Bookmarked The Case for Letting People Work From Home Forever by Jaclyn Greenberg (WIRED)

Do you want happier, productive, more engaged, and more fulfilled employees and coworkers? Well, you should campaign to let them work remotely. Here’s why.

Jaclyn Greenberg makes the case for a permanent move to working from home. She argues that at home we are more productive, it allows for flexibility, and provides more work-life balance. In addition to that, Greenberg argues that office spaces are conducive to social interruptions and office politics.

Regardless of your job or where you live, a commute to the office can take up large portions of the day. The average American commute in 2019 was 27 minutes each way, which adds up to approximately 200 hours per year for a full-time employee. Aside from the actual commute, getting out of the house at a specific time in the morning in an effort to avoid traffic can be stressful. Instead of worrying about rushing to the office on time or needing to leave early for personal obligations, employees are more productive when they work remotely, have fewer sick days, and take less time off.

Cal Newport pushes back on work from home, continuing his exploration of remote work. He suggests the distractions of the home do not create the right environment.

The home is filled with the familiar, and the familiar snares our attention, destabilizing the subtle neuronal dance required to think clearly. When we pass the laundry basket outside our home office (a.k.a. our bedroom), our brain shifts toward a household-chores context, even when we would like to maintain focus on our e-mail, or an upcoming Zoom meeting, or whatever else that needs to get done. This phenomenon is a consequence of the associative nature of our brains. Because the laundry basket is embedded in a thick, stress-inducing matrix of under-attended household tasks, it creates what the neuroscientist Daniel Levitin describes as “a traffic jam of neural nodes trying to get through to consciousness.”

He instead suggests near-home locations. This reminds me of Bill Ferriter marking in McDonalds or John Spencer doing creative work at Starbucks.

In other pieces on remote work, Sean Blanda argues that it becomes about tasks, not times, while Gideon Haigh questions simply reproducing the physical office.

Listened What should become of the office? from ABC Radio National

Will the experience of working-from-home make employees reluctant to resume the daily struggle with traffic or public transportation, or to put up with irritating co-workers and unproductive work environments? Or will we discover that we’ve missed something precious in being deprived of interactions with others?

Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens speak with Gideon Haigh about his book The Momentous, Uneventful Day: A Requiem for the Office. With so many forced to work offsite during the pandemic, the three consider the current purpose of the office and its futute moving forward.

Although many have raised fears associated with absenteeism, there is also a danger of presenteeism, where because you are present you are productive. One of the things to come out of the pandemic is the danger of the cult of reproducibility. Technology is not a direct substitution for face-to-face interactions. That is, not everything done in the office can be done at home, and vice versa. Both spaces are unique, with their own features and affordances, forever changing over time. For example, working from home can be more conducive for the deeper appreciation of ideas, whereas being in the presence of others often forces you to into answers. In addition to the space, the conditions of work changes things. For example, when people are mandated to work from home, this takes away from the opportunities to break up the day.

In addition to the space itself, there is the transition between different performances that occurs. Office life is a performance, but maybe just a different performance. Working from home offers certain lifestyle possibilities. With the lose of the commute, the transition between life and work becomes blurred. Associated with this, the technology we have come to depend upon has created something of a templated self, where we are conditioned to work in a particular way. This has all created the conditions for a perpetual work environment which has colonised the home. Work is subsequently no longer a vocation and deep ownership.

For me, this adds to Jennifer Moss’ discussion of burnout, Cal Newport’s exploration of productivity hacks, and Sean Blanda’s fear about the way in which remote work often becomes about tasks, rather than people.

Liked Tim Ferriss Is No Longer Living the Tim Ferriss Lifestyle. Neither Should You (Inc.)

Because not everything that is meaningful can be measured.

Before you optimize a task or function, take a step back and consider the goal. If extreme efficiency is the only goal, by all means optimize away — because that will make you happy.

But if a personal component is involved — purpose, or meaning, or satisfaction, or fulfillment, or self-awareness, or any number of other emotional rather than quantifiable outcomes — then make sure optimization doesn’t require too high of a cost.

Replied to Marking, grading, whatever you want to call it… it’s core business, right? (Bianca Hewes)

Marking is intense because it is both physically and intellectually demanding. It is also a core part of our role as teachers, and thus unavoidable. I’m a high school English teacher, so I feel lik…

Thank you as always for finding the time to share Bianca. What is disconcerting is that I imagine you have various strategies to help you, such as Medals and Missions, as well as feedback codes.
Bookmarked How to (Actually) Save Time When You’re Working Remotely (hbr.org)
Lauren C. Howe , Ashley Whillans and Jochen I. Menges provide some tips for managing the work/life divide associated with working remotely:

  1. Create your own commute.
  2. Give yourself a Feierabend, a daily evening celebration marking the moment when work is switched off for the day
  3. Focus your workload on a daily “must win.”
  4. Put “proactive time” on your calendar.
  5. Reclaim the social in social distancing.
  6. Run time-management experiments.

Some interesting ideas, but the problem I find is that my time does not feel like my own to control.

Liked Working from home was the dream but is it turning into a nightmare? (theguardian.com)

I’m picking up a distinct impression that the novelty of WFH has begun to wear thin as we realise that the pandemic might turn out to be a very long haul indeed. And the more we are obliged to interact with the technology at home, the more acute our perceptions of its implications and downsides are becoming

Replied to My Goals Are Set: Here’s to 2020 | Learning & Leading (cbarclay.global2.vic.edu.au)
Corrie, I love your point about work/life balance being a myth. I recently read Annabel Crabb’s The Wife Drought which I stumbbled upon via an interview with Virginia Trioli. As Austin Kleon highlights, family is complicated enough.
Replied to Given things as they are, how shall one individual live? (Doug Belshaw’s Thought Shrapnel)

All we can do, at any given point, is to weigh up where we are, using principles such as Fred Wilson’s:

  1. Am I working on something that inspires me (and others)?
  2. Am I working on something with a significant impact?
  3. Am I working in a way that makes getting where I want to go as easy as possible (and keeps me there as long as possible)?

As Altman writes, that’s likely to be in a place that doesn’t play politics and, to Bartlett’s point, it’s important to pay very close attention to power dynamics. In short, it’s important to ask ourselves regularly, “Am I best positioned to make the particular dent I’ve decided to make in the universe?”

Plenty to think about in this piece Doug, thank you. My only question is where family fits within all this? Always something to consider.
Bookmarked What Happens When Your Career Becomes Your Whole Identity (Harvard Business Review)

So how do you know if your identity has become enmeshed with your career? Consider the following questions:

How much do you think about your job outside of the office? Is your mind frequently consumed with work-related thoughts? Is it difficult to participate in conversations with others that are not about your work?

How do you describe yourself? How much of this description is tied up in your job, title, or company? Are there any other ways you would describe yourself? How quickly do you tell people you’ve just met about your job?

Where do you spend most of your time? Has anyone ever complained to you that you are in the office too much?

Do you have hobbies outside of work that do not directly involve your work-related skills and abilities? Are you able to consistently spend your time exercising other parts of your brain?

How would you feel if you could no longer continue in your profession? How distressing would this be to you?

Janna Koretz discusses hedging your bets and finding a sense of identity outside of your career. Some of suggestions that Koretz provides include free up time, find other activities, build up your network and decide what is important.

This does not just relate to being burnt out, it also touches on when the job actually changes.

Bookmarked Kylie used to be the breadwinner, but this is what happened when her husband got promoted (ABC News)

Ms Lewis is not alone. With women today more educated than ever, their qualifications, expectations and desire to work in fulfilling professional roles are the same as men’s.

Highly educated women also tend to marry men of similar education, resulting in more relationships comprised of two professional equals, often holding similar career and work aspirations.

And while there are many positives to such arrangements, they can also bring with them a uniquely contemporary problem: when you have two similarly ambitious and educated individuals, what happens when one’s career takes off — and the partner’s stagnates?

Caroline Zielinski discusses the challenges of family and work. I think that this is something that Austin Kleon captures best:

Increasing Complexity

I feel that the biggest challenge in today’s day and age is balancing between everyone’s interests.

Bookmarked Stressed-out teacher? Try these self-care tips – ABC Life (abc.net.au)

Teachers and mental health experts share their tips for ways educators can keep a balanced approach to work, and avoid emotional and physical burnout.

Grace Jennings-Edquist collates a number of self-care strategies to support teachers. This is something that I have written about in the past. I still have concerns that we are overlooking the systemic issues.
Replied to A portrait of the artist as a young father (austinkleon.com)

Here are a handful of things I think I know about being a dad:

The one point that really struck me as I type this with the rest of the family fast asleep was the point about balance:

Work, children, or a social life. You may pick two at a time. (Nobody wants to hear this.)

That is a good point.