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We just want flexibility

Jan - 21 - 2008
Nicole C. Engard

In an article about the happiness of telecommuters versus those of us who have to go into the office, Techdirt makes a great point:

Whether or not your desk sits in your house, at the office, or both, it is not the location of the desk that is important, but rather the flexibility to choose when and where you sit.

Whenever I interviewed for a job I always made it clear that flexibility was important to me. For me, my family and health is more important to me than any job – which means that I want to be able to go to the doctor without taking sick time – or leave work early once in a while because my husband needs me at home. I’m not asking for a free pass – just flexibility to work extra hours one day to make up for hours I need to take for family and health other days. I’ve been lucky in this respect – but I can imagine how those who haven’t might be bitter about those who get to telecommute.

Although studies have shown that telecommuters are happier and less stressed, the happiness actually comes not from the telecommuting itself, but from the higher flexibility and autonomy afforded by telecommuting policies. By not chaining workers to a desk for 8 hours a day (which has also been shown to stifle productivity), employees are afforded the flexibility they need to mold their job around their busy lives, and not the other way around.

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10 Responses so far.

  1. Jesse G says:

    Work isn’t a place you GO – it’s something you DO. Times have changed – people want freedom to control what they do with their time. I came across what I think will be the new thinking around work for this next century – it’s called ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment). The creators, Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, have a great blog, too – http://www.caliandjody.com/blog.

  2. Jesse G says:

    Work isn’t a place you GO – it’s something you DO. Times have changed – people want freedom to control what they do with their time. I came across what I think will be the new thinking around work for this next century – it’s called ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment). The creators, Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, have a great blog, too – http://www.caliandjody.com/blog.

  3. Lori Reed says:

    The thing that struck me in that article was this statement:
    “Organizations with high numbers of telecommuters can damage traditional workers’ job satisfaction.” I’m not sure how we can get around the issue of fairness in libraries when we have to have people to work the desks. Many administrative jobs can be done entirely from home. But for those who work in public service it will be more difficult.

    I am much more productive when I am at home without interruptions.

  4. Lori Reed says:

    The thing that struck me in that article was this statement:
    “Organizations with high numbers of telecommuters can damage traditional workers’ job satisfaction.” I’m not sure how we can get around the issue of fairness in libraries when we have to have people to work the desks. Many administrative jobs can be done entirely from home. But for those who work in public service it will be more difficult.

    I am much more productive when I am at home without interruptions.

  5. Nicole says:

    This is very true – in fact many job industries require that someone be at the desk. I don’t really have an answer there – maybe flexible schedules alone will make people happier – I know it’s top of my list of requirements.

    As for no interruptions at home – you must not have kids or dogs ;)

  6. Nicole says:

    This is very true – in fact many job industries require that someone be at the desk. I don’t really have an answer there – maybe flexible schedules alone will make people happier – I know it’s top of my list of requirements.

    As for no interruptions at home – you must not have kids or dogs ;)

  7. Lori Reed says:

    No dogs, but my cat did walk across the keyboard once during an online class so all this text got entered into chat! When I work at home my kids still go to daycare…unless they are sick.

  8. Lori Reed says:

    No dogs, but my cat did walk across the keyboard once during an online class so all this text got entered into chat! When I work at home my kids still go to daycare…unless they are sick.

  9. Simon Chamberlain says:

    I 100% agree about flexibility being key to happiness. Smart employers have known this for a while – it was certainly mentioned in the literature when I studied industrial psychology a decade or so ago.

    It can still be achieved in desk-bound jobs, I think: give people the option (say) of starting late and finishing late, so they can go to a midweek concert or something; let them work out shift coverage with their colleagues.

  10. Simon Chamberlain says:

    I 100% agree about flexibility being key to happiness. Smart employers have known this for a while – it was certainly mentioned in the literature when I studied industrial psychology a decade or so ago.

    It can still be achieved in desk-bound jobs, I think: give people the option (say) of starting late and finishing late, so they can go to a midweek concert or something; let them work out shift coverage with their colleagues.


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