Home Work. My Opinion.

February 2, 2011

As an adult, and some might argue that point, I’ve been able to avoid getting shackled to a desk for most of my professional career. I’ve had some stints where I was doing onsite work – TJX, Brookstone, COMDEX and Fidelity come to mind – but I’ve primarily been able to work wherever I can find a plug and an Internet connection.

These days, with 4G speeds and a sachet of gadgets including chargers and BlueTooth keyboards, I’ve been able to set up shop in the car at a traffic light when necessary. So, why do so many firms persist on requiring their staff in chairs at desks onsite? Is it so important to the perception of C-level executives to see their Plebeian forces spread across a cubemunity at headquarters? Or don’t these higher-level folks have the capacity to understand the reality of better productivity that comes from giving your employees a little flexibility in their jobs?

First off, what spurred this little discussion (you say diatribe, I say discussion) was the adult and enlightened comment from one of my clients that they didn’t need me in the office EVER, as long as I met deadlines and got my work done. This commentary was further spurred when a friend in Boston told me that his company had informed all salaried employees that there were no ‘agreed-upon’ hours during the work day. And that anyone who was hired as a salaried employee would have to work nights and weekends as part of their contract with the company.

Forgive me if I’m mistaken, but aren’t there employment and slave-labor laws in place to prevent attitudes and actions like this? And is the economy so bad that managers now feel they can ask more of employees without adding any compensation or even comp time?

Don’t get me started on the very real situation of some Massachusetts state jobs where employees have been forced to take successive pay CUTS the past few years because the union employees they work beside would not forgo their agreed-upon raises.

Ultimately, I wonder when we decided that work is all life is about. While I might not get Donut Tuesday at the office or the four paid holidays a year, I also don’t have calluses where the shackles have worn away my skin and my will to the point that all I am is a ‘resource’ that the company depends on to make money.

A few questions before I leave you. And heaven forbid you’re reading this at work…

Are you a free agent? Or are you working for the man? Can you run an errand during the day without having to work extra hours to make up the ‘lost’ productivity? Wouldn’t you rather we were like Europe and took a full month off a couple times a year to spend with family and friends? How do you think your outlook on life would be affected if we had a more open system?