Jul 21, 2008

Work from Home

These days with all the information at one's fingertips and devices that enable mobility, it's inevitable that the possibility of working from home arises. One normally pictures sitting in pyjamas at home tapping away on the work computer keyboard with the kids running around in the background.

When the idea was joked about in our office meeting, there were two groans - and both from guys married with kids. I was one of them. I find it hard to imagine how one can be serious about doing work surrounded by the distractions of domestic bliss.

However it seems one US company has implemented just that plan, potentially saving a lot of money.
Rick Boyd used to spend US$500 (NZ$648) a month on petrol and road tolls commuting between his home and office in New York state. Now Boyd doesn't commute any more because his company, Chorus, which provides clinical and management software for community health centres, has gone virtual.

Chorus closed its headquarters in Hasbrouck Heights, New York in early June and its other office, in Texas, a month later. Now all of the company's 35 employees and full-time consultants work at home. For the most part, they love it.

Chorus CIO Rick Boyd says existing technology made it easy for his company to go virtual.

Boyd says the company decided to close its offices to save money and spare employees the hassle and rising cost of commuting and because it had the necessary technology to support such a move. President and CEO AJ Schreiber says Chorus can continue to serve customers while simultaneously saving US$400,000 a year simply by closing its 15,000 square feet of office space.

There's a catch - the following constraints were implemented to make this work:
  1. employee needs to have separate space in home, separated from rest of house and denizens. (Sorry no TV)
  2. employee needs to have work desk
  3. employee needs to be on desk during work hours, odd hours not allowed
  4. employees provided with computing and telecommunications equipment - laptops, monitors, keyboards, headsets, internet service, IP Communicators, Blackberry/Windows smartphones
  5. employee can buy office supplies (Paper, Ink, Post It notes etc.) and bill it to company
  6. right infrastructure, with backup plans in case something goes down

So in other words - you take your office cubicle and put it at home - no escape, really.

Read more in the Computerworld article.

1 comment:

Prasanna said...

While it does seem like heaven to 'work' from home... that seems like an oxymoron and more importantly makes employees more accessible to the company at all hours rather than the standard work hours they are constrained to. And with contracts often not stipulating overtime but rather the standard 'you will work the hours to get the job done' clause, it opens a conduit for companies to get their employees to work more hours and at their beck and call...

I often the work from home policy is an interesting one cause it is almost along the same lines as the 'I'm too sick to come in to work today, but I'll work from home' , which can often be translated to read 'I'm sick but don't want to lose my sick leave...'

So much for better workplace legislation and controls