A Conversation for Tips on How to Make Commuting Bearable

what happened to teleworking?

Post 1

Fruitbat (Eric the)

About ten years ago, one of the possible options for labour in an office was to engage in teleworking....and that was before cable-modems and twin-processor Macs.
What happened to it?
The last thing I heard was that some major company in the States had instituted the programme for anyone who wanted to give it a go.....and many did. The result was that labour become more productive, had better family relationships (because one of the two partners was always home, even if they were 'working') and an immediate drop in personal stress.
(Of course, the obvious down-side was a lack of connection with colleagues - though some would argue that that's a strong plus- and a need for company....which led to an increasing desire for gatherings with mates after work.)
I don't know if any of that's possible with the kind of job you have; it may not be. But for one who's spent far too long commuting (at one point, I had to meet a bus at 530 am, connect with a ferry at 6:30 am, connect with another bus at 7:20 am and finally get to the office an hour before I had to be there....because that was the ferry schedule), almost anything is a welcome change.
No, I don't have children....though I want some. And before I do that, I'd probably build a life somewhere that was much more people-friendly than being in megalopolis where getting anywhere is inconvenient (yes, I know: which planet am I emigrating to?).

This kind of stuff is what technology's supposed to be good at solving. Aside from company directors/bosses who haven't worked out how to use a computer yet, why hasn't technology sorted this out?

I'd rather take the train/bus than drive into London anyway (aside form not having a car), driving is far more stressful than being driven, even when surrounded by other tense, sweating urban gits.

Fruitbat


what happened to teleworking?

Post 2

Trout Montague

Imgaine the jobless if teleworking took off!

Cleaners
Admin
Reception
The useless gits in IT
The people to service the drinks machine
Canteen
Groundkeepers

It won't happen.


what happened to teleworking?

Post 3

Cheerful Dragon

Another reason it won't happen is lack of trust by the bosses. If they can't see their staff, they have no reason to believe they are working.

There are certain kinds of work that can't be taken home, even if the technology is there. PC software can be written at home, but software for MoD applications can't because of security implications.

I would *love* to telework. I hate commuting, by car or any other means. My ideal job is one within 45 minutes drive of home, but I can't find a decent job in that area and I don't want to relocate.

Companies will always need offices as not everybody will want to, or be able to, telework. So there will always be some need (albeit reduced) for cleaners, receptionists, etc. If the Government is so keen to cut traffic, maybe they should offer incentives for companies that allow their employees to telework.


what happened to teleworking?

Post 4

Bellman

I'd love to telework too but we can't get broadband here. BT aren't doing our exchange and cable's only going in where houses are close together and they can sell sport and movies in bulk.


what happened to teleworking?

Post 5

Trout Montague

It's the economy stupid.

Someone much cleverer than me said that. I doubt.

A real economy based on resources, agriculture, and function requires people at the chalk-face. These people live near their work. Farmers, miners, factory-towns, cotton-mills, Lowrie, where there's muck there's brass.

Alternatively, a quasi-economy, like the UK's, requires people in front of screens. UK people don't need to commute ... it's just a way of taxing folk.

DMT


what happened to teleworking?

Post 6

Fruitbat (Eric the)

The joblessness of cleaners, vending machine people, etc. don't figure into anyone's calculations in business; look at how many mines (old economy) have shut down, leaving thousands destitute: owners/bosses don't care about the labour force. What they care about is low overheads and high(er) profits.

Imagine a society where people were feeling fulfilled because they were actually doing work that was meaningful to them. Then think of Trillian, with a Ph. D in astrophysics: she either takes off with Zaphod or faces the dole-queue on Mondays.

yes, there's something deeply disturbed/disturbing about the way this society's structured. Yes, teleworking is only for some people; the company must be willing to make the risk, the workers must be willing to give up conventions and adapt to the differences.
Really, the changes that many are fearful of won't be that big because only a few companies will be able to do this initially, and society's changing around them anyway.

(Have you noticed how many times the drinks machines are actually serviced?
(We could all do with a reduction in administration.....it might make companies a bit more responsive to their customers; canteens can only function if people are willing to spend money. I see only a few people doing the canteen regularly. Too many people can't afford that)

too many people have to be pressured into changing a routine/rut instead of seeing the long-term benefits and going for it voluntarily....which will force a change in the behaviour of companies, too.
I think teleworking will catch on again, once a few companies figure out that it's a viable way to go. There are ways for managers to keep track of employees with this system: it's in their interest to do so.

fruitbat


what happened to teleworking?

Post 7

KWDave

For the past year or so, I've been actively involved in what must be teleworking. Our company was purchased by an out of state corporation, and I've been doing all of my purchasing work with a team that sits 1,300 miles away. Aside from dealing with 100 emails a day, and no doubt a long-distance telephone bill that must crank into the thousands each month, it's not bad. If one of your co-workers is in a bad mood, you can communicate exclusively by email. I don't think it has negatively affected my contacts with associates. And we certainly get mountains of work done. So I'm all for it. Of course, my commute is a five minute walk to work. It's a small island, you know.


what happened to teleworking?

Post 8

Fruitbat (Eric the)

I think you may be one of the fortunate few whose company is using digital technology effectively; too many aren't....or won't.

Fruitbat


what happened to teleworking?

Post 9

Researcher 220163

The theme should be to reduce communting - rather than trying to make a bad practice bearable.

Teleworking - yes - it does require a bit of a shift in culture in an organisation -but it is happening. Most studies show an improvement in motivation, and the 'lack of trust' thing isn't the big issue.

Just as importantly - anything which reduces the ridiculous imbalance of London - sucking the life out of other parts of hte country - has to be a good thing. I lived the London thing - but found it too much hassle, too dirty, too claustrophobic. I now work from home - 3 days a week, in London maybe 2 days a week.

Remember teleworking doesn't have to be 5 days a week at home. Even one or two days can make a big difference to quality of life - quality thinking time out of office, away from reactive email, works too.

Jobs of the cleaners and vending machine people? I now have time to play tennis - tennis coach gets my custom once or twice a week; I still go out for coffee - local shop gets my business. I feel I can actually participate in myu local community - rather than leaving it at 7.30am and getting back there 12 hours later.

I can also start work early, (say 7am) and finish early in the summer - say 3pm - and get some sailing in as I live near the coast.
Who'd commute??!!


what happened to teleworking?

Post 10

Fruitbat (Eric the)

....not to mention going to work in a dressing-gown if the mood struck you.

Thanks,

Fruitbat


what happened to teleworking?

Post 11

Researcher 220224

Gahhh... I've been teleworking for six months. Guess what? Every last shred of self discipline has been slowly flensed away by the seductions of broadband internet connectivity from home, and the fact that in my job as an animator, my work PC is, perforce, a serious games rig as well.

So, starting as soon as this current hideously late project gets put to bed, I shall be finding myself some in-house work until I remember why I wanted to work from home in the first place. That, of course, and remembering how to interact with people on a day-to-day basis.

*twitch* It's a lovely idea, but sheer loneliness will drive you to nattering on every instant messaging service from AOL to some messaging service beginning with Z. Zebus Online. Something. You get the picture?


what happened to teleworking?

Post 12

Fruitbat (Eric the)

Yeah...I do. That's one of the drawbacks to teleworking...or working from home in general that's kinda been left up to those who choose it.

Since we're born into a society that's structured a given way, we really don't have to think too much about how our social-structures are set up....only about when the hands on the clock are in the right positions.
The changes wrought by teleworking, or working at home in some other job, have to be worked out individually at the moment because society still hasn't caught on to the idea.....not en-mass, anyway.
If you're willing to put up with the reduction in social-intercourse, in the short-term, the long term benefits will become visible. This is similar to having to work nights while everyone else sleeps: screws everything up for a while.
Writers have struggled with this one for years....the need/want of company combined with the need/want of isolation to work well. At the moment, we have to solve this one ourselves.

Maybe you could break ground on the research about what works and what doesn't.

Fruitbat


what happened to teleworking?

Post 13

KWDave

Citing Hemingway, Capote, and Tennessee Williams, all three said that they got up and wrote first thing in the morning, every morning. Never took a day off. This then freed them up for whatever they cared to do for the rest of the day. Seems like a good plan to me. None of them seemed to have a measurable standard of what a day's work had to be, they just got up and wrote. Whatever was completed in a certain time period was turned in to the editor, and life went on.

I expect that this is an earned schedule. Once you have a best seller, you can pretty much set your own hours...


what happened to teleworking?

Post 14

KWDave

And I think my biggest problem with this sort of work would be learning to resist the urge to turn on the television. No matter that there's really nothing on but info-mercials, it just has to be nattering away in the background.


what happened to teleworking?

Post 15

Bellman

I've found Radio 2 to be the ideal background matter. No need to pay any attention to it, it just masks out the rest of the world. I just have to remember to turn it down when a support call comes through.


what happened to teleworking?

Post 16

Les - Sole Representative of the Manifestations of the One True Tigger <boing>

Weeks late with this, but I had problems with a time warp, or something. Either that, or I just noticed the subject...

I'm ever so slightly smiley - huh by the suggestion that an increase in teleworking will make the "useless gits in IT" lose their jobs...

Speaking as a useless git, sorry, IT person, myself, I find that teleworking *increases* the workload for IT, mainly because the first people to telework tend to be those least capable of using computers. Or indeed biros.[1]

Oh the joys of providing technical support to remote users! Oh, the dents in my desk from when I have to bang my head after a particularly "interesting" call!


[1] I'm sure this is a fundamental law of the universe


what happened to teleworking?

Post 17

KWDave

Let us now coin a term for the fact that technology is most often needed by those least equipped to use it, or at least in inverse proportion to their ability to understand it. Or worse, late-adopters who know that something can be done, by someone who knows how to do it, if only they would drop out of the sky and offer assistance, for free.


what happened to teleworking?

Post 18

Cheerful Dragon

I have a feeling that I'm going to gain a reputation for being the 'fount of all wisdom' when it comes to computer applications - even ones I've never used before. I recently had a temping 'assignment' at a company where the men had little knowledge of any of the packages they were using. On several occasions they called on me for help. On one occasion it was for help with PowerPoint, which I have little experience with. On the other occasion, it was for help with Lotus Notes, which I have never used in my life. On every occasion, I was able to solve there problem.

As the manager said, I may not be experienced in all the packages, but I do know the right questions to ask to find the solution to the problem!


what happened to teleworking?

Post 19

KWDave

It has very often been said that the biggest key to a successful life is the ability to read and follow instructions. Good for you for asking the right questions, and better yet, getting paid for it.


what happened to teleworking?

Post 20

Fruitbat (Eric the)

I'm having to smirk a bit about those who have trouble with the technology.....given the irrational passion that most people have for the most unstable, least user-friendly system after punch-cards vanished: the PC.

We wouldn't need half the IT service people if PCs were as easy to use and worked as well as Macs do (yes, I'm one of THOSE people). Nor would the late-adopters be struggling to the degree that they are.....though they'd still have to learn the OS (which would take about half the time and be much easier).

A year or so ago I read an on-line article, posted by a Japanese chap (or someone in Japan, anyway) suggesting that many company IT-managers keep buying the PC rubbish to keep themselves employed; has nothing to do with the effectiveness of the technology.

Given how many people are affected by commuting, and are usually struggling to stay relatively sane with conventional travel anyway, what has to happen before society decides that enough's enough and makes the change?

Fruitbat


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