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February 15, 2010

Not too together; Not too alone: The best of both working worlds

We have been reading with great interest about the Inc magazine ‘going virtual’ experiment. We even solicited our members to share some advice with them about working virtually or from home. Now, of course, some things are quite different given that each of us here at In Good Company work for ourselves (Inc staffers have to worry more about virtual communication and collaboration; IGCers have to worry more about other business responsibilities like taxes, billing, marketing, sales, etc.), but there are many challenges and factors that are the same or at least similar.

Primarily the similarities reside in the isolation factor: working along all day often in the confines of your own personal space, sans the on-hand tech support of a larger organization, left to your own scheduling devices, and devoid of face-to-face co-worker interaction.

Last week, Inc Magazine enlisted expert Kate Lister (@workfromhomekate) author of Undress for Success, to talk about the pros of telecommuting. It was in reading this that I was really struck by home much I value my hybrid professional experience and my ability have what I consider the best of both worlds.

Kate talks about the vast ways in which our social landscape would change if all the people that could work at home did so. For example,

* Productivity increases up to $200 billion per year!

* Companies would save almost $200 billion as well!

* 150,000 fewer people would die in car accidents each year

* 84 million tons of greenhouse gases would be eliminated.

Those numbers are hard to argue with and I totally agree that these would be good things! Selfishly, I can’t imagine being confined to a traditional office schedule, structure, or environment. I love my flexibility, although I probably end up working more and perhaps making less.

YET…I also think about all these millions of newly-freed employees who may excitedly embracing tele-commuting only to find out that exclusively working from home is not all it is cracked up to be.

We started In Good Company for all those folks who could no longer stand working from home all the time. Who felt lonely and isolated. Who spent too much time reinventing the wheel because they didn’t have colleagues close on hand. Who missed brainstorming in person and the random opportunities that can arise from being in the same right place at the same right time.

I wouldn’t and couldn’t give that up. I know that I am happier and more productive because the ability to both work from home AND from an office, to spend days alone uninterrupted AND in the company of my peers. We designed In Good Company differently and built it on a flexible and shared model because when we did have a private office elsewhere, we found that trekking there only to shut the door and be alone again really didn’t solve our problems. I like having it both ways and think that other should be able to do that too.

I know that tele-commuting doesn’t have to represent one extreme. Kate and others like Cali Yost (@caliyost) write a lot about work life fit and how to give people the choices they want. I offer up myself and our community of women as examples of people who could decide what they want and how and decide to have both.

Maybe after Inc Magazine completes this one month experiment, they could do another where people had the option to both work from home AND from the office. In my opinion it is what I enjoy the most and what works the best.

For the rest of us, is it time you rethought where you work and how you work?

Are you getting the best of both worlds?

posted by Adelaide Lancaster

image courtesy of trulyvera


Pamela Slim said...

Hi there!

Thanks for the post!

I just wanted to clarify that Kate didn't actually write Escape from Cubicle Nation, I did.

With the amount of work it took to write the book, there were days when Kate's help would have been appreciated! LOL

Keep up the great work on your blog.

All the best,

-Pam Slim

In Good Company WorkPlaces said...

Sorry, Pam! We have amended the copy. Thanks for the correction.