Monday, March 17, 2008

Antisocial networking ?

Photo Credit:

Today's blog entry comes to you from a hotel room for the first time.  A colleague and I are going to spend a couple days working with one of our vendors.

On the drive here, we had a chance to talk about the 'Green' impact that technology can have.  One of the ways technology can help is by reducing the need to commute to a traditional work-office setting.  Would you be willing to give up your cube in exchange for telecommuting ?  I spent my first year at my current employer as a full-time telecommuter and would strongly advise others to ensure that you are well established in a position before making such a move.  I was nothing more than the voice at the other end of the phone.  I felt compelled to rush downstairs to heat a can of soup to minimize the chance someone would think I was goofing off by not replying to an e-mail, IM or phone-call quickly enough. 

Even today, and despite having all the technology necessary for me to cut 20 miles a day out of my commute, I love the social environment of being in the office.  The hallway chats, the break room bump-ins to people I don't see often and best of all - the lunchtime field-trips to ChickFilA or a restaurant which forces us to walk by the Apple store - all these give me a reason to want to retain my cube.

I love to retain the option of telecommuting, it's sure handy to be able to take an 8pm call after dinner - or when the "must be present to sign for package" scenario hits.  How about the cable repair man, or 7am call that can be taken without even having brushed my teeth.  For me it's just striking the right balance of 'being Green', 'being Me' and just being part of a professional/social circle.

Telecommuting for the primary benefit of displacing the traditional office 'community' concerns me.  I've read articles about your neighbors being the 'workgroup' of the future.  Rather than lunch runs to ChicFilA or the Apple store, you may just walk down the cul de' sac to Jimmy's for lunch.  How much of the work that gets done today is based on deeper personal relationships than can be accomplished within a 60 minute con-call ?  I believe that elevating Communication to the target state of Collaboration has to be based on more than agendas and meeting minutes.

I'd love to hear what your take is on this topic, but hey - don't feel like you have to leave a comment - gimme a call or stop by my cube when I get back in on Thursday.

No comments: