Working from home? Make sure you’re adding unique value

Mechanical TurkInteresting article in the Guardian on crowdsourcing – companies using large numbers of distributed people rather than technology to solve problems.

While not directly related to working from home it struck a chord with me. I commented on Rands’s article on “The Pond”. One of the things I wrote was:

“One concern whether remote or not is that if my work is so precisely defined then the company may decide to contract the work elsewhere, possibly off-shore. Human nature means that the unquantifiable work that keeps me valued is so much more visible in the pond.”

Occasionally I entertain the idea of working remotely so that I can live where I want to live and all the other good stuff around home working. The article was a useful reality check and had me thinking about where I and the people I work with add value.

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  1. Another peculiarity of working from home (I ran a home-based marketing company for fourteen years) is the lack of stimulation from other like-minded people. In an office environment you hear about lectures, conferences or conventions from others. That can be very useful for professional growth, but alone at home, you have to rely on company email for such postings.
    Once you are not part of the office social network, a participant in all that is going on (inducing a shared chuckle in the break room) you may come to be seen as an outsider and will not be looked upon as "one of us." This can be a problem in teamwork assignments or when you have to extract information from others in order to move forward on a project. Their motivation to work with you could be significantly reduced by your self-imposed social distance from them.
    Working from home provides a nice change for the employee, but if one’s company has a substantial workforce at the office each day, it’s probably best to limit the frequency. To be seen as an individual who separates himself from the very environment employees typically function in, leaves one open to being seen as less friendly and unapproachable.
    People make judgments based on concrete behavior which may or may not be complimentary, so it is prudent to consider the impression you could be making by no going into the office.

    Reply

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