Monday, October 15, 2007

Working from home: contactability

Mira Katbamna reports in today's Guardian about a survey from VOiP experts Inclarity which suggests that, as Mira puts it, "large numbers of us fear harassment from our bosses as a result of ... mobile working. We might be sitting in the park, it might be Saturday, but those always-on laptops and mobiles are keeping us chained to our metaphorical desks, if not to our actual ones. In fact, Inclarity found that 40% of us said that being permanently contactable by boss or clients puts us off owning a single device for calls and emails. Presumably the other 60% of us are already CrackBerry addicts." I'd be interested in what other shedworkers and homeworkers thought about this subject.


  1. Anonymous12:25 PM

    This is something I am always on the verge of doing something about. I think it's worse when you don't have 'a boss' but lots of different people you do small bits of work for. Being always available means they can get far more of you than they have paid for. I'm planning email-free days and I only give out my office phone number to people who might need to contact me in a real emergency.

  2. Yes, I have a similar working arrangement, essentially half a dozen clients rather than a single boss and while they are all actually good people to work for, I can sometimes feel a little worn thin.

  3. Anonymous3:32 PM

    Or get them used to the fact you don't always respond instantly.

    Especially IMing, leave a gap before responding if you are busy doing something else, or a single line "busy now, brb" or something like that. Similar for email and VoIP.

    If your boss is any good at all, you should either be able to trust him to interrupt carefully/considerately or he should understand that you may be busy on something (or having tea break).

  4. Interesting question!

    In my case, my boss/senior partner prefers to be unreachable - which sometimes means I have people contacting me trying to track him down. On other hand, I have been given the super secret mobile number in case he needs to return an important client's call.

    He's one extreme, using me as the gate keeper.

    I'm the other - my computer, IM, etc. is on and open from the time I wake up in the morning until last thing at night. Many of our clients are on the other side of the planet so being able to be available within a single day's time is important.

    But I do like the idea of a e-mail free day.

    And once my shed is built, I'm hoping to have a few more of them. With the office currently in the bedroom, it does get claustrophobic all to easily!!

  5. Anonymous10:03 PM

    I have an interesting situation in that my boss is the ultimate in terms of taking advantage of telecommuting - she's always worked from home, and generally disappears for 75% of the day. (She has three small kids at home.) Now that I'm telecommuting (3 time zones away, we just moved to San Francisco from DC) she's become paranoid about my availability - presumably because she's projecting her own work ethic onto me. The first month was rough, with constant "check up" calls and demands for weekly videoconferencing. Thankfully she seems to have calmed down and returned to her invisible ways...