Three years after I joined the remote workforce, I'm finally coming to grips with my daily realities ... having two large dogs as co-workers, socializing on email and eagerly awaiting snippets of conversation with any human who crosses my path.
My water cooler friends are fellow parents, who enable me to discuss important topics of the day — like parking, the kids' homework and whether the crossing-guard is OK, after she goes missing in action for a few days.
I started thinking about this after stumbling on a recent study from ConnectSolutions that insists 77 percent of people who work remotely even a few days a month are more productive off site, with 30 percent claiming they are also more efficient and 24 percent claiming they accomplish just as much in the same time.
Nearly one in four of these remote workers are even willing to work longer hours than they normally do on site to so they can accomplish even more. And 52 percent are less likely to take time off when working remotely, even when they're sick.
But are they happy — or, more importantly, sane?
To be sure, this is a tiny, unscientific study, conducted by a company with a vested interest in promoting work from home. ConnectSolutions, a private-cloud solutions provider, based the study on responses to an online study by 353 US adult Internet users.
Michael Fitzpatrick, CEO of ConnectSolutions, told CMSWire this was just a way to glance into the work-from-home life and not to promote his products. Nonetheless, he insisted remote workers are, at least, "happier, less stressed out and healthier, thereby bringing down the costs of turnover, absenteeism, lower productivity, and other issues."
Since he did not mention sane, allow me to digress. Anyone who has worked at home for any length of time knows that it is not without its challenges. Consider my own experiences:
- I get distracted every time the "Hangover" movie is on during the day.
- I often hear voices saying, "Do the laundry," "Wash the dishes" or "Go make pancakes" — at 2 p.m.
- I go to a coffee shop often just to feel like I'm part of society.
- I've conducted phone interviews while driving, cooking, sweeping, eating, watching the World Cup and shoveling. (Well, I think I hallucinated the latter because, well, I live in the Boston area).
- I get sad when my wife tells me I have no reason to be tired because I don't have a commute to work.
- I've worked at 3 p.m., 3 a.m., three minutes at a time and three hours at a time.
Ah, that felt good.
Fitzpatrick nonetheless is a big booster of working from home. He told CMSWire there's a "real tax involved" with something as brief as a 35-minute commute.
"If people do the math, often times you figure out that commute time is actually longer than your paid time off hours," Fitzpatrick said. "That can be depressing."
Fitzpatrick wasn't championing remote-working over being in an office. But he does see the benefits of a good remote worker -- so long as they live up to their bargain of being productive.
It's all about "protecting that flexibility by being productive."
So go on, Remote Worker, continue to be productive. And do whatever you need to do when you start feeling especially lonely, even if that means a long conversation with your dogs.