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Striving to Keep Teleworkers Happy

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the it-is-always-casual-day-at-home dept.

Communications 146

coondoggie writes "Employees who work from home or in remote branch offices often feel disconnected from corporate life and worry they will be forgotten and bypassed for promotions. Managers and employees have to make a concerted effort to stay in touch, experts say. At IBM, Pelino and others set out to improve corporate culture. The company sparked new life into an old tradition: IBM Club, which brings together employees for intramural sports, picnics, movies and other types of social, cultural and recreational activities."

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hmm, interesting, but... (-1, Troll)

piggay (1039618) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231236)

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Don't worry. (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231238)

> Employees who work from home or in remote branch offices often feel disconnected from corporate life and worry they will be forgotten and bypassed for promotions.

Don't worry. So do the people who work at the head office.

Carpal Tunnel & Tool to Measure Typing Rate (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17231390)

My hands are beginning to exhibit the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. I need to slow down my typing, but my immediate manager has expressed an expectation that my project be completed in a limited amount of time, thus requiring my typing rate to accelerate and thus aggravating my symptoms of carpal tunnel.

I have grown concerned about the typing rate and want to manage it in an objective way. Is there a software utility that can be run in the background that records peak and average rates of typing, measured in characters per second? The utility should be able to record the total number of typed characters and to be switched on and off (so that I can measure only the characters that I type for the project).

I am thinking of presenting the measurements to the manager (to prove that I am exceeding reasonable expectations of effort on the project) and to a physician. I am getting close to a point when I may need to see a physician. The symptoms are becoming worse by the day.

Re:Carpal Tunnel & Tool to Measure Typing Rate (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17232042)

maybe it is time to not spend all day posting to slashdot then - dumbass.

Re:Carpal Tunnel & Tool to Measure Typing Rate (3, Insightful)

Mateito (746185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232304)

Do you have Carpal Tunnel or just muscular strain.

You should go and see a physician immediately... not post to slashdot.

Your company will have insurance against this, but you need to show that you sought medical help appropriately or the insurer may find ground to refuse payment.

Re:Carpal Tunnel & Tool to Measure Typing Rate (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17232506)

Well played, sir. Only a teleworker who's obsessed with his work could simultaneously get FP and be on topic. If I hadn't burned my last mod point on him, I'd mod you up too :)

Re:Don't worry. (5, Insightful)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231500)

Do teleworkers actually think they'll receive promotions? At the companies I've worked for, 9 times out of 10 the teleworker is working from home to have a better work/life balance, not because the employer asked them to. As bad as it sounds, promotions typically come to those who are willing to drop everything for their employer.

Re:Don't worry. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17231618)

DING! DING! DING! He got the right answer!

Exactly. Anyone that thinks you get promoted for good work is a nutcase.

you get promoted by knowing people, smoozing the executives, sacrificing your family and life for the company.

Anyone that puts family or themselves first NEVER get promoted.

Yes, I do know that this is fact, I was there and did that. 2 marriages and my health lost before I realized that climbing the corporate ladder is not worth it in any way. Yeah you get the 6900 Sq foot house on the golf course, the pair of Z06 vettes in the garage and that BMW 7 series.... but all you get to do is look at pictures of that stuff and maybe visit it 2 weekends a month, except the BMW that you drove into the ground at 260,000 miles in 7 years to only impress the other guys at work and honestly is no better than a decent buick but cost you a crapload more and lost 90% of it's value. Oh dont forget you are nearly eyeball in debt because you have to have that "image" working!

Promotion? that's their nice way of saying "Hey we would like to screw you harder while making you say thanks!"

Upper manager jobs get filled by friends. Not by hard work or skills. I chased that herring for 14 years.

Get a decent paying job AWAY from the big cities where a house is sanely priced, cost of living is sane and you can live 15 minutes from work (GASP!) your life is better. FAR BETTER.. I'll take a $44,000 a year job in a small town over a $250,000 year job in the city any day.

Re:Don't worry. (2, Interesting)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232618)

Get a decent paying job AWAY from the big cities where a house is sanely priced, cost of living is sane and you can live 15 minutes from work (GASP!) your life is better. FAR BETTER.. I'll take a $44,000 a year job in a small town over a $250,000 year job in the city any day.

Housing is more expensive in the city. Then again, salaries are higher. And, yes, you can live 15 minutes away from work - if you're lucky, you won't even have to drive in. As far as the corporate ladder, there are plenty of opportunities with small companies in the cities and opportunities to start your own business. In fact, with a large density of potential clients in the area, finding clients seems to be easier than in BFE.

-b.

Re:Don't worry. (5, Interesting)

Zephyr14z (907494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232634)

"Anyone that puts family or themselves first NEVER get promoted." I completely disagree. I have yet to give two shits about any company I've worked for, and usually get promoted pretty quickly. Office space has it right. Just a straight shooter with upper management written all over me, I guess. You're definitely right about good work having zero to do with promotions, though. Talking with your boss(es) instead of working is generally more to your advantage.

Some places are better than that (3, Informative)

msobkow (48369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232960)

I've worked several companies that not only encourage telework, they require it. Most people call it "tech support", and making yourself available in that capacity is not a bad thing for the career. It just means you spend your life carrying pagers and cell phones, contractually guaranteeing response times that tie you close to home and network.

But face time is important. If no one sees you or knows what you do, you don't exist. Come budget time, neither does your paycheque.

Re:Don't worry. (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232968)

Surely it's only fair that the most committed people get the best jobs? If you were sacrificing yourself for the company, you'd be pretty pissed off if you were passed over for promotion and it was given to a relative part-timer who just sees it as a source of income.

Re:Don't worry. (2, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231644)

at a company like IBM they have many Field Service or Support Engineers spread out where they live in their geographic region, but might report to the office 100 miles away. They're either fielding calls from all over the world for their specialty, or they're running from customer to customer...

My Brother and his wife did the Sales and Training thing for a while.. the company was in OK.. so each person worked from home and flew to the customer all over the world. Unfortunately, they had many of the same issues... disconnected from the office by living near family.. but flying all over so they never see family either!!

Re:Don't worry. (4, Interesting)

gmack (197796) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231822)

As bad as it sounds, promotions typically come to those who are willing to drop everything for their employer.

I can tell you that statement is actually quite often crap. Working extra hours and dropping all sense of personal life for your employer is like putting a giant sign on your forehead that says DOORMAT. Why should they promote you and pay you more when they can pay you exactly what your getting now for the same price?. Aside from that it shows you have no backbone and therefore no leadership abilities. If you can't stand up for yourself now how will you stand up to people under you?

This is a lesson I learned the hard way. I used to spend all my free time at work and put in whatever hours the boss asked for. Now I find I get taken much more seriously now that I have learned to stand up for myself.

Re:Don't worry. (2, Insightful)

Timothy Chu (2263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232188)

> I used to spend all my free time at work and put in whatever hours the boss asked
> for. Now I find I get taken much more seriously now that I have learned to stand
> up for myself.

I think that you can only now stand up for yourself BECAUSE you put in your time and got the experience. Anybody who starts a job without demonstrating their skills/dedication/etc to the job is not going to be taken seriously.

Re dormat analogy is so true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17232942)

I've gotten alot more respect (and a recent promotion) at work because I've told off people a lot higher up than I have by doing what I'm told and working really hard... in the end this makes sense... you're working on stuff thats super-complicated and only the guy with his hands deep in the work really understands all the intricate problems that exist... would you rather have an unthinking automaton drive happily off a cliff, or someone who says "hey, shit-for-brains... thats a bad idea, maybe we should do something else" if you have a good boss they'll realize that a little backbone is a good thing.

Re:Re dormat analogy is so true (1)

RKBA (622932) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233194)

I used to work for a company that regularly and intentionally made schedules too short to complete on time so that they could *require* salaried employees to work evenings and weekends for free.

Re:Re dormat analogy is so true (1)

rifter (147452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233644)

I used to work for a company that regularly and intentionally made schedules too short to complete on time so that they could *require* salaried employees to work evenings and weekends for free.

And I'd like to hear who doesn't. Most companies see salary as a method whereby they no longer have to pay overtime and can therefore manage cost while still requireing overtime. That's essentially what a salary is. You've agreed that whatever is required to do your job is worth $X/year rather than $X/hour. Though these days it's no better on the hourly side. More and more companies seem to find excuses for only "budgeting" for 40 hours per week while finding various ways to require more than that, complete with plausible deniability since they'll say when asked "oh of course we would never require you to work hours for which you are not paid."

So feel lucky, salariman at least you got what you agreed to.

Re:Don't worry. (1)

mr_nuff (212669) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232950)

Anecdotally, I think this illustrates the difference between a good company and a bad company. If Megacorp A promotes those that actually excel at their given position, and Megacorp B promotes based on who you know in the corporate food chain whilst dedicating your life to running the corporate treadmill, guess which Megacorp will come out ahead in the end? Unfortunately, I work at Megacorp B ;)

Re:Don't worry. (1)

rifter (147452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233670)

Anecdotally, I think this illustrates the difference between a good company and a bad company. If Megacorp A promotes those that actually excel at their given position, and Megacorp B promotes based on who you know in the corporate food chain whilst dedicating your life to running the corporate treadmill, guess which Megacorp will come out ahead in the end? Unfortunately, I work at Megacorp B ;)

Megacorp A becomes infested with wastrel bastards masquerading as leaders (managers) who bring in the policies of Megacorp B. They might even be nice enough to couch some of in in terms of employing new industry standards or following a leader in the market. In any case those who have gained their position through subterfuge, sinecure, and sycophancy abhor the rise of those who have real merit. They protect themselves by promoting people like themselves and keeping the rest down. Because of this they tend to take over once they have a foothold, like cockroaches or mice. Hail the PHB overlords! :P

Re:Don't worry. (1)

zullnero (833754) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233386)

However, that logic strangely enough doesn't apply to telecommuters.

You really do get forgotten. I telecommute quite a bit of my own work, and oftentimes, when I show up, coworkers are shocked and think that I had quit the company some time before. When that becomes the prevailing thought, then generally, no, in meetings people aren't going to be thinking about you and your great accomplishments.

Re:Don't worry. (3, Insightful)

macp (1039680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233026)

I had traditional office and was booted out as part of a company cost saving measure. Coworkers that sat on company sites or at customer sites were also asked to work from home. Sometimes working from home is NOT a personal choice, and it has its positive or negative ramifications for the employee and his or her family, the customers and the company. It's a myth that working from home always brings you better work/life balance -- it often negatively affects work/life balance, in that your home is your office, and you never seem to get to leave it. It's especially bad for those people who just can't turn their minds off at the end of the day OR are on 24x7 call -- you can easily go from working a 40 hr. week to working 50 or 60 without ever getting out of your pajamas. It becomes a corporate expectation, and about the time it gets personally ridiculous is when you start having to manage the details of your life ("been on the frigging phone since 5am, I guess I'll take a shower between my 10:30 and 11am call?") around your work to keep the global outsourcers from clawing after your job... which they'll do anyway if you're 100% remote.

I admit that working from home gives employees *some* flexibility in their schedules, depending on their job roles, but I think a lot of people put in more hours at their kitchen table or desk than at the office in conference rooms or around the water cooler (figuratively speaking), not to mention the commute time. It torques me to hear people complain about home office workers like they don't do $#!% all day while they're yukking it up in somebody's office, wasting their own little 9 to 5 away.

Why I telework.... and get promotions! (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17234094)

I live more than is easy to drive every day, which is my primary reason to telecommute. Other reasons: better lifestyle. Less interruption and cube noise means better productivity, which means I look worthy of promotiion. Phones & internet keep me as well connected as I need to be. I have an easy excuse to duck out of meetings I want to avoid. I can conf call in and still do something useful, or maybe sit in the sun while the rest of the participants sit in a stuffy room.

Not Again.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17231816)

Here come the "corporate culture" wonks, yet again. I love how an entire industry of HR consultants and managers have bought into, and actively promote, this notion of corporate culture as something that can be "improved" or changed. Generally it only goes downhill over the long run once these kinds of initiatives are enacted, because most people see it to be what it really is: a feeble attempt at controlling employees emotions and psychology to make them feel personally accountable for business success or failure. Let me know how that works out and how you feel after the next round of layoffs...

Re:Don't worry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17232164)

I heard companies like yahoo is now embracing telecommuting more these days.. see http://ibooyah.com/ [ibooyah.com] for details.

Re:Don't worry. (1)

slashthedot (991354) | more than 7 years ago | (#17234074)

I feel disconnected because I work from home only when I need to sleep.

A promotion would be nice.. (5, Interesting)

LeddRokkenstud (945664) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231272)

But if a promotion didn't come, I wouldn't be upset. As a teleworker for a local staffing service, I save enough money on gas alone. I have the comfort of my own bathroom, the comfort of my own house, and the comfort of my World of Warcraft video game on my breaks. I really wouldn't trade that to have to travel to the office every day and interact with people, even if it means never getting promoted.

Re:A promotion would be nice.. (1)

biocute (936687) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231300)

I think that's the idea.

If one really wants to climb the corporate ladder, one should really be in the office, this is not only for the additional exposure and attention, but also for the opportunities to gossip and receive extra insider information.

Re:A promotion would be nice.. (1)

mungtor (306258) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231510)

Exactly. Even the "coming into the office" part means that you are willing to put forth effort that other people are not. If you have some skill on top of that, you should be considered for a promotion before somebody who doesn't maintain physical presence. Not because it means your better, but a large part of managing effectively means that people are able to find you when they need you.

Re:A promotion would be nice.. (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233914)

this is not only for the additional exposure and attention, but also for the opportunities to gossip and receive extra insider information.


The ones that get the promotions are the ones sitting with the boss at his beach house doing lines off his wifes chest creating the insider information to gossip about.

My Eyes! Ze Googgles, they do naathing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17231818)

and the comfort of my World of Warcraft video game on my breaks

Aiiiiieeee. Give your eyes a break once in a while!

Disconnected from corporate life... (1)

t00le (136364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231290)

...which brings together employees for intramural sports, picnics, movies and other types of social, cultural and recreational activities."

So you mean I may have to hang out with all of the peeps in Accounting AND Bookkeeping!?!?

Sounds like a good chance for PFY and I to take care of those numerous denied expenses from my last expense report all in one swoop. ;)

Re:Disconnected from corporate life... (4, Funny)

locokamil (850008) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231326)

I agree. Managing strip club + hooker expenses via email/phone is simply too difficult.

Much easier to broach the subject over a friendly game of tennis.

Re:Disconnected from corporate life... (1)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232106)

Breek and sprorts?

Re:Disconnected from corporate life... (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231394)

Sounds like a good chance for PFY and I to take care of those numerous denied expenses from my last expense report all in one swoop. ;)

Oh boy! Another TLA I had to GGL!

Re:Disconnected from corporate life... (1)

Shads (4567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231598)

Not a TLA BEI is BOFH.

Re:Disconnected from corporate life... (1)

macp (1039680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233078)

On a serious note, why would the employee bother to go to a regional club event when none of their coworkers or management lived in their region? To hang out with a bunch of people they don't know, and that don't know them from Adam? That doesn't build a stronger work group. Then again I never believed in that "let's network :D" crap in the first place.

another opportunity for 'sports' (3, Insightful)

hotrodman (472382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231304)

Yay.. Another opportunity to have the athletic drag the non-athletic of us into 'competitions'. I'm not even fat or out of shape....just tired of Little Leagues that extend into your golden years...
  - E

Re:another opportunity for 'sports' (5, Insightful)

Xaria (630117) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231374)

I think you've got the wrong attitude there. Don't see it as a "competition" - see it as a chance to have fun with your workmates. If you look at it as an opportunity rather than a drag then not only will you have a good time, but you might actually get a positive outcome. Turning up to this sort of thing meant my face appeared on the radar of senior management. In a social environment your more unusual abilities can be discussed.

Re:another opportunity for 'sports' (1)

hotrodman (472382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231694)

Maybe you have had better experiences than me.....but I have really tried. I have a bad attitude for sure, but only from years and years of putting up with same old shit. That, and I have plenty of social interaction outside work, and prefer to keep work and everything else separated. But of course, YMMV.

Re:another opportunity for 'sports' (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232646)

I think you've got the wrong attitude there. Don't see it as a "competition" - see it as a chance to have fun with your workmates.

I bike, I ski, I hike. But I just look silly playing "catch the ball" for some reason and am not very much good at it[1]. I want to be able to do sports that *I* like, not the sports that others tell me that I *should* like.

[1]- possibly due to a brain infection of unknown origin as an infant that caused temporary paralysis.

-b.

Re:another opportunity for 'sports' (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232804)

Absolutely correct, because it's always all about you.

Re:another opportunity for 'sports' (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232990)

Absolutely correct, because it's always all about you.

Does my playing (or not playing) of ball games benefit the company in any way? Make them money? If the answer is no, then STFU and don't tell me what activities I *should* enjoy in my *free* (yes, free to do whatever I want to with it within the law!) time. This is not the USSR ca. 1950 when everyone had to go to the mass meetings and be a good Party man or be ostracized or possibly jailed.

-b.

Re:another opportunity for 'sports' (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17233928)

>This is not the USSR
The Cold War's over, man! We live in AMURICUH! STFU FACIST BOSS I DONT WANNA PLAY SPORTS THIS IS AMURICUH!

Honestly, lighten up. They aren't forcing you to do anything. If you don't want to play softball, don't play softball. Don't get pissed about the company spending resoruces to provide you, the workers, with a break from the every day grind. Maybe you'll even find out that a few co-workers are alright guys after all.

Worse still .... those trust sessions (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17234110)

Where you all get together and let someone from marketing do some face painting on you or play silly kindergarten games.

If senior management only looks for people that can play silly games, and don't have the ability to identify real talents that make their company work.... well that company is going to be pretty fucked.

Re:another opportunity for 'sports' (4, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231502)

In the military we call it Mandatory Fun.

Re:another opportunity for 'sports' (5, Funny)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231800)

It's a fine line...you have to look like a competitor in order to be thought well of by the Fantasy Football League morons but also remember to throttle back your game so that you don't show up your boss in front of everyone. I made that mistake once.

The first year I was working for a former employer, I beat my boss's boss out for first place in a charity road bicycle race. In all honesty, while I knew that the general rule is that you're not supposed to beat the boss, he had been going on and on for weeks about how he "hoped that he would have some real competition."

I've been racing bicycles competitively for years, so there was no doubt in my mind that I could beat him. But I thought that I would just lay back the whole race and then act like I was going to challenge him on the last hill but let him win. Unfortunately, he wasn't quite as good a cyclist as he had been letting on, and halfway up the hill he pulled off to the side and puked.

Needless to say, my employment there was short-lived.

Re:another opportunity for 'sports' (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232172)

best stroy evar

Re:another opportunity for 'sports' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17232922)

Needless to say, my employment there was short-lived.

Well, DUH! Next time, you fall over and start bleeding. Sheesh, showing up the boss by not puking...

Ex: IBM'er, comments may contain opinions! (5, Insightful)

jeaster (600452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231342)

This is one of the reasons I finally left IBM. While I worked in RTP, at an IBM campus, I loved it. Surrounded by IBMer's, there were lots of activities and clubs for us to use. Once I moved to a customer site, all that disappeared. Left in a supply closet, reviled by the customer and IBM alike, we festered. Job satisfaction dropped, and so did that feeling of belonging to IBM. Add into that the drastic cost cutting IBM has implemented, and things generally sucked. We all stopped going into the office because of gas prices, and roving bands of irate customers. IBM made no effort to get the local people together. Now that they are trying to breathe "new life into an old tradition: IBM Club" I predict the same old same old. This "club" in unfunded, ignored, and generally cast aside. IBM needs to start investing again in people, not gimmicks and cheerleading.

Re:Ex: IBM'er, comments may contain opinions! (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231518)

No, cheerleading implies cheerleaders.
IBM should invest in cheerleading.

Yeah, this'll work out well... (4, Funny)

CyanDisaster (530718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231358)

...At IBM, Pelino and others set out to improve corporate culture. The company sparked new life into an old tradition: IBM Club, which brings together employees for intramural sports, picnics, movies and other types of social, cultural and recreational activities...

Wouldn't it be ironic that the people it is intended to bring together might not hear about it because the notices for those activites is posted in the lunchroom?

Why yes. I am an optimist. Why do you ask?

Hope be with ye,
Cyan

Presence does not matter, there is no there there (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231370)

My manager lives in a different time zone, her manager lives in a different time zone from here, and so on until we find the manager who lives on another continent. See there is no there there.

Re:Presence does not matter, there is no there the (1)

mungtor (306258) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231468)

And often that is horribly inefficient. Unclear instructions left for you in the morning (your time) may have to wait until the next day to be clarified. Unless it is standard practice to drag people out of bed at all hours of the night.

Re:Presence does not matter, there is no there the (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231684)

You haven't meet the efficency of the BlackBerry/cellphone combo!!! The IBM CEs I work with don't have offices... probably don't even sit at a desk... between the blackberry/cellphone and laptop, they "go to work" at their first customer of the day and are "done when they're done". Everything is remote... orders, calls, parts ordering, callouts... It's quite slick... but they keep those guys brutally busy.

Re:Presence does not matter, there is no there the (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232546)

You're both right. Work that's mobile, task and work order based is very efficient this way. Work that's more collaborative, more project oriented is a lot harder. I have never met any of my last 5 managers in person. I think it's a disadvantge to me personally, careerwise. The upside is that no one really cares the hours I keep.

Re:Presence does not matter, there is no there the (1)

rifter (147452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233736)

And often that is horribly inefficient. Unclear instructions left for you in the morning (your time) may have to wait until the next day to be clarified. Unless it is standard practice to drag people out of bed at all hours of the night.

Oh no you don't get off that lucky. Because the unclear instructions contain an unclear deadline that is hours away if that (a time is given without a time zone...) and the wiseass that sent said instructions is asleep on the other side of the world, and is your boss. Best make do with what you can come up with because if you wait until they are up again to ask you will be too late to keep your job. On the bright side you'll have plenty of time to find a new job then.

40% of IBM's employees are sales or on site cons (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17231388)

Nice little spin there by IBM -- its been my experience that 40% of IBM's workforce is now in sales and / or on site constractors. I hardly call being put up in a hotel and working at a client site "telecommuting"

Spin (5, Interesting)

Khel (34966) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231402)

As someone that was an IBM employee and still knows people that work at IBM I can tell you that this is mostly spin. Moving people to work from home is all about the mighty dollar. IBM saves quite a bit in expenses by having people work from home. Also, IBM doesn't really care that much about it's U.S. workforce as it is primarily interested in moving jobs to India. The last announced goal for the workforce in India is 40,000 employees. Little hiring is being done at all in the U.S. by IBM while attrition continually reduces the U.S. numbers.

Re:Spin (2, Interesting)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231706)

The telecommuters are the ones with the most secure jobs... because IBM NEEDS them to be geographically close to the customers. It's the people that are doing all the leg work. Unfortunately that would be really bad SO disconnected. I'm not a people person, but when I'm left completely alone and ignored even by the boss, my disposition goes downhill fast... the kind of slide maxed out on Prozac can stop... It's the main thing that's kept me from traveling jobs even though I'd be REALLY good at it.

Re:Spin (2, Interesting)

siegesama (450116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232780)

Different kind of telecommuter here. In this case, we've just been moved from cubes back into our own homes. No traveling, no customers. Just doing the work that would normally be done from the cube farm. Almost all communication is via email and IM, with the occasional conference call thrown in.

The team I've been working with lately is all based out of Poughkeepsie, and I live near RTP. A VPN connection is cheaper for my department than office rental, network port rental, and phone port rental, so it's encouraged

Every now and then I wake up and feel very disoriented (like those old dreams of being late for school, not knowing about what your homework was, or what classes you need to be in), and will have a sort of panic attack, because I'll feel like I've just forgotten to go to work. That's a bizarre feeling to have, and it's hard to shake.

Also, it's hard to separate where work stops and life begins. Especially if you spend a lot of time on the internet anyway. I'm always signed on to Sametime, 24/7, and check my work email as often as my regular email. I effectively live in my work now. That's got to be a great deal for IBM!

Re:Spin (2, Interesting)

scromp (148280) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233008)

I also work from home most of the time. You would benefit, I think, by setting aside a "work area," and even "work computers." When 5pm (or whenever you like to quit) hits, leave that area and don't look back until the next day. I'm not saying you shouldn't goof off on the net while working, but don't goof off working after hours. It makes a world of difference.

I, for one, am disgusted by IBM's offshoring. (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233068)

Little hiring is being done at all in the U.S. by IBM while attrition continually reduces the U.S. numbers.

That's disgusting, don't they know I.B.M. stands for American Business Machines?! It's not supposed to be an international company!

Disconnected from corporate life? Woot! (2, Interesting)

rHBa (976986) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231404)

Employees who work from home or in remote branch offices often feel disconnected from corporate life

That's exactly why I freelance instead of work for a corporation.

I live in the mountains and can go skiing, paragliding, mountain biking, climbing etc whenever the weather permits and fit my work (about two days a week is enough to pay the rent/bar tab) around my play. Sure, I don't have a lot of money but if I worked full time in London I'd spend it all on going to the mountains on holidays.

Re:Disconnected from corporate life? Woot! (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232596)

Sure, I don't have a lot of money but if I worked full time in London I'd spend it all on going to the mountains on holidays.

The problem with large corporations is that they're moving their employees to bumfuckia to save costs, and then paying them less, so they don't end up with more disposable income. I *like* being in the city (NYC in this case). Then again, I'm freelancing so I have the advantages of being in the city and of (somewhat) flexible hours.

-b.

Easier to change jobs than get promoted (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231480)

A basic problem with "telework" is that promotion within the company is unlikely. But job changing is easier.

Re:Easier to change jobs than get promoted (2, Interesting)

bmcent1 (598227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233062)

Who mod'd this insightful?

I've teleworked over 5 years and received good raises every year. Telework had no impact, positive or negative, on promotions. They were based on performance, and keeping the customer happy. I was actually more organized working offsite, because 1) I could work without interuption and 2) I knew I had something to prove and that was fine with me, they granted a great perk and I stepped it up in return.

Getting paid is all about being valuable (and making sure your value is known.) It has nothing to do with keeping a seat warm in the office. I'd telework at my next job too, in fact I probably won't take a job that doesn't offer it as a perk.

Wh..what?! (3, Insightful)

Shads (4567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231574)

>Employees who work from home or in remote branch offices often feel disconnected from corporate life

I thought that was the PRIMARY benefit! What more could you want? Do yer job, do it right, do it in your PJs.

Re:Wh..what?! (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232558)

My home office is a hell of a lot nicer, neater, better equipped, has a better view, and is a more comfortable place to work than any corporate office i have ever been in.

My next job won't be telecommute and I don't care. I will still maintain this place.

I have the answer (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231658)

Beat the shit out of the managers that make teleworkers have to justify that we are really doing our jobs away from the office.

It never fails, it seems every quarter some moron in Finance or some new manager in some department questions the value of teleworkers and other stupid comments or questions about the people they dont see daily.

When you have to defend yourself in SPITE of your work quality and quantity on a regular basis it kind of makes us really pissy.

Re:I have the answer (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231766)

There are two reasons for this. Some teleworkers really are lazy, and the dweeb in finance is jealous. I suspect it's a bit more the latter than the former.

I don't see the issue here, really. Promotion usually means a change in function which reduces the direct productive work you do in favor of management. Teleworkers are all about productive work - if they really wanted to be management, they'd hang out with the people at the office trying to climb the ladder. This usually is because they either don't like real work, or really like managing people as their work (or both). Neither of these sorts are the type of people who want to telecommute (well, maybe the former, but they get fired for getting nothing done - at least when they're in the office they can pretend to work and make it "look good").

Dignity with distance (2, Insightful)

m0llusk (789903) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231660)

Sometimes being a part of office culture can open opportunities for conflict, and teleworkers may have the best longevity because they are spared the indignities of office noise and too much closeness.

Well, doesnt this just sound like fun for everyone (5, Informative)

mixnblend (1002943) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231702)

So....now besides going to work 9 to 5 monday to friday and beyond...you go on company branded organised excursions with your fellow employees and their families...at which you all bond and the company tries to let you know about how much they care about you? I'm sorry, but this for me (and I'm sure quite a number of my generation) is pretty much what's putrid about western corporate culture today....when it suits companies, they want to have 'a positive one on one relationship with someone'[personifying probably the least personifiable construct on the planet] whether it be customer or employee, that 'lets them know they care'. When it doesn't and a companies execs want to put the boot in its 'not personal, just business'.[my fellow programmer incidentally reckons the only way to deal with that line is to make it personal]. Western business culture today seems in practice at least to either use the company as a vehicle for overtly oily and condescending overtures to customers or employees, or as a shield to hide behind when extremely irresponible decisions have been made. Its why, if I cn help it, I never want to work for a large company in my life. Once the damn things pass a certain size, they take on a personality all of their own, and it's generally not nice.

Re:Well, doesnt this just sound like fun for every (2, Insightful)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232668)

So....now besides going to work 9 to 5 monday to friday and beyond...you go on company branded organised excursions with your fellow employees and their families...at which you all bond and the company tries to let you know about how much they care about you?

The problem is that in su*burp*ia, you often don't see a lot of faces outside the company since everyone's working different hours, taking care of kids, whatever, and in most suburbs, people don't even walk on the street that much. So it isn't a matter of disconnection from the company as from life in general. If more people lived in cities and smaller towns rather than in uptightass developments, maybe we'll make some progress there.

-b.

Disconnected (3, Insightful)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231720)

Isn't the point of working from home to be "disconnected from corporate life"?

Re:Disconnected (1)

2helix (523755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231784)

exactly :)

IBM - I By Myself (1)

spking1958 (743897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231754)

IBM Club.... not a widely adopted, nor invested in approach. Now it is "IBM Spirit" to supplement the short comings of IBM Club. Most remote people don't have access to either. If you are in a few key large cities then you are okay, but what about the other 70% of the employee base? Not addressed. If you take that for granted, that you will lose all corporate/group dynamics and you like to work on your own, then, the new IBM is just fine. Yes, a lot of it comes across as Cheerleading. The real issues are much different. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Look over here at the shining lights! The real issues are more in the area of manpower management. Our Personnel Development Managers have 50-60-70 people reporting to them. They can't be effective at that rate. They are relegated to process people. That does little for personnel retention.

Re:IBM - I By Myself (1)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231898)

I worked for IBM for 4 years and had two bosses. The first boss I had was great I saw her every couple of months and talked to her ever couple of weeks. My second boss? I saw him once and talked to him only a handful of times(the time I saw him was not one of them).

Promotions (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17231840)

If it is a promotion you want and are not getting here is what you do. Call the boss on the phone or
run into the office to talk to him. Tell him you would like to be promoted to such and such whatever that may be. One of three things will likely happen, he will either say no, say yes or try to passify you with some BS which is the most likely course of action. Now if he says no or throws you some BS you have two courses of action.

1. Sit at home for the rest of your life and do your job like a good little boy or
2. Find somebody else willing to give you that promotion and more money to boot.

If you suck then you are best off sticking with number 1. If you have skills that should be rewarded and are valued then number 2 is your course of action.

You are in charge of where you want to go with your career, nobody is gonna look out for you except
yourself.

I have found myself in a similar situation a manager that want's to keep me in my current position
forever since I am the best at it and it would be hard to fill that position. Well guess what, his desires are not my desires so it is obviously time to rid myself of the relationship. Took me a whole two days to find somebody to step up and give me both the position and the money I want.

Professional vs. social communication (5, Interesting)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231912)

I work full time from home in a senior development position and can relate very much to the disconnected feeling that is discussed in the article, but the solutions that are discussed are addressing the wrong problem in my opinion. The problem is communication but it is professional communication, not social communication that is often lacking.

We have found that short and sweet daily "stand-up" meetings in the morning with only the immediate team members (others of whom work from home as well) are far more helpful than weekly or monthly all-staffs or get togethers. In my experience it is rare that more than 2-3 people actually speak on an all-staff conference call of more than 10 people - how can that help improve communication? Get togethers at a restaurant or park, what have you, are fun and allow for familiarization but they are outside of work and do nothing to improve the day to day communication of the issues at hand.

We have also found webcams to be unhelpful, the concensus being that without eye contact it's just TV. Screen sharing tools like VNC or webex paired with a speaker phone are far more effective when extended collaboration has to happen, while IM takes care of the rest.

As far as the promotions go if the team you're on isn't communicating professionally and producing crap code you have no chance of getting promoted - no matter how many funny jokes you tell at the IBM "Lunch 'n Bowl" :)

Re:Professional vs. social communication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17232838)

dude... are you going to the lunch'n bowl tomorrow?

I do find working in the office makes me privy to alot more information that would be alot harder to come-by working remote... people are alot more realistic about schedules when there in my office with the door shut, than when their sending an email out or being on a conference call... I do better at my job because I not only know that the .ppt is BS, but I know its 73.5% BS and the real dates are XYZ...

Re:Professional vs. social communication (1)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233082)

Damn straight I'm going to the lunch 'n bowl - first I'm gonna eat the HELL out of a burger and then I'm gonna KICK YOUR ASS

- That Guy

Purest of spin (2, Interesting)

lufub (1039644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231988)

Whoever it was that said this was spin was completely accurate. I work in Pelino's old region-- and have been a telecommuter 15 years-- and he was gone before anyone tried to breath life back into the IBM Club. 'Back in the day' it was ok because, having worked in the office, you knew all the folks who showed up at the events. Now with "professional hires" and the for-hire talent coming in and out you can go to these things and not know a soul there. So, most of us don't go anymore. Pelino himself, when he was 'spearheading' this initiative was a complete cipher. He had some big time title and reported into HQ, but he had zero local responsibilities. However long he was in the region, I layed eyes on the guy one time. He was a big difference maker. Not. In fact, one of IBM's biggest problems in terms of morale is the pathetic notion that this sort of pointless garbage raises anyone's spirits. I have reported to someone who lived within 200 miles of me exactly 17 months in the last 15 years. And having this odd idea that managers ought to manage-- which includes sampling activites and results, coaching and directing-- and since IBM managers haven't done any of that in at least 10 years, I'm constantly at odds with this stream of placeholders who've been signing my timecard. Sign me counting the days to retirement ...

The first rule of IMB Club is.... (3, Funny)

skitz0 (89196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17231996)

you do not talk about IBM Club.
The second rule of IMB Club is. YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT IBM CLUB.

Be nice. (1)

Maurice (114520) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232174)


Don't judge IBM too harshly. It's hard to get people excited about working for the most boring company in the world.

the problem with IBM culture is... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17232198)

...if you're not a full time employee, you are shit. If you have a yellow stripe on your badge (contractor) you can't participate in most of these activities.

In North America anyway, most of the front line people that get the real work done are contractors. Employees are just team leads to allow first line managers to have the responsibilities of a second or third line manager.

Am I the only one? (4, Insightful)

Daishiman (698845) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232228)

Am I the only one that actually likes telecommuting?


Seriously, there's a lot of things to not like about IBM, but telecommuting certainly rocks. For one, I get to skip an hour of traffic coming and going and save up on the money. My job as a sysadmin is very lax and easygoing, and I'm studying Computer Science simultaneously, which means that the free time that I'd spend in the office I can spend home studying or, God forbid, working naked in my bedroom, or outside in the backyard(you CAN take the laptop outside).


Socializing? You just coordinate your time telecommuting so that you have 2 days in the office so you can spend time with your team (assuming that your team is worth spending time with). I'd tell you, in a day with little stuff to do I'd rather do my own socializing inviting a friend over than spending in with a random coworker.


And sleep. Man, there is nothing better for your health than getting to sleep an extra hour because of not having to deal with the bullshit of getting dressed and driving. Better yet, you can get out and run or do exercise before tunring the machine on.


People who dislike telecommuting are simply not creative enough to know how to deal with it. A couple of weekly meetings in person with the rest of the staff suffices to kill the feeling of disconnection. The rest of the free time and benefits you get by being home are absolutely amazing if you use them right. I get to cook, watch TV, or read whatever I want. Yes, it does take personal discipline to lose the distractions when there's work to be done, but it's damn well worth it.



Cosas de un sysadmin argentino: http://aosinski.phpnet.us/ [phpnet.us]

Re:Am I the only one? (4, Funny)

SpottedKuh (855161) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232476)

I can spend home studying or, God forbid, working naked in my bedroom, or outside in the backyard(you CAN take the laptop outside)


I guess I'd have to take my laptop outside, were I going to be working naked out there.

Yes. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233338)

Yes. That is spot on. Because of telecommuting, I didn't have to put my child in daycare for the first year and a half of his life, letting someone else raise him. And now that my wife is recently laid off, he isn't in day care any more. This means that when lunch time hits, I simply walk out of my office, and sit down to have lunch with my wife and son just about every day. My days are 8 hours long instead of 11, which means more time with my family. Yeah, yeah, I know that not everybody wants that, but for me it is awesome.

they already get to work from home! (0, Troll)

the0ther (720331) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232400)

fuck those guys i say. pity them? hahahahah!

Other way around (5, Interesting)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232436)

When I was 100% telecommute I was always terrified I would be promoted and given responsibilities that required me to travel, or else, forced to relocate to a main office.

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232488)

This is pretty interesting. Having worked in an office environment, and *wanting* to wortk from home, i'm sure i couls get thing done just as well, like when i did contracting work. But this gives me someting to think about. Would i miss the camaraderie? Would it actually help? After, say, a year or two, would i still enjoy being "out of the loop"?

I have no idea, and i probably would love to find out. Regardless, it is something to think about.

Give me a hug! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17232680)

> "Employees who work from home or in remote branch offices often feel disconnected from corporate life"

But that's what Slashdot is for! We can trade gossip, bitch about the boss (Hi Bill) and lament about the next piece of crapware we'll be forced to use (Hi Again, Bill!) I love you guys, and the time we spend together; the jeering, the rasperberries we blow each other, the flames; I somehow feel close to you guys. GROUP HUG!

PS. As for that first post, there should be a Megatroll Mod. I don't mind the a nit of clever or informative flamebait, but that first one was plain nasty.

Solution? Overcompensate! (2, Insightful)

freeze128 (544774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17232916)

I'm a full time Office guy. I ALWAYS come into the office (because that is where my job is - You can't repair the computers when you're at home).

Just today, one of our Account Management Reps (who usually works from home, but comes into the office 1-2 days a month) came in and brought Soup, Cake, and christmas cards for everyone in the office.

She loves to cook, and she loves working at home, and the people who work in the office get positive reinforcement for working in the office.

Of course, there are the occasional remote users who never bring munchies, and only call to bitch that comcast sucks.... but screw them.... No soup for you!

IBM Club? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17232974)

I've only worked for IBM a short period of time, but I can tell you this. IBM Club is a joke. It's cool as long as you do something ordained by IBM. Fellow IBMers, I challenge you to try and start a motorcycle club....

While at IBM, I've managed to have, bar none, the WORST consulting experience I have EVER had in terms of organization and leadership. I've been consulting for 8 years now and have been on with IBM less than a year. I've also met some of the least efficient managers I've ever met.

That being said, I've also met some of the most talented people I've ever met. The people doing the perform here are very talented indeed.

My $0.02.

Jewish Pedophile Rabbis (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17233218)

are many jewish pedophiles becoming catholic priests in order to destroy
the catholic religion, many believe this is true. in the jewish faith
according to their Talmud it is OK to molest children or marry them to
the age of 3 years old. the Talmud refers to gentile children and women
as she-asses and whores, and it is not a sin to molest a gentile; besides
the Anti-Christ jewish religion and its Talmud calling the Virgin Mary a
whore and jewish religion and rabbis commonly refer to Christ as a false
prophet and the Talmud refers to him being boiled in his own excrement.
the Talmud brags of rabbis going with many whores and it is OK as long as
they are gentile. Even in the movie Fiddler on the Roof a butcher in his
50's was offering to pay the father for his underaged daughter to marry
her. but you will never hear of any of this in the jewish mafia media
since many of these media franchises are also associated with
strip-joints and the porno industry they promote all the time and call
entertainment (entertainment industry). the Talmud also tells of spells
and charms rabbis make to ward off demons. the jewish religion is more
Anti-Christ and Satanic than any other religion and more "satanic verses"
why don't you publisize that? "that's my opinion" --Ed Koch

Missing the point (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17233606)

"IBM Club, which brings together employees for intramural sports, picnics, movies and other types of social, cultural and recreational activities."
These sorts of activities panda to only a small clique in any organisation. While I'm sure the jocks and cheerleaders all think this is, like, totally cool, there's a bunch of us that would rather chew off an arm than participate in these sorts of "team building" exercises. Meanwhile, I pull out a deck of "Fluxx [wunderland.com] " and those rah-rah types suddenly go all quiet.

Heaven forbid that anything like this is used as the official "informal" company communications system.

Most of TC advantages are on employers' side (1)

salec (791463) | more than 7 years ago | (#17234128)

If I was founding a new, startup company nowadays, I would base it almost completely on telecommuting workforce. Therefore there would be no disadvantage for any of the employees compared to any other one.

There are numerous savings for employer due to such business decision:

First, lower rent (or real estate price) for office (and parking) space.

Second, lower electricity and water bills, as well as no need for too many janitors, security personnel, etc.

Third, I can find workforce that will accept lower pays: people have lower expenses, they don't have to commute to work, they don't have to eat out, they don't have to pay other people to day care their babies and little kids, they can even have another parallel job, as long as it doesn't interfere with their job in my hypothetic company. The savings on expenses they would have can balance the lower pay I would offer them.

Fourth, I could, without additional costs to maintain , hire people who have troubles finding jobs because people write them out on a number of excuses but mainly because of prejudice: handicapped people, single (and not only single) mothers who still brestfeed their babies or care for their toddlers, scarred or ugly people, people who can't or have difficulties to communicate verbally, racial, ethnic or sexual minorities encumbered by others' prejudices, etc. It is rotten, unethical thing to say, but some of those people are likely to work for less money because in practice, their options are quite limited. However, you can always do the right thing and offer them decent wage. OTOH, you don't really need to know about any aspect of your employees' lives except how good is their work. Just make offer you want and don't inquire their reasons for accepting it.

Fifth, smaller probability of litigations for various interpersonal faults. People much more easily tolerate each other when they are separated by communication channel.

Sixth, I can employ people from anywhere in the world, who will work our "after hours" in their normal working hours. I don't have to care about relocation, visas, or anything.

Seventh, as company HQ itself is quite "small footprint", I could easily establish it in some "tax paradise" country.

Now, how you make a cohesive, vibrant company out of tele-present people? Well, look at internet communities, MMO games, forums, Slashdot included! It is obvious that there is much action going on there, people helping people, brainstorms are frequent, lots of ideas are transferred, assessed, refined...

Allow employees with message board or IRC channels on company's VPN. Don't monitor their conversations unless where necessary - in "public" message boards - "conference room". Allow them to make emotional bonds of friendship, to feel like if they work next to each other and get to know each other well. However, perhaps you should bill their time spent on work unrelated (non-monitored) chats. For work related communication, they should use monitored and logged message boards (On the second thought, it should be mandatory even in companies that work with physically present employees, for other good reasons).

When you're remote it's a job, not a career (1)

comrade1 (748430) | more than 7 years ago | (#17234160)

I've been working remote for four years now. Originally with a small consulting company and in the last couple of years with a tech company that bought us out (one you've all heard of - it's been on slashdot many many times). I'm under no delusions that my job is nothing more than a job, not a career. I've reached my limit in promotions - anything above where my current position is is management positions, but who would I manage? The guy that sells me corn dogs at the Circle K? That said, I'm completely happy with where I'm at...

A few things we tried. (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17234262)

Back when I was at a company with a lot of telecommuters, we did a few things. We had an IRC channel for idle chatter, and a mailing list or two.

The biggest improvement, I think, was the introduction of the "Watercooler Call". Every Friday at a particular time (it was around 1PM my time, I think), there was an hour long conference call to which all the engineering sorts were invited. There was a firm policy that work not be discussed during this call.

It really did help.
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