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The Real Reasons Companies Won't Hire Telecommuters (oreilly.com) 269

Long-time Slashdot reader Esther Schindler points us to a new article at OReilly.com: Those of us who telecommute cannot quite fathom the reasons companies give for refusing to let people work from home. But even if you don't agree with their decision, they do have reasons -- and not all of them are, "Because we like to be idiots." In "5 reasons why the company you want to work for won't hire telecommuters", hiring managers share their sincere reasons to insist you work in the office -- and a few tips for how you might convince them otherwise.
The arguments against telecommuting range from "creativity happens in the hallway" to "the extra logistics aren't worth it," and the article suggests the best counterarguments include pointing out a past history of successfully telecommuting and allowing your employer to gradually transition you into a remote position. And if all else fails, just become a "rock star," because according to one tech placement company, "For the right talent and when a role has been open for a very long time, they tend to give in."
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The Real Reasons Companies Won't Hire Telecommuters

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08, 2016 @03:51PM (#53038549)

    How in the world can Real Work(tm) get done without the constant barrage of face-to-face interruptions? Think of the children!

    Brought to you by Management. Management - for when you need to divide your day into never-ending 30-minute chunks of time. Focus? What the hell is that?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Communication works better in person
      By far, the most prevalent attitude is that rapport and camaraderie are generated best from in-person relationships.

      Unfortunately, this is true. it's why companies spend millions of dollars a year on travel expenses when it would be much cheaper to use phone/video conferencing.

      Creativity happens in the hallway

      Questionable. Especially when the only examples they can come up with is Yahoo and Best Buy. Seriously? Yahoo and Best Buy? WTF?

      • That's _their_ viewpoints. I certainly don't mean to suggest that I agree with them. But it's the perception, and you don't change someone's mind simply by saying, "You're wrong."
    • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @05:05PM (#53038805)

      Think of the office sports pool!

      FTFY.

      A lot of the push to get people into the office is made by those for whom the office is their social life as well. The repeated interruptions aren't always about work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      All of the reasons listed in the article are pure bullshit. The real reason companies don't want employees to telecommute is because they don't trust them. If an employer doesn't trust you, you shouldn't be working for scumbags like that.

      In reality the ONLY thing an employer should be concerned with are deadlines. If a project has been assigned to you and you deliver by the deadline, then there should be no issue. That's how most of my past employers have thought, fortunately. Nowadays, I'm the employer.

  • Some good points. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08, 2016 @03:51PM (#53038551)

    I was getting ready to throw some serious shade at this, but there are actually a few good points in this article. In particular the comments regarding mentoring junior members and knowing when they are struggling.

    • Re:Some good points. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @04:15PM (#53038619)

      I've been mentoring junior developers for years, and there's been absolutely no uncertainty about which ones were struggling. Or which ones were overjoyed to be guided and which were just hoping I'd do their job for them,

      Some of them were even located on the same continent I am.

      Though I've never met any of them face-to-face. Or even voice-to-voice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

        I've been mentoring junior developers for years, ...Though I've never met any of them face-to-face. Or even voice-to-voice.

        If you've never talked to them, how are you mentoring them?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Welcome to the late 20th century, where email exists.
          • Welcome to the late 20th century, where email exists.

            And skype and webex and slack. I collaborate with a co-worker in Phoenix and one in Naples on a daily basis while I work off Broward (north of Miami). We conduct daily stand ups, code reviews and design meetings all remotely.

            A few weeks ago, I worked remotely with a team in Japan. And in the past I've done the same with people on the West Coast and India.

            This is the type of shit that has been possible for more than a decade.

            Now, I understand the rationale for being against telecommuting. But they ar

            • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

              Forms of online group communications have been available since at least the 80s. This includes "newsgroups" and real time chat. The real problem is that many people choose not to use them and you pretty much have to chase them down physically.

              Trustworthiness is really the only issue here. The rest flow from that.

              In some companies, even if you are physically in the office you are co-located with NO ONE on your team.

          • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
            66% of knowledge is not transferable via communications of any form, which is why hiring to 3rd parties rarely works, because domain knowledge and requirements cannot be properly conveyed via humans, not matter how hard they try.. 90% of what can be communicated is tonal or body language. 10% of 33% is 3.3%. Your mentoring is only 3.3% transferable. Grats.
            • And to contradict that, we have the written word, in books, for centuries. O'Reilly makes coin on the fact that even specialized knowledge is transferable in print. Or just google it. No need for in person meetings.
              • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
                2/3rds of knowledge is not factual, it is context sensitive, it is nuanced in a way that human language cannot communicate. Many in psychology actually use apprenticeships as an example of the best way to transfer knowledge this knowledge, lots of hands-on experience watching a master at work.

                One of the most highly acclaimed books on Software Architecture started the book saying, if you have to read this or any other book to become the required master at software design to be an Architect, you will never
                • by swalve ( 1980968 )
                  Nonsense. There is nothing that can't be conveyed via written language, provided the communicants are well versed in that language. If they aren't, it won't work in person either.
                  • by gweihir ( 88907 )

                    And that is just the point. People that know how to communicate do not need the full bandwidth, a tiny fraction is enough. For the others, it does not help, as they have no clue how to use it in the first place. Many of them will want if for an illusion of control though.

            • by gweihir ( 88907 )

              And basically all of that is irrelevant for the purpose at hand. You fail. A possible explanation is that you vastly overestimate the worth of what you believe you have to say.

        • I've mentored dozens of people by email and by commenting on their articles. Voice isn't necessary. Sometimes it actually gets in the way.

          But yeah I also write very long emails.

    • The article does indeed make some good points.

      Particularly the last point about introducing work-from-home gradually. That's been my experience both as an employee and as a manager. As an employee, first I established a good reputation as a solid worker in the office. Then I worked from home one day because I waiting for the AC repairman or whatever. That day, I made it a point to start working at the time I would otherwise be starting my commute, stop when I would have finished my commute home, and commu

  • by pepsikid ( 2226416 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @03:54PM (#53038559)

    Managers like to sneak up on their employees, and look over their shoulders. They like to be an ever-present looming threat keeping the prole's heads down and working hard. It's a constant trickle of pleasure in their bloodstreams. Productivity and mental health numbers don't matter to them.

    • Managers like to sneak up on their employees, and look over their shoulders. They like to be an ever-present looming threat keeping the prole's heads down and working hard. It's a constant trickle of pleasure in their bloodstreams. Productivity and mental health numbers don't matter to them.

      Speaking of what matters, would financial numbers matter to them after they discover productivity is in the toilet due to them driving their best talent out the door?

      At some point the moronic PHB mentality starts to affect what they DO care about, and sane, talented people do not put up with that shit.

      • Speaking of what matters, would financial numbers matter to them after they discover productivity is in the toilet due to them driving their best talent out the door?

        Apparently, losing good people doesn't bother anyone, because they keep doing it and I have yet to see anyone ever admit that they're doing something wrong and need to change.

      • All managers care about is how cheap they can get it done in their version of productivity formula.

        If they drive top talent away then good as productivity goes up by an H1B1 because they are cheaper anyway etc.

        Oh wait do you mean shit about deadlines? That's the project managers problem.

        • by TroII ( 4484479 )

          If they drive top talent away then good as productivity goes up by an H1B1 because they are cheaper anyway etc.

          It's never productive to have flu in the office, anyone with H1B1 should be telecommuting.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @05:33PM (#53038897)

      Managers like to sneak up on their employees

      No. Bad managers like to stalk. Good managers don't give a shit about looking over your shoulder. That isn't an argument for or against telecommuting. My manager works in a different country to me, but that doesn't mean I'm telecommuting. I am still very much at one of our offices and for a good reason; I am far more useful when I overhear and am in the middle of what's going on.

      Picking up a phone requires effort, overhearing a conversation or discussing a problem over coffee does not.

    • Managers like to sneak up on their employees, and look over their shoulders. They like to be an ever-present looming threat keeping the prole's heads down and working hard. It's a constant trickle of pleasure in their bloodstreams. Productivity and mental health numbers don't matter to them.

      Not all managers. In 22 years doing this in software (and 28 when I include other fields), I can say for certain that this is not the general case. If a) you have a good manager, and b) you have given them reason to trust you, they don't do that.

      However, if a) you do not have a good manager, or b) you have given them reason to mistrust you, then yeah, they'll sneak upon you.

      This is not specific of software. It happens everywhere. Life is what you make of it.

  • I get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cshark ( 673578 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @03:55PM (#53038561)

    As someone who's spent the last two years working on nothing but remote projects, I completely understand it. Doesn't always have anything to do with the worker, either. It's been my experience that it's something that doesn't experiment well.

    What I mean by that, is that you can't easily mix the office model and the work from home model easily. You're usually doing all one, or all the other.

    If you don't, and you haphazardly experiment with it, without knowing how to do this, your office people will screw everything up, or hire the wrong people.
    Sometimes, they'll intentionally mismanage projects, because the notion of remote workers is seen as a threat. I've seen it. They also have this nasty habit of wanting all of the productivity gains of remote workers, while insisting they work with constraints that don't make sense for remote contractors or employees.

    It's not for everyone, at least not yet. The whole idea is a pretty radical change from the established order. Better tools need to be built. Better protocols need to be in place more consistently. Better practices need to be thought up and deployed, because the state of it now is objectively bad at the corporate level.

    And if companies know their weaknesses here, I say good. Good. It means fewer shit remote jobs.

    • Not every day (Score:3, Insightful)

      by niff ( 175639 )

      Working at home every day is not efficient if you're into software development for example.
      In one whiteboard session with some coworkers you get more done than by e-mail for two weeks.

      But there are tasks that require absolute concentration if you want to get the best results, like designing and implementing a complex algorithm, or fixing a complex bug.

      My days in the office are mostly filled with meetings, Skype calls with the offshore team, writing e-mails, etc. I work at home one day per week, and that's t

      • You know boss that Niff guy is always late and calls out every Friday?!

        Are you sure you want to lay me off instead of him? What does he do again?

        I at least come in at 8am sharp every day!

      • So meet in the local pub for a bull session and pens to draw on the back of napkins. Richard Berry came up with the lyrincs for Louie Louie and wrote them on toilet paper. W.C. Fields sold a plot idea he had written (Never Give a Sucker an Even Break) on the back of his grocery order to Universal for $25,000.00. The Star Spangled Banner was written on the back of a letter Francis Scott Key had in his pocket. Arthur Laffer used a cocktail napkin to explain the Laffer Curve to Donald Rumsfeld, Ford's econom

    • > The whole idea is a pretty radical change from the established order. Better tools need to be built. Better protocols need to be in place more consistently. Better practices need to be thought up and deployed, because the state of it now is objectively bad at the corporate level.

      I'm interested in what changes you feel need to be made to improve the process, particularly if I left them out of the white paper (to which the article linked). As you may imagine, the topic is one that interests me greatly.

  • Given that Slashdot is a technically oriented site, I'd say in this specific case we'd usually be the ones setting up said "extra logistics" - so that argument doesn't hold water here. Whether or not you choose to laugh in the person's face when they bring that point up is up to you (I'd argue that you should show restraint, though; PHBs generally don't have a sense of humor, especially on subjects where they're out of their depth).

    I set up an openvpn server on my "test box" (an old Dell running CentOS 6.8

  • If you can do the job from home then EditorDavid, manishs, msmash[1] or BeauHD can do it from Calcutta.

    [1] Suspiciously close to an anagram if your handwriting is as bad as your accent.

    • I think that's overly simplified.

      If you can do 90-100% of your job from home, then your statement is correct (although I think I could still argue several points). However if you've got a job (like I do) where you're juggling a lot of plates, there may be some tasks which work well from home while others don't.

      I telecommute one day a week - that's my "project day". Adding a second day (and perhaps a third) would not significantly impact my ability to do my job. But there are parts of my job which would be m

      • It's not overly simplified, it's called sarcasm. However, is that or is that not the fundamental justification for offshoring anything that's not explicitly banned by the DoD?

        I've never done 100% telecommuting. I did one job where a blind eye was turned to the odd occasional day at home - this was nice, there's always childcare issues, transport strikes and shit - until one guy abused it (he had the odd occasional day where he'd turn up) and got everyone banned. Within a month two good experienced peopl

  • by moosehooey ( 953907 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @04:00PM (#53038581)

    Don't some of these same reasons apply to hiring developers in India or wherever? Yet that gets done all the time.

    • That's why we have an H1-B visa program.
    • No. Telecommuting and outsourcing are two different things. When you outsource an entire project the resulting project team are still in the same room, collaborating, taking advantage of all the efficiencies of being co-located with their colleagues, and (dare I say this because it's India) they will have managers breathing down their necks and being micromanaged for performance (this is not a good thing as it can kill productivity, it's just different from telecommuting).

    • Don't some of these same reasons apply to hiring developers in India or wherever? Yet that gets done all the time.

      My thoughts exactly. Outsourcing is nothing so much as a huge investment in foreign telecommuters...

  • by econnor ( 325234 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @04:06PM (#53038593)

    apart from people who don't have a business that is developed enough to make it worth shelling out for office on-costs?

    Telecommuting is a perk for trusted in-house rockstars who aren't quite board material. The value those rockstars deliver is nearly always organisation specific. It isn't tranferable. Don't believe the hype. Unless you is a global rockstar or sumfink.

    • > Who "hires" telecommuters?

      Everywhere I've worked doing software development, a reliable employee could transition to a lot of working from home, no need to be a "rockstar". Work from home one day while waiting for the AC repair guy, or when your and SHOW that you get your job done from home. Skipping the commute (working half of the commute time) makes that easy for anyone who has the skills from working from home or working for themselves. (For example, you learn to work in a room with no TV or fa

  • How is this news? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 )

    The real reason? Simple: people are lazy as shit. If you give them a chance to slack off, they will. And that's far more likely at home than at work where a pointy-haired boss can tell you something else that needs doing.

    All the rest is just hand-wavy bullshit. And it's right. I personally think "working from home" is *never* as efficient as a dedicated, isolated workspace. If you do it, it should be a level of trust you EARN from a company, certainly not start with. Plus, I think if you work from ho

    • Re:How is this news? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @04:29PM (#53038683)

      Sorry. That's shit, too.

      People who are well-motivated and self-driven can work without someone continuously breathing over their shoulder.

      People who are slackers can slack off just as well in the middle of a crowded office. Dilbert's fellow-employee Wally is alive and well and I've had the questionable honor of working in offices with many of his clones over the years.

      People who have to be forcibly driven to work are going to resent it and the results are going to show in the quality of their work. Although, what am I saying - qualify took back seat to cheap and fast years ago.

      Personally, my home office is organized and equipped a lot better than most employer-supplied workspaces I've been given. I can have a comfortable chair because it doesn't have to conform to HR's ranking of who gets what kind of chair based on whether one is a manager or not (even to the point of whether it should be floral or plaid). I don't spend my time looking for items to set fire to because the office thermostat isn't set to arctic levels in the misguided idea that the colder it is the more "productive" i am. I don't arrive at work in a bad mood because of the commute or connive to quit early in order to avoid the rush and I can even adapt my working schedule to be more friendly to natural body rhythms by taking a break in the middle of the afternoon and returning to work in the evening since I don't have a long commute in and out of work.

      I don't even talk to headhunters who expect me to work exclusively on-premises anymore.

      • Sorry. That's shit, too.

        People who are well-motivated and self-driven can work without someone continuously breathing over their shoulder.

        People who are slackers can slack off just as well in the middle of a crowded office. Dilbert's fellow-employee Wally is alive and well and I've had the questionable honor of working in offices with many of his clones over the years.

        In my first real job, there was this one guy who would go into the restroom every morning with at least 2 newspapers.

      • I can have a comfortable chair because it doesn't have to conform to HR's ranking of who gets what kind of chair based on whether one is a manager or not (even to the point of whether it should be floral or plaid).

        Holy shit is that a thing? What kind of a dead beat employer does that? I have the same chair as the top manager at my company and I think also the same one as the cleaner does in their break room.

        • A good chair that won't flat your butt is a good $600!

          Not everyone wants to pay for that when you have 3,000 employees

          • by awrc ( 12953 )

            Even in small companies, where the number of employees are small, some employees are more equal than others. More on that later, but just to share my telecommuting experiences.

            I've worked in a telecommuting position twice. The first time was 100% telecommuting, with the distance between me and the office being about 1300 miles, from 2005-2008. The hiring situation was unusual - they came to me, I'd worked for them in-office for three years in the late 90s, they knew what I could do, etc. It started out

        • Hard plastic?

      • Wally would be the more likely to get promoted because, being a slacker, he had more opportunity to have "face time" with the managers.
      • by swalve ( 1980968 )
        What took a back seat to cheap and fast? Quality?
      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I can have a comfortable chair because it doesn't have to conform to HR's ranking of who gets what kind of chair based on whether one is a manager or not (even to the point of whether it should be floral or plaid).

        I think this taps into the subtle psychology that often opposes remote work.

        I think part of the psychological value of being a "manager" is elevated status and power over people. That status is reinforced by the physical space controlled by a manager, the public display of differentiation in status (bigger office, better furniture) and social display of authority and the fealty received by inferiors.

        What would "being a manager" be like if you were in charge of a team of workers who were all remote? It wou

    • Perhaps people who are "lazy as shit" are the ones who say people are lazy as shit. I'm not lazy as shit, and have been very happily working remotely for most of my adult life with ZERO complaints about productivity. Some people are lazy, sure, but their results are pretty easy to uncover. It's not a blanket statement however, but it does work better for some than others.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And yet, there's a manager at my job who watches fucking youtube videos all day long, in an open office environment; and another guy who manages his fantasy sports team in the office.

      So much for the idea that being physically present encourages productivity. Lazy slackers will find a way to slack regardless of where they are. If your employees can't get things done from home, maybe you need better employees.

    • by Tesen ( 858022 )

      The real reason? Simple: people are lazy as shit. If you give them a chance to slack off, they will. And that's far more likely at home than at work where a pointy-haired boss can tell you something else that needs doing.

      All the rest is just hand-wavy bullshit. And it's right. I personally think "working from home" is *never* as efficient as a dedicated, isolated workspace. If you do it, it should be a level of trust you EARN from a company, certainly not start with. Plus, I think if you work from home you should get paid less, because working from home is so desirable and convenient.

      And I personally have the full choice of working from home, or at my office; I've worked for the firm for 23 years, they couldn't care less. But generally, I work from the office.

      Utter bullshit. Sorry, I work from home 2 - 3 days a week and dealing with a new CIO that thinks the same way as you do. Home workers are less productive, rahrah... it all comes down to the CIO's personal opinion and when I challenged them on it, ha! No analysis to back it up. Sorry, but if you are making decisions based on opinions at that level and not hard data you need the boot. In addition, I have a _DEDICATED_ isolated office in my house - which is the key. A prior company I worked for, there was a ru

  • ...they don't know how to manage remote employees. I find this difficult myself, but primarily because I ad hoc manage a few people who are remote - I think if you manage the entire team in a remote fashion, it can be a win.

    With a management process built to support this type of team - remote teams actually coordinate and communicate better than physically co-located teams.

    We currently have a single remote team (many other teams in-house) at our company - and they're fantastic. That's primarily down to the fact that the guy running the team (also remote) has a great and transparent system for communication that works well.

    Now, there are many reasons why it wouldn't work for a given company - but I can definitely state that it can work, and work REALLY well - given the right circumstances.

  • And if all else fails, just become a "rock star,"

    As if it was that easy. This reminds me of when I explained that the cost of housing was too high and a friend said 'people should just earn more money'. Don't you think they aren't already trying?

    How much of the advice out there is for a very select few able, talented, healthy, and driven individuals. What about the other 99.5% of us? The ordinary folk. The very best of us don't need advice. They will virtually always find a way to succeed.

    What is wrong people that they would dish out such myopic '

  • According to a lot of posters I've seen recently, many companies want Rock Stars as interns... and Jimmy Johns wants to hire Rock Stars, so maybe they are "Freaky fast"

    I don't know, but I would like to think you have to have some other qualifications, especially with retarded "rock" like that screamo crap that was so popular a few years ago. I'd prefer it if my sandwiches weren't delivered by somebody with the ability to make a pig squealing noises that ruin an otherwise listenable tune.

  • The real reason (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @04:38PM (#53038709)
    Companies pay people for being at their desk 8 yours a day (and yes, HP payed me for doing nothing for over a week). If companies actually payed people based on the results they produced rather than being warm bodies at a desk, then they wouldn't have any problem with where they were when they produced those results. The "need to be in the same room" is bullshit, because I've been forced to work with coworkers on the other coast and even overseas while sitting at my desk -- I even have a direct manager in another state. Granted, the real reason they don't like you working at home is they can't directly monitor the hours you work.
    • Re:The real reason (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @04:59PM (#53038789)

      This.

      It's partly management's inability to measure output vs resources expended. All they know how to do is count butts occupying seats. And then there's management styles. When the meetings are run by Type A personalities, they need people present to dominate. Move the communication away from face to face and to text and it becomes more difficult for the Type As to 'win' in staff meetings.

    • The "need to be in the same room" is bullshit, because I've been forced to work with coworkers on the other coast

      Your one-off anecdote that unlikely applies to a wide variety of roles in your company isn't even remotely proof that the premise is bullshit. There is a wealth of efficiencies that are gained by simply being in the same room as people. It's the reason 4 of us drove 4 hours to an office in Germany last week to have a quick meeting, it's the reason we manage to solve problems by overhearing hallway chatter, it's the reason most of us are part of a social community that extends beyond a name in an email fiel

    • HP (well, HPE) paid me for doing pretty much nothing for over a year. I did ITSM coordination for several large airlines on the overnight shift. At first it was great, but eventually I watched every movie and TV show I could find on Primewire, netflix, etc. I was actually kinda glad when I got laid off with severance.
  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @04:38PM (#53038717) Homepage

    One advantage of planning for remote work is that it makes it easier to get people on-line and working in an emergency. If production goes down unexpectedly on a weekend, if the company's already set up for remote work they can make phone calls and get engineers on-line and working on the problem in a matter of 5-15 minutes. If the company isn't, engineers are going to have to get dressed and get in to the office before they can even start looking at the problem and that can take a half-hour to an hour (or more depending on how far away the engineer lives). It also makes it easier for employees to turn what would've been a day taken off to deal with appointments into a half-day or less of time away from the keyboard, which helps get more work done. I've always felt that those benefits more than outweigh the costs of setting the company up for remote work, and that having people working remotely on a regular basis makes sure all that infrastructure's working properly and gives confidence that it'll be there and working when things go pear-shaped and you really need to get people on the problem quickly. To me that justifies telling the HR people and the managers "The company needs this. If you don't know how to run things this way, go start learning.".

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Assuming that its a real emergency and they actually want it fixed in a timely manner. When I worked for Boeing and supported some shop floor IT systems, we had the occasional panic. A page and message to get in right away. Several times, I'd call the number back and try to ask the nature of the problem. Perhaps it was something I could do logged in from home, sitting in my pajamas in 20 minutes. That was usually met with rage on the calling manager's part, as the whole point was to mobilize as large a grou

  • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @04:46PM (#53038741)
    I have worked in several companies where you were told to "get on with your work" if you were found talking to colleagues. It was completely unacceptable to find out what you are supposed to be doing, or explain the wretched comms protocol to the people trying to implement it. This might be a difference between the UK and the USA, I don't know.

    Just write the damned code there is no requirement for it to actually work seems to cross all cultures.

    Yes, productivity is higher if you don't keep being interrupted, but if you are off site, emails texts and even voice calls can always be used to destroy productivity if there is any risk of it actually happening.

    But its hard to operate CNC machines from home, and group hugs are also a problem for telecommuters.

  • by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson@gm a i l.com> on Saturday October 08, 2016 @04:55PM (#53038781) Journal

    Managers don't know enough about the ins and outs of the job, so they substitute butts warming seats instead of proper performance metrics.

    Other reasons, such as mentoring, are fullof sh*t. There's no reason a group of coders, documentation writers, even accountants, can't rotate meeting at each other's homes in small groups of 2 to 6 people, especially if they all live in the same area. This also takes care of the "communications work better in person", because sometimes having a frank discussion to find out what is bothering a co-worker isn't ever going to happen under the watchful eyes of everyone else.

    As for the "creativity happens in the hallway", first, consider the source. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer banned telecommuting, and Yahoo fell into the shitter - over and over and over. There is no reason for ANYONE to be stupid enough to write an article on October 4th, 2016 (the date of the article) with advice from Marissa Mayer, unless it's "How to ruin a business, screw over employees and shareholders, and collect a golden parachute". Seriouisly. WTF was Esther Schindler thinking? Or EditorDavid, for that matter?

    "Managing remote workers is harder" - sure, if you don't understand what they're doing, don't trust them, don't have a way to measure performance, and want to justify your job as a manager by being seen managing those chair-warming butts. Don't use the manager's incompetence as an excuse. It indicates that whoever hired the manager should also be fired.

    "It's more complicated." Aw, gee whiz. If you're going to use that excuse, put a gun in your mouth and eat a bullet. LIFE is complicated. Other companies can do it, managing nurses visiting patients in their homes, truck drivers on deliveries, any company that dispatches workers to the job. Anyone making the excuse that it is complicated should be ashamed of themselves,

    As for "we've always done it this way", we could have used the same excuse to keep the old outhouse around. Both are equally full of shit.

    Crap article by someone who is stuck in the past.

    • Actually, mentoring is a good reason.

      I do telecommute. If I'm assigned a new project, I almost always try to be atleast 50% at work when working on a new project, because it's so much easier to get a 5-second answer from a coworker than send a text or email that gets replied to who-knows-when. People-to-people interaction is much easier in the office.

      Don't agree that these interactions should be forced on you however - just that in-office work does strengthen your bonds.

      • Mentoring is best done one-on-one. Not in an office. People will be afraid to ask stupid questions, so everything gets screwed up. That alone is reason enough to get out of the office - go to a restaurant, pizza joint, donut shop - anywhere else.
      • by swalve ( 1980968 )
        You are the reason the rest of us want to get out of the office. Your 5 second question costs us minutes or hours of productivity. Being forced to write out your question in words forces you to consider the problem from a different angle.
    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
      Performance metrics have their limits. They can tell you if someone was done, but not done well. I have hugely complex projects that have been handling feature creep for years, the number of bugs can be counted on one hand. Other people have simple project littered with bugs. Their metrics look better because they're "getting more done", lots of bugs to fix.

      One of my managers, in his 20+ years of being in engineering, told me by all metrics, I am the slowest, but by results, I am the fastest.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Managers don't know enough about the ins and outs of the job, so they substitute butts warming seats instead of proper performance metrics.

      Even the good performance metrics would show that my productivity comes in squirts, I don't work on an assembly line where time equals work. I could have thought long and hard, designed and redesigned, made prototypes and tests but still not found a good solution or I could have done nothing at all. The difference is that I don't have any interest in faking time at the office, I'd still be stuck there. At home more time off would be more time off. If the reward goes up, the risk/reward ratio goes down. Some

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @05:05PM (#53038807)

    Every one of us living in a major metropolitan area deals with the stress and bullshit surrounding just getting to your workplace from home. Not only does commuting suck hours of productivity away from your employer (2 hours a day equates to 40 hours lost every month per FT employee), it also contributes to excess reliability and consumption of fuel within the economy, along with helping destroy the environment, primarily that air you're breathing every day living in the same area.

    Why not speak to what matters with companies, and provide considerable federal and/or state level tax breaks for every position that a company converts to 100% telecommuting.

    Beyond the environment and opening up productivity windows, this might be a model that enables companies to perhaps want to support a change that can easily be supported by technology today. Needless to say, I'm not buying the anti-communication reasons brought up in TFA. If we can rely on technology today to bond families over thousands of miles, I'm pretty sure we can build a simple professional relationship with a co-worker or boss.

    TL; DR - Federal/State level tax breaks for each corporate position converted to telecommuting, because technology can support it.

  • Poor managers will always use excuses why it won't work, but effective managers will always get the best out of every situation.
  • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @06:08PM (#53039047) Homepage Journal

    My company is pro-telecommuting. In fact, there is not a single member of staff that doesn't spend most of the week telecommuting.

    The way we ensure people are around and active though is that we track activities and work through an online kanban system tied into tickets (code commited to repositories is reported on tickets automatically, wiki documentation is tied in automatically too, office documents are also tied to tickets automatically using our storage system). Additionally, when employees are working, we sit in a push-to-talk enforced voice chat system, where we can easilly collaborate (unlike Slack, Hipchat and Skype for business, that either don't care about voice chat, or think that push-to-talk isn't necessary).

    A lot of tools that are being sold that are effective as telecommuting tools are pretty terrible and instead we've found many tools focused on online collaboration for consumers and gamers tend to be much better, which is absurd. I don't see most larger companies (I have worked in and with a few) ever considering adopting the better technologies because they're not "enterprisy", even though the vast majority can be tied into an AD at least (but maybe not single sign in).

    Because we are focused on telecommuting, even if we're in a office, we are logged into voice chat with headsets (which are typically gamer headsets because they're more comfortable for long hours). I just cannot see the corporate world adopting this, for people that join my company, it's a culture shock that some find difficult to adjust to at first and within the first week, they really struggle to understand how we consider it essential (and not just an occasional thing) to be on the headset when you're working or move to the AFK channel if you're not.

  • Remote work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stormcrow309 ( 590240 ) on Saturday October 08, 2016 @06:27PM (#53039131) Journal

    As someone who works for a large multi-national, trying to hold someone accountable that works for home is a pain in the rear. If they work in a remote office, I can ask someone to walk past their office and ask them to call or email. There are a lot of people who are good remote workers. However, almost none of them seem to work as developers and system admins. The couple of dozen or so that I have worked with while they have worked from home have been absolute pain in the neck, since they are passive aggressive little twerps.

    If you want to work from home. Prove you can work in the office, that your skillset is significantly better than others who could do you job and are willing to show up, and give a cost/benefit that matters to your management, not to you

  • All of the reasons given in this article are why you wouldn't want employees disappearing into the telecommuting ether forever, but why not two days a week? If tech employees were to do that, with in-office days properly synchronized by team, companies could save money without demolishing the company culture. Your city would benefit environmentally too.

  • I have had the opportunity a number of times and refused it. I have no desire whatsoever that an employer be able to consider that just because I work from home, my home is an extension of their environment. I worked 40/wk with the occasional on-call and that's as far as I wanted it to go. Every single workaholic that you interface with at the business now thinks that you're also available at all the hours they make themselves so. Nope, I am not. I have another life and it is sacrosanct.

    Vice versa, by

  • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @09:48AM (#53041749)

    I live 15 minutes away and rarely come in.

    It works well for us simply because we hire people who respect this freedom: we have core hours in which you are expected to respond to email, slack, phone calls. Missing meetings is not an option - you will attend over GTM. People are pretty professional. No gossiping or stuff like that.

    We realistically scope our work - an Agile shop, our two week sprints are rarely ever slipped, our stories are are rarely ever 5 points (Fibonacci). We usually make the goals that management and engineering agree to. While of course they ALWAYS want more, they have tasted the sweetness of perfectly predictable product release dates... and they like it.

    We also fire. Quickly. Not only is it a reminder to all that slackerdom is not tolerated... just one lazy apple can bring the whole thing down. So we end up working *very* solid 8 hour days. Rarely have to work overtime. It usually ends up feeling like a low grade constant crunch time, but is not so bad.

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