Figure 1: A view of the weather and the inside of my head…
A fair amount of snow today (though I know other places will get it much worse) and consequently everything is much slower than usual. This includes my thinking. I think I used up most of my energy just getting into work. This makes me think again of how we define when we are working and when we aren’t. It probably would have been much more efficient for me to have worked from home, rather than fighting my way into the office via public transit.
This is the crux of the issue with work. The paradigm is still that of an employee going to a factory to work a spot on the assembly line. You have to be present or your part of the work won’t get done. In addition, you need to be present when everyone else is present so you can receive work from your colleague just up from you in the assembly line and, subsequently, you can hand of your work to the next person in line.
This paradigm is reinforced and supported by the fact that our tools are only partially mobile. Yes, I can lug my work laptop home for days I want to work remotely but the best solution would be a tool set I can access anywhere with whatever machine I have on hand. This would also support working remotely in an unplanned way, such as when your child is sick and you need to at least be home to watch them. Right now, I’m over a barrel if an emergency comes up and I don’t want to take an unpaid day off. To be absolutely prepared, I would have to commute back and forth everyday with the work machine in my possession whether or not I need or want to work from home the following day.
Yes, I know you sometimes you need to be able to speak to your colleagues face-to-face. This is about the only reason we should commute into the office at least part of the time. However, until we really embrace being able to work wherever we want and whenever we want we’ll never get set up in a way that supports a truly flexible workplace.