', but 'movement' in my original post. The idea is to determine whether the player is more able to change his position in the environment based on a number of variables, some or all of which may or may not be connected.

            "For example, it seems to me that being a good programmer (and having a boss who can actually judge that) is alone very much enough."

            Absolutely true! But I'll give you an example using a real game: Final Fantasy. It's equally possible to defeat a given monster if you're uber strong or uber magical, but it's also possible to do so if your character is well balanced. Similarly, it may be possible that the ability to network somewhat well can make up for, for example, being a merely mediocre coder. If that were the case, it may be the reason for the existence of so many mediocre programm
      • I think you need to be in the office every day to be an effective manager (management by walking around and all that).

        Isn't the logical corollary that you need to be in the office to be effectively managed, too? After all, what good is it for that manager to be walking around an empty office?

      • Yes and no. If you are working on a project by yourself, the sort of size most of us like then great work from home. If you are on a larger project where you are actually designing and working with others then the most effective way of doing that is face to face. Sure, once you hit management you are expected in the office permanently but those who purely work from home will be less likely to be given lead roles or even collaborative roles on larger projects.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SnowZero (92219)
      One thing to remember is that you can do both telecommuting and traditional office work in a given week, and thus achieve whatever balance you want of advancement-vs-convenience. I know some people who telecommute two or three days a week, giving them a fairly flexible work week, but still allowing time for normal meetings and face-time at the office. Obviously this won't work if you're telecommuting across states, but its a good way for local employees to not waste as much time commuting.
    • by Bamafan77 (565893)

      Whilst it might slow down your progress if your goal (at that point) is progressing, it might actually be the intended target.

      I think the very notion of "career progression" is changing these days. It used to be that an employer was expected to coddle you for 40 years as you "waited your turn" and slowly advanced up the ranks. Telecommuting of course would kill your "advancement" in this environment.

      Nowadays, employers routinely slash&burn and rehire as needed. Assuming you don't actually need to

    • by asliarun (636603) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @06:00PM (#17655008)
      I have a slightly different view on this, and not necessarily the opposite of yours. I actually LIKE the fact that my work life is clearly separated from my personal life. My previous job gave me a laptop, free home connectivity, and official permission to "work from home" a day a week. My new job has given me a workstation. Surprisingly, I'm enjoying the fact that I don't carry my work (laptop) home every day (even if I wouldn't have opened my laptop at home). It enables me to mentally "switch off" the instant I leave my office. So, even though I end up working slightly longer hours, I'm mentally at work ONLY when I'm physically at work.

      Best of all, the fact that I cannot "work from home" forces me to be extra disciplined during my work-day, and I make sure that I prioritize my tasks and complete all my important tasks before I head for home. Admittedly, this is a generalization and may not be true for everyone, but it works for me.

      Conversely, if I went back home at 6 sharp (because I had the ability to carry my work home) and still had some pending work for the day, I would never be able to truly unwind at home until the pending work has been completed. A beer tastes way better when you're tired and satisfied.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hoover (3292)
        Conversely, if I went back home at 6 sharp (because I had the ability to carry my work home) and still had some pending work for the day, I would never be able to truly unwind at home until the pending work has been completed. A beer tastes way better when you're tired and satisfied.

        Nothing beats a good physical workout after a day in the office, be it cycling home from work, Karate or even sex (I know, this is /. ;-)

      • by n6kuy (172098) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @07:23PM (#17656280)
        You get to unwind when you get home?

        Buddy, you must not have a wife and kids!
        They're more demanding than the work environment.
        My office is my sanctuary.
    • by vought (160908)
      Corn Fairy International also reports that moving to a backwards-ass city that claims to want to attract and rtain technical professionals [wikipedia.org] will also kill your career.

      So, is it the telecommuting, or the environment? Being in the office is the best way to further your career by networking with professionals in your field. Telecommuting is also viewed by many in this part of the country as a copout - that telecommuting isn't "real work". Seriously - I've been asked in interviews by "serious" [iem.com] companies here wh
      • by Moraelin (679338)
        I think it's not entirely surprising, and here's why:

        I've worked with good managers, but I've also met at least one person whose idea of management was showing everyone who's the boss, full time. He seemed to have some deep seated belief that _noone_ and _nothing_ works unless you keep reminding them that you're watching them. He literally used to keep clicking on Netscape's title bar (this was in the 90's) to show Netscape that he's watching it. He actually believed that Netscape actually loads a page fast
    • It does me. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @06:19PM (#17655364) Homepage Journal
      Liquid is right. Maybe some of us are less concerned about "advancing" than having time with our families and a high quality of life.

      I can't exactly put my finger on the day and time I decided I didn't need to "move up" any more, but let me tell you, it was a liberating moment.

      The funniest part of it is that immediately after the first time I turned down a "promotion" because I felt satisfied with my life as it was, coincided directly with the really good opportunities showing up. It almost seems like happiness and satisfaction are qualities that draw success. Instead of running after success, if you reach a point where you're not quite so hungry, so desperate, success starts coming after you, instead.

      I've seen what ambitious, driven people look like. Take someone like Dick Cheney for example. Here's a guy who clawed his way to the top, literally. He's worked his way to a level of wealth and power most people only dream of, and his face is like a road-map of pain and desperation. I wouldn't want to be inside his head on the day he shuffles off this earth.
      • Look at any politician and you see the same look. Think Blair is happy guy, how about Putin or Rice. They're all so far gone it's sad. It's one of the reasons I believe so much in karma. They fought all their lives to get into this position and now they find out they don't like it, but best of all they're incapable of letting go. So like crazed children they run round trying to be in charge only to find out they're really is no way to be in charge only the illusion of power is available.

        It's like the p
      • by tacokill (531275)
        I wouldn't want to be inside his head on the day he shuffles off this earth.

        Why? Cheney probably thinks he did just fine. Hell, even Al Capone still thought he'd done nothing wrong when he died in prison. People are that way. EVERYONE tends to think they are doing "the right thing". Some are correct. Some are wrong. :-) Either way, most people don't walk around knowing - deep down inside - that they are "bad". It just doesn't happen that way.

        Evil (if it exists) and "bad" people are much more
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by PopeRatzo (965947)
          I don't think Cheney is going to be lying on his deathbed thinking of the terrible things in his life. Rather, he will look back and think "imagine how bad it would have been without me?"

          I think he'll be thinking with regret about all the babies whose blood he didn't get to drink.

          I mean, check google images and take a close look at the man. The Japanese invented the word "sanpaku" for him.
    • having time to relax and be yourself in the evenings might just be the drug some people seek.

      Indeed, it was for me, and that's why I was very pleased with the change when I switched from a 100% telecommuting job to a regular office job with no telecommuting.

      When I was working at home, I'd take my time and often take an hour or two break to go shopping or do laundry or something during the day, meaning I was often working until 9:00pm. As a result, there was not a very good dividing line between work

  • Of course... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rrohbeck (944847) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:32PM (#17654372)
    if you're just a voice on concalls and a name on emails, what do you expect?
    You got to have at least some face time.
  • Duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by r_jensen11 (598210)
    It's obvious that telecommutting kills job prospects if you want to move up the corporate ladder. If you telecommute, it becomes increasingly more difficult to prove to your superiors at work that you should belong in management. It doesn't matter which branch of the company you are in; if you can't prove you can belong in management, you're going to get stuck somewhere along the way.
    • by ranton (36917)
      It is just that it is hard to prove yourself. I would think that the biggest problem is that you simply arent as well known by your boss. You have less chances to make an impression, or get on your boss's good side. Your boss might barely even remember your name. Or you might be thought of as a consultant instead of as an employee.

      Telecommuting seams good if all you need is a pay check. But if you want to build a career I find it hard to believe that telecommuting is the way to go.

      --
    • by Ucklak (755284)
      The question is what is your personal goal?
      Where does the weight tip in your personal life of home life over corporate ladder?

      I work from home. I don't have to deal with traffic or bad weather. I probably work longer being that my office is readily available but that doesn't bother me. I get to see my kids in the morning, for lunch, and for dinner. Before telecommuting, I only saw them right at dinner. For me, telecommuting is a win-win.

      What is missed from commuting is the errands that can be run whilst
    • by thpr (786837)
      Obvious at first glance, perhaps. It all depends on the company. Would I telecommunicate if I worked at Google? Heck, no. I'd be at Google HQ. But there are other companies that are so geographically diverse that it's hard to know where it's valuable to be physically located.

      Besides, it's not only telecommuters but those of us with remote managers that face these types of challenges.

      I haven't had a local manager since 2000.

      Has it hurt me relative to others overall? Perhaps. ...but it hasn't hurt

  • Independance (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:33PM (#17654400) Journal
    Its really about weighing your opportunities. Sure if you telecommute your chances of promotion within your company are much lower. But a telecommuter is more of an independent agent anyways. If your telecommuting you can work multiple jobs much easier. Don't consider yourself tied to that one employer, consider yourself a free agent, even if your not..
  • by Grendel Drago (41496) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:35PM (#17654452) Homepage
    This is a study? It's an opinion poll! Unless it's a longitudinal study comparing workers who elected to telecommute against those in similar positions who didn't, it's not an answer to the question posed in the article's title. Since when have executives been a reliable source for hard data of this kind? I know we sort of canonize the executive class in this country, but this is ridiculous...
    • I don't think you really need to waste a lot of time on involved studies on this one. Someone who telecommutes, regardless of the reason, sends the message that while they care about the paycheck, they put where they live ahead of the company. They might do a good job, and there might be respect, but are you really going to promote somebody you know well via email versus somebody who comes into your office everyday?
      • by Ironica (124657)

        Someone who telecommutes, regardless of the reason, sends the message that while they care about the paycheck, they put where they live ahead of the company.

        Most people actually put where they live ahead of the company. Proximity to work location ranks no higher than ninth when surveying people on how they choose a residence location. They care way, way more about local traffic, schools, local businesses, and so on. (Sorry I don't have a link on this; this data was presented in a class lecture for Urban

      • by profplump (309017)
        First, telecommute != physically distant from office. I come in to the office most days, but I also telecommute on a fairly regular basis. They aren't mutually exclusive.

        Second, many if not most people put where they live ahead of their company. If your company announced tomorrow that it was moving all of its office across the country, do you really think everyone would pick up and move? Conversely, if I apply for a job with the intention of telecommuting, I am demonstrating a preference for that company ov
        • Finally, if I can get more done from home than my peers can in the office, why would you promote them instead of me? I don't know about other people, but I'm actually more productive at home than I am in the office.

          Because, like most regular managers, they don't measure your worth by the number of high value tasks or projects that you complete on or ahead of time, they like to see you banging away on your keyboard. Doesn't matter if you're paying bills on your online checking account, looking for a car part on Ebay or actually working, they just like to see you beating the keys.

          I've come up against that quite a few times in the past. Doesn't matter if you kick ass and take names from the house, you're just not a

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I know we sort of canonize the executive class in this country, but this is ridiculous...

      No, we prefer to "cannon"-ize some of them...
    • I know we sort of canonize the executive class in this country

      That's the problem in a nutshell.

      News flash! This just in! People who actually do productive work like to telecommute, while mindless parasitical execudroids prefer to have their minions in the office where they can control them and distract them from their real jobs with meetings and other pointless busywork. More on this breaking story as it develops!

      Face it, suits are the new nobility, and as far as they're concerned, the rest of us are pea
  • by ivan256 (17499) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:38PM (#17654530)
    Executives have a very hard time seeing outside of their sphere of influence. If a telecommuting employee isn't promoted as much as they desire and deserve within a company, they will advance their career by changing jobs... It wouldn't matter if telecommuters never got a promotion. If they are both ambitious and deserving, they will still advance their career.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:39PM (#17654534)
    I have been working from home for a company based 400km away for 2 years, and having no face time has resulted in my position being viewed in a resentful and misunderstood manner by other staff. managment think i do nothing and are constantly having new brain farts attempting to make me do more work for the same money.

    unseen == unappreciated. this is dispite the fact i dragged this multimillion $ company out of the dark ages and wrote them a business system and POS system linked together which run the entire venture, i also admin their web/email/db services at the same time. without me they would still be scratching away are hand written paper reports and trying to make it work on excel.

    to add to this insult, i did all this on a cut throat budget at a bargin price for them. my rate is 50% of what the next guy would charge.

    • by GweeDo (127172)
      Sounds like they are doing a great job of sucking you dry. Maybe YOU should do something about it other than gripping on /.?
    • by PoderOmega (677170) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:55PM (#17654904)
      When I hear people say things like this I have to wonder... if you can really make 50% somewhere else then what the heck are you doing?! Go get it! You said that this is a multimillion dollar company and not a church or a charity house, so why why why?! Are you just too lazy to interview for that 50% more? If it is because the company that would pay you 50% more won't let you telecommute, then it really isn't 50% more money, because that is a benefit you won't have.
    • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @06:15PM (#17655296) Homepage
      managment think i do nothing

      Then take a long vacation and prove them wrong.

      to add to this insult, i did all this on a cut throat budget at a bargin price for them. my rate is 50% of what the next guy would charge.

      When you come back, tell them you now have a better offer somewhere else, but since you're old friends you'd continue to work for them for double your current rate if they want to keep you. That will quickly make up for the money you lost from the time off, and if you're right they won't find anyone cheaper. People who are working for bargain rates rarely get any respect, telecommuter or not. Management thinks, "why, if they were really good, they'd charge more".

      If they go for it, they should have new respect for you as a highly-paid professional who has significant value to the company that they missed when you were unavailable. If they don't buy it, you were wrong about your value to this company, and you can move on to another job where things may go better for you. Either way, your current problem is gone.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by GTMoogle (968547)
        Well, a possible exception to this scenario is that some well-maintained systems can run unattended for a long time before some small details change enough to upset it. Current projects that go unfinished were unseen anyway and wouldn't be missed.

        So he could take his leave and be unavailable when the realize they needed him 2 years ago.
    • I spent 1995-2002 telecommuting and when I wanted to switch companies and move back into an office setting, I was told a number of times that the fact that I wasn't "used to the structure of an office environment anymore" was a negative. There was a kind of assumption that "telecommuter" == "unmanageable cowboy" that I had to overcome. Even after I did get hired, for my first couple of months I kept hearing, "I know you're used to having more freedom than this, but this is how we do X Y Z around here..."

      In
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      Then walk away.

      you are in a GREAT position to find a new job, you can job hunt while at work without anyone knowing.

      Get a new job offer, go in and tell your boss, "i quit, management acts like assholes, You dont stand up for me, and I cant take it anymore.

      They will either do the typical "ok have fun!", or if you really are as valuable as you think you are, they will shit a brick right there and offer you more, promise changes, yadda,yadda....

      Just be ready for the "ok, bye!" response by having a real offer i
    • by Kostya (1146)
      Sounds to me like your client sucks.

      I'm not trying to be glib. It's just that I have been in situations like that. If the company isn't willing to pay you close to market value, regardless of location, you are almost always going to get the shaft. I bet they would shaft you even if you were on-site.

      I've been doing it for five years, but I have always done it hourly. I *never* do fixed bid contracts. There are so many reasons not to, but let's just cite the obvious one that 90% of software projects are
  • by metamatic (202216) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:39PM (#17654554) Homepage Journal
    Over 60% of 1,320 global executives ... said they believe that telecommuters are less likely to advance in their careers

    So what? I bet over 60% of global executives believed there were WMDs in Iraq, that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11, that ENRON was a great company, and so on. Just because global executives believe something doesn't mean there's any truth to it. Sheesh, what a non-story.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by timmarhy (659436)
      i bet even more of them believe in a big magical man in the sky as well, but just because they are wrong it doesn't mean they won't fuck your career chances up.
    • these are the very people who would do the promoting in the managerial realm. And if you want to get to the top, you have to manage. In this case they are the experts, as opposed to the cases you listed.
      • by metamatic (202216)
        Yes, but just because they believe that it will damage someone's career doesn't mean that they themselves would damage someone's career because that person was a remote worker.

        If someone asked me if I believed that being an atheist would make someone unelectable in the USA, I'd say yes, I believe that. Does that mean I would never elect an atheist? Not at all. I just believe that most other people are bigoted idiots.

        It could be exactly the same principle at work in this case.
  • by flaming-opus (8186) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:40PM (#17654564)
    In my office we use telecommuting not to recruit people in different metropolitan areas, but cantidates further away, within our metro area. I usually go into the office 2-3 times a week, and try not to be driving at rush-hour. If I can work at the office 10:00-3:30, a few times a week, and get the rest of my work done remote, that's considered sufficient "face-time". It means I can live a lot further away, and endure the long commute because it's not very often, and not at rush hour.

    I don't think we'd put up with complete telecommuting, not unless the employee was phenomenal.
    • by c (8461)
      Yup. I telecommute (AKA telework, 'cause the Canadian government can't just use the same word as everyone else) a couple days a week, everyone I work with knows about it, and effectively I think it's best to treat it as some kind of "closed door" day. Like I'm in the office getting work done, but I need to concentrate and can't be bothered. But telecommuting full-time... I couldn't do it, and I'd have a hard time working with someone who did.

      Mind you, I mainly do development so just about everything I norma
  • Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by elined (623866)
    It took a study to figure this out? While it's true that in an effort to reduce costs associated with maintaining offices and whatnot, corporations do promote telecommuting. Just because an idea is promoted does not mean it's a good idea. As anyone who has worked two days in a corporate enviornment can tell you, there is a difference between "working" and "advancing" in a corporate environment.

    At the end of the day, people help those folks they know and are comfortable with. This means that if you don

  • by Paul Carver (4555) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:42PM (#17654654)
    Telecommuting may decrease the urge to "climb the corporate ladder" if the pay is sufficient. I've found that telecommuting is a strong job satisfaction component. Now, I'm not the type of person who would have ever climbed to the corner office at the top of a Manhattan skyscraper. If I had a shot at that sort of oppulence I'd be foolish to risk missing out by losing "face time".

    But as far as climbing a bit faster in the middle levels of corporate IT? The job satisfaction of avoiding the 10 rush hour commutes per week, the large home office, home cooked food instead of cafeteria or lunch bag amounts to quite a lot of non-monetary compensation.

    If I couldn't telecommute I'd probably jump from job to job and company to company in order to maximize my income, but as long as I can telecommute a lot of the time and as long as the job isn't too unpleasant and as long as the pay covers my expenses, I don't have a whole lot of motivation to look for a new job.
  • by OglinTatas (710589) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:43PM (#17654682)
    Not telecommuting itself, but staying home and watching Scooby Doo sank my career. I would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those meddling managers and their pesky status reports, milestones and deadlines.
  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:45PM (#17654720) Homepage Journal
    If you want to climb the corporate ladder, turn off your computer and go into work. Right now. OK? No, no, stop - go in to work, you can reply there.

    If you want to be independent, set your hours, spend more time with the kids, choose your employers and your work, or whatever, then by all means, go file for an LLC and get to work. It's hard and you'll probably earn less and get less sleep.

    I've seen even the best employees who were teleworkers get let go before the mediocre folks who bitched at the water cooler, come lay-offs time, that's just the way it works, humans are social creatures. It's a bad 'career' option, but a good lifestyle choice.

    Neither choice is right for everybody but it's good to honestly assess which is the right one for you.
  • Face time? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Virtex (2914) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:49PM (#17654776) Homepage
    Company executives want face time with their employees, the study said.
    I've been working in IT for about 14 years now, and the only time I've ever had "face time" with company executives was either when the company was small (less than 20 employees), or it was in a large conference room with easily 1000 other people. Trust me when I say that when I'm in a room with 1000 other people, some executive isn't going to notice me.
  • by creimer (824291) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:51PM (#17654824) Homepage
    Company executives want face time with their employees, the study said.

    At one company I worked for, management wanted to install new cubes with half-height walls so they could see if everyone was working with a simple glance out over the office. They backed off when we complained to their managers that the real problem was that out managers were insecure jerks who overreact to problems instead of proactively managing the department. It got even more interesting when our management banned the posting of Dilbert cartons on the cube walls that randomly appeared to mock them.
    • by Kjella (173770)
      It got even more interesting when our management banned the posting of Dilbert cartons on the cube walls that randomly appeared to mock them.

      Oh my, a lack of selfirony too. If I get to be a big boss someday (wouldn't bet on it), I plan to put the following dilbert strip (02.01.2000) on my door:

      CEO to Senior VP: "The research supports my strategy. You can read the research but don't make copies"
      Senior VP to VP: "I can tell you about it, but you can't read it"
      VP to assistant VP: "I don't remember the reason b
  • Eg, consider the 5-person database-based web site making teams
    (corporations, from the point of view of the tax system...
    I think) that Phil Greenspun was promoting in one or both of
    his online "web whore" books (by different titles, of course).

    If the job and/or environment you want isn't to be found, the
    Creative Minority go off & make one of their own design, either
    within an existing company context or in a company of their
    own design.

    Next challenge, please... ;-)
  • by Futaba-chan (541818) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:55PM (#17654902)
    The one telecommuting job that I've worked for involved a team (both the team that I was in charge of and the larger team that we were part of) where no two employees were in the same location. We all worked out of home offices or the company's local offices, depending.

    It worked remarkably well. Communication between team members was actually better than on many teams that I've worked on in cube farms. When everyone is isolated, a consciousness develops that everyone needs to be very explicit about picking up the phone and calling each other to stay on the same page. In the cube farm, it's easy to become complacent about the fact that so-and-so has a cube two aisles over, and never go and talk to them.

    The telecommuting job was wonderful in terms of being able to keep up an aggressive pace, sustainably. Adding up the time for the commute to and from the job I had had before it, plus getting ready in the morning before going to work, travel time out to eat at lunch, and so forth, an eight-hour work day generally took me around eleven hours or so. On my telecommuting job, I wound up working lots of ten hour days, yet felt like I was working less hard.

    On the other hand, my current job involves agile development where everyone is together in a single project room, and that's just about as pleasant, and much more efficient in terms of delivering on time. And impossible to do by telecommuting....

  • I don't know about most of you, but in the larger companies (I work for a Major Telecommunications Company in the US and its the one at the far end of the alphabet), a lot of staff is spread out across the country anyway. I'm in Dallas, my boss is in New Jersey, my team mates are in Los Angeles, Vermont, Philly, St Louis and Boston. When I do go to the office, I'm sitting in a room with a bunch of people that I don't work with.

    So Face Time is when we all fly to a central location, twice a year, to meet up.
    • I worked in a traditional office setting and its not that much different really. I had my own office and I saw my boss during our monthly meeting. Outside of that it was all through email, IM and phone. I could have just not come in to work and noone would have noticed, the work which needed to be done, was done. There was communication.

      I chose to go to work since it was in downtown San Francisco and the my choices for lunch were much better there than where I lived (San Carlos). :-)
  • Said just today that she believes in telecomutting; she doesn't care where you work, just as long as you are putting in a 24 hour day, 7 days a week.
  • by Ironica (124657) <pixel.boondock@org> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @06:00PM (#17654994) Journal
    This article says that, while most people would like to telecommute at least some of the time, and companies don't perceive telecommuters as less productive than in-office employees, executives are still less likely to promote telecommuters than people in the office every day. But, why? People are talking about "face-time" and "company culture," but should decisions about promotions really be based on such incredibly subjective characteristics? It sounds like the problem that these executives have is that they haven't had time to become buddy-buddy with the telecommuters, and so they're reluctant to advance them in their careers. This is important information... because it tells us we need to change something about how executives view telecommuting, and in a larger view, career advancement.
  • ... I want to take a look at some source at midnight or in the weekends or when I'm sick or something. For everyday work it's not something I can imagine liking... unless I have a gf/wife at home with me to keep me happy ;) .
  • ...the pope is suspected of having religious ties.
  • I worked at home for over 3 years doing telecommuting for a small start-up, and enjoyed every minute of it, despite some of the cons.

    Pros:

    > work your own schedule
    > wear whatever you want (even your boxers, only)
    > Save money on gas
    > Increased productivity due to isolation
    > Listen to music as loud as you want/can!
    > no boss breathing down your neck (but rather via IM instead)
    > no sick co-workers infecting you with their germs
    > no office-politics

    Cons:

    > Anti-social behavioural patterns
  • Story Title (Score:2, Funny)

    by petehead (1041740)
    I misread the title at a glance and thought it said, Wii Telecommuting Kill a Career? First the Wii is killing ladies who drink too much water, now it's killing careers. Where will it end?
    • by Timothy Chu (2263)
      Wii too. I'm so wiidicted that my parsing of the English language is noticeabwii suffering.
  • Company executives want face time with their employees, the study said.

    Wait, I thought that counted as the best reason to telecommute?


    On a more serious note - I've worked for a fairly small international corporation (~5k employees). And physical presence at the corporate headquarters meant absolute diddly-squat. I had only a vague notion that we had executives hiding somewhere on the third floor. They never came out to play with the engineers, except at "informative" "internal" meetings that curious
  • Its worth noting that the survey was of "executives"; their preferences may not translate to those of lower-level managers, and lots of people go for a substantial part of their career without reaching a position where an executive is dierctly involved in the career progress more than perhaps signing off a recommendation by a lower level manager.

    And the positions where executives are more actively involved in personnel decisions are probably ones where having "face time" with a candidate is more relevant to
  • How about for people who do both work in offices/cubicles and from home (remotely)? Does this still affect their careers?
  • is enough.

    enough to build up trust, intimacy, compatibility, cohesion and even share some secrets.

    few people are able to get a major promotion before 10 years anways.
  • How true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SnapperHead (178050) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @06:42PM (#17655708) Homepage Journal
    I have been working from home for about 5 years now. The first company I worked for, sort of forgot I existed for a while. Checks were coming in, I was providing them with results, but nobody knew who I was. In fact, very few people in the company knew I worked there to begin with. The company wasn't big either, it was only like 25 employees.

    The next company (the current one), I have been with them for 1 year now. MANY people in the company know about me, I am much more in the "public" view then previously. I have a greater interaction with people then before. Every day, its conference call after conference call.

    But, if I keep staying at home and working I might get passsed up. Which is why I think I am being asked to move across the country. I am ready to do it, but its going to take a lot of adjustment going back to an office structure. I get way more done at home then in the office. Which is strange why they would want you to be in the office all the time.

    I don't have kids (nor do I want them) and I am not married. I am in a long term relationship, and she will be going with me. I am lucky that I don't have the distractions at home. When that office door is shut, that means GTFO. At first I had friends bothering me during the day, until I stopped answering calls from them or answering the door during business hours. That helped a ton.

    Anyway, if you work at home too much you will lose touch with the office. Many times there are things going on that I don't hear about, or find out way too late. This can also make you miss promotions or showing special interest in events. Hell, even attending events becomes interesting.

  • at least where I am at. The need to see "you" because they can't stay focused themselves. Hell if my dire project didn't get interrupted at least twice a week I would think management died, note I did not say on vacation because they crackberry me to death from the days off.

    Too many in management are insecure, they feel they just have to be doing something and unfortunately that means doing it to someone.

    I would still TC even if it meant some slowness in career progression, if not just for the peace and m
  • I've telecommuted for about 2 years now and love it. I guess this won't be as applicable to some people since my boss and most of my coworkers telecommute as well, but I think it still holds some truth...

    Schedule face time with your boss. Many telecommuters often have to go in to meetings at work regularily, but that's not enough. Tell your boss you'd like to have lunch with him/her and during the lunch ask about the department and how things are headed. Show some interest in what's actually going on ins
  • ..it's related to the fact that many people who want to work from home have some understanding of Quality Of Life, and aren't career-driven drones who throw aside having an actual life to make a living.

    I'm not in a huge push to advance my career, my salary has been cut in half so I can have a reasonable schedule without a beeper in my pocket and more time to spend with my wife and son. Working from home isn't always for those who are chasing a seat in the boardroom. If you need a "study" to tell you that, p
  • Either spend all their time working and don't learn new stuff to a usable degree, or spend to much time learning new stuff and don't get their work done. There are a few exceptions, and YMMV, but this has been my experience with telecommuters. Face time with the boss is not as important as idea sharing and face time with coworkers. The days of treating coders like plants that you can water and expect code to grow are dwindling. More and more it is about the time you spend discussing the ideas and there
  • some people may not want the added responsibilities when moving up the corporate ladder. they may be happy with all the time they get and the place where they work (may it be at home or some comfortable location.)

    it's a tradeoff between flexibility and being exhausted and worked out.

    i'd prefer to be happy and flexible with a decent pay rather than have a big pay with not enough time to spend it enjoying.
  • If you want to climb the ladder, be the executive, make the biggest bucks, etc., for whatever reason, whether anyone else wants to, understands, or approves your motives, then telecommuting is not for you. There's always an exception, so there's got to be one or two die hard telecommuters who have become CEO, but it also has to be rare. You schmooze, or you lose. If you're Type "A" driven you may very well give up some personal freedom, but that's not inherent in wanting to work 'with people.' Some people p
  • > "Over 60% of 1,320 global executives ... want face time with their employees, the study said.

    Over 60% of global executives (I'd say probably 150% of 60%) don't get or even expect face time with the majority of their employees. They wouldn't even recognize most of them as employees.

    They do, however, know how to understand what a question is asking and answer it in such a way as to present themselves in the best light, and darn sure don't want their employees to think they're hardly even known to their t
  • by Kostya (1146) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @08:15PM (#17656966) Homepage Journal

    The only thing that will hamper your career if you tele-commute is if you suck at tele-commuting.

    I have been working from a remote location for 5 years now. For 3 of those years, I would travel once a month or once every two months for a week on-site. The rest of my time (that is at least 40, but usually 46, of the 52 weeks of the year) I was working out of my home. And during those three years, my clients were 3 time zones away. I was a senior technical lead and I usual lead teams from 2-5 people. I was a senior contributor and I received 2 "absolute best" team awards on one project. During the other two years, I worked exclusively from my home.

    The only time telecommuting hurts your career is if:

    1. You have poor interpersonal skills (well, this will hurt you regardless, but it tends to lead to even more misunderstandings if you are remote)
    2. You are not self-motivated. If you can't stick with the code instead of catching ST:DS9 on G4 because you are bored or frustrated, telecommuting is going to expose this weakness.
    3. You do not have a dedicated workspace. If you are trying to do 10 things at once AND work, you are screwed.
    4. Your company isn't telecommuter friendly (kind of a "duh", but it needs to be said). You can't force a company to accept you as a telecommuter if they hate telecommuters.
    I find a lot of companies that are "family friendly" are usually good telecommuting places. They usually have the infrastructure and have good speaker phones in their conference rooms. They are set up for it and they don't look down on you if you attend a meeting by phone.

    You can also mitigate a lot of issues by coming in for face time on a regular basis. While it isn't my favorite approach, it tends to make most employers happy. Just having a good chat program and a dedicated phone will work wonders. If people can almost always get ahold of you exactly when they want to, they usually don't mind the telecommuting. It's when they can never get a hold of you and you never seem to be "on-line" that they get fiesty.

    To be clear, I usually work the schedule of the company, not my own. So even if I could wake up at 12p and work till 8p, I don't do it. I work 8a-4p so that people in different time zones can reach me at a reasonable hour their time. And since most coders come in late and work late, that works pretty good when I am three hours behind them ;-)

    All that said, I have never wanted to be a manager. Sr. technical lead is as far as I let a company promote me. So maybe I don't care about career advancement in the technical sense. I'm happy cranking out quality code, and companies continue to hire me for exactly that reason. Even if I had worked on-site all these years, my career would be pretty much the same, since I would never take a management position.

    I don't think you can be a manager and tele-commute--unless your whole company is virtual or network based. There is just too much that goes wrong on a daily basis, and if 90% of your workers are in one place and you only see them once a week ... well, stuff is going to go bad.

    Sometimes design or brainstorming meetings are difficult. But this could be solved with tech too--it's just that most companies don't want to be bothered with true teleconferencing setups and virtual whiteboards. I find this forces people to be a bit clearer when explaining things over the phone--which can be an added bonus. Or you just make sure you are on site for important design meetings.

  • I do almost all of my consulting work remotely since I live in the mountains in Arizona, 2.5 hours from the Phoenix airport. I do sometimes get to meet my customers face to face and from then on, work is a little smoother - the face time effect is real.

    However, there are real cost and performance advantages to telecommuting: commute/travel time is freed up, long periods of quiet time for working on more difficult problems, energy savings, savings in office space, etc.

    The question is, will your managers bala

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