Since January, I have been working onsite for a healthcare institute in Boston — arriving between 7h30 and 8h and exit near 18h. My commute adds another 2-1/2 to 3 hours to my day. Total daily time devoted to the business is 12-1/2 to 13-1/2 hours, weekly is between 60 and 65 hours. Actual time working? 50 to 53 hours.
Before January 2008, I had to travel to my client, which would occur Sunday night or Monday morning, 5 to 7 hours average. Would have accommodations within 10-15 minutes’ drive to the client. Would return home Thursday night, and work 8 hours of Friday. Monday through Thursday would find me awake between 5h and 5h30 and retiring for the day near midnight. Forget about any time to relax, save for 45 to 90 minutes for dinner. Total time devoted weekly business would be between 75 and 85 hours, depending on travel conditions. Actual time working? 60 to 70 hours.
The time devoted to producing a paycheck consumes most of our waking hours – and travel to the place of work can add a few hours a week for those living near their place of employment or their client(s). For others, the travel can add as much as another full working day — or more — to the work week.
As for a home office, I have had several clients I have never met. Depending on the client, we had worked together for a few months to a year. I rose every morning at 6h30 and was at my desk by 7h, lunch as scheduled (usually 20 to 30 minutes), and then continue work until it was time for me to cook dinner for the family (cooking is one of my was to relax –for us, dinner is 19h30). Total hours at the desk? 48 to 55 hours… Commuting from the kitchen or bedroom — about 30 seconds, or about 5 minutes a week. I actually was able to enjoy the harvest of my labors for a change.
Overall, my clients that allowed me my home office were happier clients and we had a good relationship. My family was happier as well. I was no longer a transient that visited on weekends or on week nights. It is no myth that the happiest employees are those that have a balanced life between work and home.
Myth #1 — an employee will be slack: If someone at home office has enough time to be slack, then someone at the work office has not provided enough work and a reasonable timeline for deliverables. Anyone that works from home understands they can be replaced faster than if working in the office. There are many people willing to work from home than work at the office. Therefore the onus is on performance and timely deliverables.
Myth #2 — there is a disconnect between those working at the office and those working at home: Many have discovered it is good to bring the home worker into the office once or twice a week. Many people who work from home want to make a weekly appearance in the work place.
Myth #3 — the technological means is not always available: With the advantage of e-mail, web conferencing, Skype, ooVoo, WebEx, Citrix, Windows Meeting Space and SharePoint, keeping and expensive overhead is — well, expensive! Many managers and directors I have talked with, and many of the articles I have read have noted that there is less monitoring needed with those that work from a home office. Now this could be a result of “out of sight, out of mind” scenario, but we cannot argue that it focuses BOTH the worker and the supervisor on the task at hand instead of what someone is doing.
Myth #4 — productivity will slack, quality will decline, and deliverables will be late: see myth #1, 2, and 3…
Please feel free to comment, I will share my experiences — my clients are very large corporations (like Lubrizol) as well as small and medium sized businesses. The ideas may need some adaptation to cultural differences, but the concepts are global.
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