Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Boundaries

Between company offered laptops, cells and blackberries along with the increased ease of telecommuting, discussion of the personal vs. work boundaries are heating up. One of my first jobs was for a company run out of my boss's basement and for a while she walked out of her front door around to the basement door in order to create some mental separation. I had a behavioral psychology professor who talked about studying next to a light and every time, you stop studying - to talk on the phone, daydream, web surf, turn the light off. The idea was to create a sort Pavlovian study response to the light being on.
I have had jobs, where expect for the occaisonal contract site job, I worked from home. I have had jobs where working from home wasn't an option. And I have a job now, where telecommuting once a week is on option.
For a while I did telecommute. Then there were technology challenges and since they (at the time) would neither provide me a computer to telecommute with nor support our personal computers through any problems as a result of the telecommuting software. So I stopped.
Now, most of us have laptops. So, what does that mean? The laptop is supposed to ease my ability to work anywhere. But does it mean my work hours change? Does it mean that it would be less of an imposition to work on a Saturday because (connection issues aside) I can do it from my couch? And most recently, does it mean my office never has to close down for weather (not that they did that often before, mind you) because I don't have to drive?
So, I haven't completed the steps to set myself up to telecommute. I have made all the appropriate requests, but haven't chased anyone down when they didn't get back to me. Part of me worries. I have a co-worker who is resisting getting a cell phone becuase she doesn't want to be more reachable than she is. (I told her to get one and just not tell anyone at work.) And really, if the roads are unsafe, the solution is not for me to work elsewhere, it is for me to not have to come in to work. (Don't get me wrong, I am not putting myself in danger to get to work. Not even to make a point.)
Today, in my group, there were two of us in the office. Two others, who also have challenges with telecommuting, called in today. But is that fair that others get to not lose vacation because they set up a scenario (that is - by the way - supposedly optional) where not enough people can speak to the danger of the roads since they just work from home those days? This is exacerbated by the fact that we report in to another state, so there are no senior management type people in our area. My manager is able to report area conditions to them, but it's all specualtion if she doesn't have to drive in.
And it is an interesting situation. Again, I don't feel that I drove in unsafe conditions (less safe, sure). And I didn't get up early, so however long it took (forty five minutes) to clear my car, well, I was just late in. But the precedent concerns me. Too bad my HR is in another state too.

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