Thoughts on Jason Fried's "Why the office is the worst place to work"
When I read Jason Fried’s article on CNN about how the office is the worst place to work, I wanted to cry and give him a hug. The 37 Signals Founder nailed it.
I worked remotely for a year before the company I worked for opened an office in Bellevue, WA. For the last five months, I’ve been traveling to work, usually 45 minutes to an hour both ways. In fact, I’ve been doing work emails, reading Jason’s article and writing this blog post while being stuck on a bus on I5 for the last 45 minutes—not even on SR 520 yet. Luckily I have weapons on the bus to get work done, but more often than not I wonder “How much work could I be getting done in my home office while I fight through traffic to just get into one?”
I’m not going to say the office is the worst place to work for everyone, but here’s a few thoughts from a designers perspective:
I don’t have cable, a spouse or kids for it to be a distraction. The most distracting thing for me is a 20 pound cat who needs to be fed, but that’s it. I live alone so there’s no distractions from having conversations with people. If I need something, I can reach my colleagues via phone, IM or email. When meetings are called, I simply dial in via Skype to take the call.
For Al Gore!
Let’s face it, working remotely helps the environment. Imagine if 25% of the people in Seattle worked from home and didn’t drive to work. Hell, imagine if 10% more did. Besides the enhanced focus of being at my home office (my setup) I am making a small environmental contribution.
Work the commute, don’t let the commute work me
Anyone who suffers from any condition like a migraine headache can understand how a rough commute can affect them. I usually get in the office after being stuck on a perpetually breaking bus for 45 minutes. Every time I get off the bus, my brain is pounding and I feel like I’m going to throw up. I get into the office and fire up my computer, get my tea or coffee. Yeah, I should sleep more, but man, I would kill for that extra 1.5 hours of sleep by being at home.
I would argue that the concern should be that working away from the office is TOO PRODUCTIVE, to the point where remote employees are actually working more than people at the office. This is contrary to the popular belief that remote employees have it easy.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the people I work with and like having an office to go to for meetings and using the tools provided for us. However, there is something really glamorous about agile collaboration. I am so glad Fried wrote this and gave this talk—very inspiring.
What are your thoughts?