In theory, telework is a brilliant idea. Disaggregating your workforce to hundreds of different locations means your not necessarily subject to a single point of failure that could shut down operations. Power out at the home office? No problem. Half the workforce can log in from home, Starbucks, Nevis, or really any place with an internet connection. It’s the kind of idea that give planners a warm fuzzy when faced with how to prepare for typhoons, earthquakes, or terrorists bent on leveling your building. It’s one of those things that’s probably more brilliant in concept than in reality. On the whole, I tend to think most people generally want to do the right thing most of the time. But how many of your average employees are going to be able to resist the temptations that face them when they’re working from home or some other location – throw in a quick load of laundry, change the baby’s diaper, or making just a quick trip to the supermarket. I mean after all, no one will know you’re gone and you’ll be right back anyway. No harm no foul, right?
As an employee, I love the idea of telework if for no other reason than the very idea that being tethered to a desk eight hours a day equals a productive work week. The technology available has moved us beyond the need for dedicated office space for a great many kinds of work. Human nature being what it is, though, I suspect most people might just be more productive if they have someone looking over their shoulder from time to time… but personally, I’d rather sit at home in my fuzzy slippers and get eight hours of work done in three and call the rest of the day “research.”
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.