Marvin Humphrey marvin at
Sun May 6 10:06:42 BST 2007

On May 6, 2007, at 1:24 AM, Richard Foley wrote:

> Sometimes it's a 2-edged
> sword though. Most people think telecommuting is walking the dog and
> watching telly, they don't realise it tends to eat into your dinner  
> time, and
> you very often end up doing longer hours, your lunch ends up being  
> 10 minutes
> instead of 30, when the work drifts into your evenings as you  
> continue to
> work on a problem until it's fixed.

As a project manager, I've exploited that phenomenon.

While individuals vary, a lot of people are at their most productive  
when they have become fascinated by something and can't tear  
themselves away from it.  Going with the flow when something like  
that happens means more work gets done faster by happier individuals.

The flip side is that you have to insist that team members spend no  
more than their allotted hours working, and strongly encourage people  
to "sleep on it" rather than work late.  People who maintain a good  
work-life balance can sustain high productivity for longer stretches  
and are more dedicated and loyal.

That style of management works especially well with talented,  
temperamental people -- the 20% who do 80% of the work.  But it  
doesn't suck for the rest, either.

> Having a door you can close in both
> directions, and physically going to work in a different room, is a  
> very good
> idea.

The worst telecommuting experience I've had was one where I was given  
zero guidance and zero supervision.  They trusted me to get my job  
done, which was cool...  But without consistent human communication  
expressing expectations, motivation evaporates.  I found it difficult  
to rouse myself even though in the abstract it was fun work.

Marvin Humphrey
Rectangular Research

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