Home (or the Coffee Shop, or the Casino) is Where The Desk Is

January 9th, 2012

We live in a time where many of us carry around more computing power in our pocket, via a mobile smart phone, than NASA had when they launched the Apollo 11 space shuttle to the moon. Besides the ordinary coffee shops, libraries and hotel lounges, wireless hotspots are showing up in parks and even on airplanes. This makes me wonder, why do we need to have expensive office space?

This really hit home with me last weekend, when I was able to log into to the wi-fi network at the Mohegan Sun casino.

That’s right, I was able to code a responsive home page layout only a few feet above the gaming floor at a casino.

I got more work done in those 3 hours than I usually do in 8 hours at my desk in the office. To me, I do my best work when I’m out of my comfort zone. I’ve had that same desk for 2.5 years to the point where I’m able to detect which co-worker is passing by, just by the speed and pressure of their gait. Too much comfort leads to predictability, which leads to complacency, which leads to boredom.

When I’m working on a design or coding I like to have a certain type of atmosphere and environment to maximize my productivity and this is hardest to do in a big corporate office where it’s easy to be distracted, especially by other co-workers.

Best Buy has implemented their “Results-Only Work Environment” (ROWE) campaign with tremendous success. I understand the idea of telecommuting is not for all types of jobs, but for web design and development as long as we have a laptop/tablet, internet connection, and plenty of caffeinated beverages, we can do our job. To me, that was part of the allure of this industry. The fact that I could do this job anywhere. Now with tools like Google Talk, Skype and Facetime, it makes it even easier.

One of the biggest problems web professionals may encounter is from managers who may not feel that this sort of arrangement works for their employees. This lack of trust in the employee that they are not completing their work as they would if they were in the office. Still, many managers feel that he/she will not be able to keep such close tabs on their telecommuting subordinates. This begs the question – if your employee is this irresponsible, why do you have them employed in the first place?. It’s my opinion that talented individuals who may feel shackled down will find other arrangements with companies who respect talent and are flexible to the needs of employees.

If you’re a manager, experiment with telecommuting arrangements. You may find that you will have happier and more productive employees. If you’re a web professional, ask your manager if you could start a telecommuting experiment and show your manager what an amazing job you can do with a little trust and flexibility.