Commuting Vs. Telecommuting

By Ram Mohan Rao Published Date
01 - Jul - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Jul - 2007
Commuting Vs. Telecommuting
We'd all love to work from home...who would prefer to come all the way to office and sit in a cubicle, right? But is there a good reason most companies do it that way?

Another boring day at the office...

1. Insomnia. Late for the 8:37 local train. Stickful of data in my pocket, and no money for the beggars. Look up and you see ads for piles treatment (perish the thought!). Look down and you see shoes. Lots of pairs.

2. The usual squabbling with Editor/Ed (about being late) later, I get down to work. I put up last night's work on the server. Two people have been waiting for these files-a little impatiently, and they're glad now. Things can resume.

3. There are five distinct groups here-the writers, the copy editors, the testers, and the design and layout teams. (Unless you count Ed as a group in himself.) Verbal data needs to flow between these, and that demands a physical presence. Stifled, though, I feel; I may not move long and far from this cubicle, and all talk around me revolves around work. Not nice.

4. It's 5:30, and I'm already thinking of the sweaty commute back. Some more uploading and surfing later, I'm ready to leave, data on stick. (They don't even give me a laptop. Yes, I'm complaining.)

5. Look up and you see ads for piles treatment. Look down and you see shoes. Lots of pairs. They're scruffier now.

Functionality 4.5  (Nothing's perfect)
Fun: 2 (Same old)

...ah! The comforts of home!

1. I'd thought I'd wake early, what with no Ed to explain things to, but I get up late anyway-later I realise that this is because Ed on the phone is usually the alarm. A breakfast later, I'm at my desk, AC at 22 degrees, and classical music from 360 degrees (got to love 5.1).

2. E-mail isn't dying anytime soon: piece after piece of work is processed and sent and received via e-mail. Communication is mostly with Ed. There's a little bit of IM-ing too. There's the occasional phone call. A goodish deal of work later, I'm ready for a snooze.

3. Ed calls, wakes me up, and the words that follow are unprintable. Someone has one version of a file, someone has another: which one to use? A while later comes another frantic call: "Where's that file?" "I sent it over an hour ago." "No you didn't." "Oh sorry, here it is. Heh."

4. No balance left even for a missed call. I mail Ed to call me. I think someone wants another file, and I'm not sure which version I should mail across, and to whom.

5. End of day, some not-insignificant time has been wasted, and people have had to run around a bit because I wasn't there. But I'm enjoying the music.

Functionality:  3 (Mailing to ask to call?)
Fun:  5 (Some things are perfect.)

And The Winner Is...
A luxury is a luxury, and let's leave it at that-for now. An office needs to be set up for one, some, or more people to be able to work from home. The current system won't do. Wiki, perhaps? And yes, it'd be even better if they gave me a laptop to use on the commute.
But the naps, the fridge, the AC the way I like it-those are good things. Old Way wins in functionality, and Tech Way wins in fun. But fun always comes second. ("There's no 'fun' in 'functionality'"-an amusing paradox.)

Ram Mohan RaoRam Mohan Rao