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One Third of Telcom Staff More Productive Working From Home 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-the-pjs-on dept.
Qedward writes "British telecoms operator O2 has found that 88% of its staff are just as productive working remotely, while one-third claimed that they actually got more work done when they worked from home. 3,000 employees at O2's head office took part in a program that had them to work from home for one day, as practice for problems that may occur during the Olympic Games. From the article: '“The success of O2’s experiment extends much further than just allowing some of the workforce to stay at home and work. It proves that with the right thinking and planning, even the largest organizations can protect themselves from the most severe disruptions to their business,” said Ben Dowd, business director at O2.'"
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One Third of Telcom Staff More Productive Working From Home

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  • from the keep-the-pjs-on dept.

    Wait, what? Why would anyone wear clothes at their own home? It's much nicer to be naked. And no, that you have a significant other to care about isn't a valid answer. None of my hot girlfriends have ever had problems with me being nude around them, and I'm a quite fat guy too.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:14PM (#39578579)

      None of my hot girlfriends have ever had problems with me being nude around them

      That's because your sample size is zero.

      • None of my hot girlfriends have ever had problems with me being nude around them

        That's because your sample size is zero.

        No, I am serious. If you are dating someone and even had sex with him/her, why the hell can't you be naked around each other? Or do you have sex in the dark too, under the pillows?

    • Some people live in cold climates.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hairyfish (1653411)
      Problem with being naked is the risks of dangley bits getting snagged on things and/or of staining the furniture (a hot sweaty arse on a fabric couch isn't a good mix :)
      • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:50PM (#39579019) Journal

        ... or a young and playful pet cat thinking that one's dangley bits look like cool toys and lunge for them while one is standing at the kitchen counter making one's own breakfast.

        For reference, speaking from experience here, it's approximately as uncomfortable as it sounds.... and also something that one's significant other is liable to keep laughing at you over for about a week.

        • by tqk (413719)

          ... or a young and playful pet cat thinking that one's dangley bits look like cool toys and lunge for them while one is standing at the kitchen counter making one's own breakfast.

          I just have to say, you people are especially sick today. Dangly bits and cat claws?!? Yuck. Ya know, if you grab it by the head and flick quickly, that problem disappears forever. Until you get another cat.

          Dogs don't do that sort of !@#$, btw.

          • by Ignacio (1465)

            grab it by the head and flick quickly

            ...

            I can't see that being any more comfortable for my dangly bits than the claws...

            • by tqk (413719)

              grab it by the head and flick quickly ...

              I can't see that being any more comfortable for my dangly bits than the claws...

              Really? Cat claws anywhere near your dangly bits? That's close to the last thing I'd want in life. Sorry for my lack of specificity. Grab *the cat* by the head, ...

        • by mark-t (151149)

          Just contemplating how I was modded, above.

          They say laugh, and the world laughs with you.

          But describe an incident where your cat decides to playfully maul at your private parts, and then you'll really getting 'em going.

    • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:42PM (#39578917) Journal
      How about because one has a significant other who actually dislikes always having the blinds closed?
      • How about because one has a significant other who actually dislikes always having the blinds closed?

        There are plenty of window treatments that are essentialy "one-way" during daylight hours - they let in ~50% of the light and you can see outside but its basically impossible for people to see inside because the sun is so much brighter than any light source inside the building. At night it goes the other way and you can't see outside but everybody can see inside, but that's when you pull down the regular blinds.

      • by tqk (413719)

        How about because one has a significant other who actually dislikes always having the blinds closed?

        Yeah? So? Tell 'em your a nudist and it's natural. Everybody likes that crap these days.

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Having the blinds closed and blacked out with quilts duct-taped to the wall is part of dating a Slashdotter.

        Now if she complains about the refrigeration coils on the walls, just tell her it's so the snipers can't spot you on thermal shoot through the wall with armor-piercing rounds. THAT'LL show her.

    • by hellkyng (1920978)

      Because it gets awkward buying girl scout cookies.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah - nowhere to put the change

        • Yeah - nowhere to put the change

          People usually have their own pocket which is more than suitable for keeping the change. Most people empty it in the toilet, but you can pretty much do it anywhere.

        • by tqk (413719)

          Yeah - nowhere to put the change

          "Keep the change, kid."

    • by tqk (413719)

      I did not need to know any of this. Condolences to your girlfriends, or maybe they're just as obese as you?

    • by isorox (205688)

      from the keep-the-pjs-on dept.

      Wait, what? Why would anyone wear clothes at their own home? It's much nicer to be naked. And no, that you have a significant other to care about isn't a valid answer. None of my hot girlfriends have ever had problems with me being nude around them, and I'm a quite fat guy too.

      I'm in my dressing gown on the sofa right now because it's cold.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:10PM (#39578525)

    Managers badmouth telecommuting because it more or less proves what we've known all along. Most managers are useless, redundant, wastes of space that spend more time putting on a show to justify their own existence than they do conducting actual management.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:17PM (#39578623)
      Managers do serve some purpose. Where I work we haven't had one for over a year now - resulting in us having to put up with all of the political bullshit that goes on in the organisation and also getting rail-roaded despite objections to the idiotic ideas coming down from the Cxx types. Managers also sign off on budgets, performance reviews, salary reviews, etc., so guess what else hasn't been happening? Pretty soon our organisation will come down to give us more work and find nobody there because we're all slowly getting jobs elsewhere.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:44PM (#39578947)

        That's why I said most. You need one good manager. Not 10 bad ones.
        I stand by my statement that /most/ managers in American business culture are redundant.

        Unfortunately bad management is often a self-perpetuating malignancy. Those with power aren't going to eliminate their own positions under any circumstances.

        Unfortunately I envision the future of American business as feedback loop of middle managers, un-trackable N'th layer outsource subcontracts, and HR departments. Eventually the last actual producer will be eliminated, and all companies will suddenly collapse as they unknowingly try to subcontract services, supplies, and products from themselves.

        • by Ryanrule (1657199)
          There was an episode of dilbert where The Company outsourced their call center to themselves.
      • Sounds to me like you need to get rid of the idiotic Cxx types...

      • by Tom (822)

        resulting in us having to put up with all of the political bullshit that goes on

        Most of it goes on because of managers. Granted, in that game, if you're the only group without one, you are disadvantaged.

        Yes, managers have their place. However, theirs is a job that is stuck in the 18th century. Much of it should be handled by specialists or group consensus. It is high time that we redefine the job of management, but of course that won't happen anytime soon because it would be managers who'd have to introduce the new concepts... ...and it would turn out that most of them should be let go

    • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:53PM (#39579059)

      They're not all totally useless. I accidentally became one for a while and didn't realize it until a friend pointed it out. I griped that I'd been busting my ass all week juggling work schedules, project priorities, placating clients, liaising between subcontractors and government agencies, ensuring that my group had enough work to keep them busy, handling exceptions, training, etc. but I hadn't produced anything. "Dude, you're a manger."

      A good manager does the annoying crap that's necessary to keep his/her group running smoothly.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @07:09PM (#39579285)

        A manger!? Here!? We don't take too kindly to your types around here...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Sounds like you're a good manager. You help people do their jobs.

        Of course, in the eyes of "real" management you're a nobody.
        You didn't frat party your way through college while getting a barely above high school level buisness degree.
        You don't spend most of your time shmoozing, brownosing, attending endless meetings, backstabbing,demanding perfection in TPS report covers, or fudging useless metrics to make yourself look good

        "Real" Managers are graded and paid according to these things. You're doing all the

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rtb61 (674572)

        A 'bad' manager does the annoying crap. A good manager enjoys the varied trouble shooting they do every day, dealing with problem clients, calming upset employees, reorientating upper managements ideas into something workable and basically planing ahead sufficiently well to make themselves redundant (others always create problems to make that goal impossible).

        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          The ideal is to work out a system so efficient (but so elaborately complex) that the company runs really well... but if they fire you and try to replace you with some MBA fresh out of college it all goes in the shitter.

          "What the hell does 1-3PM MBA TABS mean?! I HAVE NO IDEA!"

          After a couple days of the new guy crying in a bathroom stall and repeating "Productivity is down! Productivity is down!" like a rape victim, you'll be re-hired before you know it.

        • I didn't want to manage anyone. I wanted to quit but was the only person in the company capable of performing a boring job required by a significant percentage of the projects that came through the company. I claimed I wanted to take a vacation so they gave me some part-timers who needed more hours to train up to cover my job while I was gone. I thought my job couldn't suck more but then I started managing people doing the job I wanted to quit. So, yeah, I considered it to be annoying crap. :)

          But it did

      • by mu51c10rd (187182)

        I like the bottom sentence of your post. I agree wholeheartedly, and try to do the same for my team as well. All I can hope is that what I am producing is an effective team that gets things done on time and correctly.

    • I've tried working remotely, and without people to talk to or get distracted by I end up taking fewer breaks and working longer hours. I'm probably more productive at home, but I could never do it for an extended period of time, because I end up stressed and burnt out. I'm sure other people are different, but my recommendation is that if you're thinking about working remotely you should try it for a couple of weeks before committing.
    • by mu51c10rd (187182)

      Some of us don't mind taking the heat off our employees, making sure they get recognition, budget, performance raises and bonuses. I had no idea how much work there was in management until I joined them. Most of my peers questioned why I would take this route...I always felt that the best way to repair broken management, is to fix it from the inside.
      More ontopic, I have zero issues with my team working from home, provided they are being productive and accomplishing the tasks given. I find myself more produc

  • One whole day. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Living Fractal (162153) <banantarr.hotmail@com> on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:16PM (#39578605) Homepage
    Seriously, what is one day? The novelty of working from home would wear off after about a week and then what? I know what. You'd find me 'working' in my underwear, covered in fried chicken with several empty margarita glasses about me. My e-mails would show a very noticeable trend in typos from about noon onward...
    • Before people jump on me for thinking this is a bad idea please just keep in mind that I'm only focused on the fact that their 'study' lasted a single day.
    • by CaptBubba (696284)

      I work from home and have been for a while. The novelty does wear off but the lack of interruptions does not.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Pity about the empty margarita glasses. I usually go with scotch, and the glass isn't empty for long.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    if they were working from their homes in India.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:26PM (#39578753)

    Keeping workers at home saves ~10 gallons of gas per person per week. Which is 200 fewer pounds per person per week of CO2.

  • the more time they goof off at home the less mistakes they make
  • by wynterwynd (265580) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:28PM (#39578779)

    I work in first-line management for a major telecom and this idea is really starting to take hold. And it's everything I imagined it would be.

    If you aren't directly managing employees and/or it isn't necessary for you to have physical access to equipment, there is no reason why working from home won't work. My boss and all my team are scattered all over the country, we've never met each other face to face. All my meetings are over the phone and via web conference. Nothing requires that I be anywhere near an office, just that I have a quiet place with telephone and high-speed internet access.

    We recently switched to allowing telecommuting 2-3 days a week. And let me tell you, it is Glorious. Those 2-3 days are the most productive ones I have, maybe because I'm comfortable and able to clearly think through issues, instead of being constantly interrupted by the asshole across the cube farm's ringtone or the loudmouth Sales guy on a call next cube over or a million other irritations at the office. And as far as the time-worn fears of slacking are concerned, honestly I have too much to do to slack off - any supervising manager would be able to tell pretty quickly whether or not their subordinates are abusing the privilege.

    Now, this clearly won't work for everyone for obvious reasons - IT support staff, hardware maintenance, client/customer support, supervising managers; you can't really cash in on this goodness. But if you don't deal with face-to-face interactions and your work is mostly conducted electronically, there's no reason not to - that is, as long as you can easily get to the office should the need come up or should your environment prove disruptive.

    Some people do abuse the shit out of it - I wanted to strangle the lady who was watching her kids while hosting a call; the kid was yelling and she was goo-goo talking to him and it was just grossly unprofessional. But most people who've been working from home have been extremely professional about it - in fact I usually never know who's at home and who's in the office.

    I'm glad to see stories like this - telecommuting has taken tons of stress/aggravation out of my work week and it's had an unfair reputation pinned to it by traditional managers who think it's just too good to be true.

    • by boristdog (133725)

      Unfortunately most managers still think if they cannot see you, you are not working. Yet here I am, in full view of management, goofing off on /.

      The only way I get to work from home is if I am "sick", so my old "stomach problems" come back every now and then. And I get WAY more work done on those days. But the management still doesn't get a clue.

      • But the point is you shouldnt need to use sick leave or go unpaid in order to 'work better'

        • by boristdog (133725)

          Fortunately, as long as I log in and do some work from home I still get paid as if I am working at the office and don't need to use sick leave. I just can't do it more than a day or two a month.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @07:33PM (#39579553) Homepage

      If you aren't directly managing employees and/or it isn't necessary for you to have physical access to equipment, there is no reason why working from home won't work.

      If the people you're supposed to manage aren't at the office either, it hardly matters.

      And as far as the time-worn fears of slacking are concerned, honestly I have too much to do to slack off - any supervising manager would be able to tell pretty quickly whether or not their subordinates are abusing the privilege.

      Just wait until there's a quiet period, you'd be surprised how quickly you get used to not working a full day and/or being able to do everything else in between work. Sure if I was grossly slacking my manager would notice but I've never had a boss yet who knew exactly how hard the assignment he gave me was and even if he did, there's a good variance on whether I've done something similar/exactly like this before and any ad hoc issues that might turn up. Hell, even the same person in the same job changes over time when new versions come that make everything easier or harder. Maybe if I was consistently on the poorer side of his estimates over time, but I'd just as easily wager his expectations would be lowered instead. The effect is less if you're at the office during business hours whether there's much work or not.

      Also there's another effect I've seen, it's cramming as much work as possible into your working days which obviously impacts quality to do as little as possible during your days at home, sending out yesterday's work as today's. The derogatory term for it here in Norway is "gjemmekontor" instead of "hjemmekontor" - literally translated "hiding office" instead of "home office". Oh sure they usually can't be completely unreachable as that would give it away but they're always conveniently running a quick errand or was putting on a washing machine or some other reason for not answering right away. Of course people do some minor personal stuff at work too, but not all day long. Okay so people don't do it during crunch time but it's a way to get "days off" without taking the financial penalty during normal times.

      You don't have to be a slacker to see how the slackers exploit the system. Some people are simply there that they want to deliver an adequate to below average work performance knowing they get an okay pay with a minimum of effort and yet aren't so horrible they'll get fired. And if they put that cleverness into doing their jobs instead of working the system, they'd be very good employees but they don't find there's enough incentive. It's actually very hard to find out whether your employees are really working their best or not. Of course slackers slack at work too, but it's not that enticing there.

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        This is gonna sound like a weird question, but are you required by law to take a lunch break when you telecommute?

        I know it depends on the area, but I really hate the "mandatory" lunch breaks. I'd rather skip lunch and be home 30-60 minutes earlier. I know the law is in there to protect us, but I'd really like to be able to opt-out.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          This is gonna sound like a weird question, but are you required by law to take a lunch break when you telecommute?

          Your jurisdiction may vary, but technically probably yes. At least here in Norway I couldn't find any exception for telecommuting, so normal rules apply. Though I've never had a practical problem with working through lunch and leaving half an hour early either at work or when telecommuting.

    • by alcourt (198386)

      I was thinking you were one of the managers I work with everyday until you said IT can't really take advantage of it. Your datacenter is probably manned only by a few people, and when your application's servers go down, they just call in a contractor who is asked to please turn the lights back off when they're done. Even the IT folks have never touched the hardware for the most part.

    • We recently switched to allowing telecommuting 2-3 days a week. And let me tell you, it is Glorious. Those 2-3 days are the most productive ones I have, maybe because I'm comfortable and able to clearly think through issues, instead of being constantly interrupted by the asshole across the cube farm's ringtone or the loudmouth Sales guy on a call next cube over or a million other irritations at the office. And as far as the time-worn fears of slacking are concerned, honestly I have too much to do to slack off - any supervising manager would be able to tell pretty quickly whether or not their subordinates are abusing the privilege.

      You're scratching at one of my pet peeves. Businesses hire (some) people for the express purpose of using their brains then put them in situations least conducive to that pursuit. A year ago the company I'm contracting at had a two-day conference where everyone in the department attended except me. I got more done in those two days on difficult tasks than I would have in several weeks' worth of normal days. No phones ringing. No copier beeping its head off. No hallway conversations. No co-workers dropping b

    • I work in an IT support function at the current customer. Basically, it's the classical ISP "mission control" role. Since we moved buildings last summer, we were put in "flex working spaces" which means 70% of our staff gets a seat, anywhere in the building, no longer access to our own equipment and laptop computers to accommodate the fact that we don't have our own desks anymore. Also, we're supposed to deal with that by working from home two days a week. Nobody even got a company cell phone.

      Your "IT sup
    • by Ka D'Argo (857749)
      "If you aren't directly managing employees and/or it isn't necessary for you to have physical access to equipment, there is no reason why working from home won't work."

      It depends upon what you mean by "necessary to have physical access to equipment". I was recently laid off from a technical support call center for a large voip provider. We had a work at home program for a certain percentage of employees. In theory it works out fine as you say but that is just that, in theory. The huge hurdle is successfu
  • Working from home is a win-win situation for everyone. The company saves lots of money by not needing premium office space and the employee is happier working in the comfort of their own home. The employee doesn't have commute expenses or office politics as well. Only the stodgiest and most old fashioned of employers refuse to entertain the possibility. I gather there are some managers that just have to micromanage. Stories like these might have cost-concious companies looking for savings and this coul
    • Only the stodgiest and most old fashioned of employers refuse to entertain the possibility. I gather there are some managers that just have to micromanage. Stories like these might have cost-concious companies looking for savings and this could be a way to bring jobs back onshore. Imagine the amounts of money that could go to salaries and benefits if you didn't need a behemouth building. The technology exists to make telecommuting entirely feasible.

      When I had three WFH days a week, I was far more productive in that I went ahead and started at 6:30am since I didn't have to dress for the office, nor commute in. I'd usually shower at lunch, and I'd keep email open at least until 6:30pm. My desk phone was forwarded to my cell, so if I had to pick up my daughter, or leave home for any other reason, I could still field client calls. They ended getting a solid 9-10 hours a day out of me on those three. I loved it because it was an opportunity to tie up loose

    • by Kalriath (849904)

      So by "stodgiest and most old fashioned" you mean all of them? Where I am, doesn't matter where you work, only managers are ever allowed to work from home. And I suspect "work from home" really means "work from golf course". (Granted, some of those managers work at work and home - we've got one that can be seen working no less than 16 hours per day).

  • Employees that are comfortable, relaxed and happy are more productive. Better rush them back into the cube farm to be lulled asleep by the sea of mindless chatter and relentless policies designed to make the staff virtual automatons.
  • by toygeek (473120) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @06:49PM (#39579015) Homepage Journal

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/working_home [theoatmeal.com]

    All that being said, I work for a virtual call center at home doing tech support for n00bs and the like and I really like it.

  • The article states "Only a third of telecom staff are productive."

  • Somehwat BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @07:22PM (#39579445)

    I took a few weeks working from home, leading up to my wife giving birth to our second child. I'm a Staff Software Engineer for a large company, w/ 10 years experience. _I_ was far more productive in those weeks. But my overall productivity? Well, I sure as shit didn't help the new folks out, nearly as much as when I was actually in the office. So yes, local productivity (AKA me) improved. Global productivity, however, is arguable.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Find a better collaboration software package and learn how to use it. If you can only help someone by pointing to coding errors on their monitor, you're doing it wrong.
      Back in '90 I helped another system administrator fix one of his systems by having him start a second terminal sesssion and cat /dev/pts/5 > /dev/pts/12 (He was root on /5 and I was NOT root on /12.) This kept me from having to drive to work at 8pm and didn't require him giving me the root password.

      Today, you can get secure meeting soft

  • by gstrickler (920733) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @10:39PM (#39580905)

    Why wouldn't I make that claim?

    Actually, most of the time I claim the opposite, home has too many distractions, I'm usually more productive in the office after 5pm. But I'm also a "night owl", so I'm quite productive at home in the evening until about 1am. Just don't expect me to do any real thinking before 10am.

  • So how does this work for those people who actually enjoy their place of work, and the people they work with? Where's the office banter? The camaraderie? The sneaky lunchtime visits to the pub?

    What about training? How do train someone to work on your product if there's no one there to train them up and show them the ropes?

    Sure you can argue that working form home does not suit every business, but to the those businesses that encourage it (i.e. O2) I would ask - how do you build a team that has never a
  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @01:17AM (#39581705)

    ... improve office productivity by staying home.

    I've worked with (and for) a number of people who could markedly improve our organizations efficiency if they'd only promise never to set foot on company property again. Heck, we could even give them a raise and promotion as a part of the deal and we'd still come out ahead.

  • So if one third are more productive, what about the rest?

  • One day says nothing about long-term results. It really is as simple as that. Run that experiment again with a full month, then you can say something worthwhile.

  • Following Jack Welsh's 20% rule: the top 20% should be coached/promoted, the middle 60% encouraged to improve and the (12% in this case) that can't deal with working from home should be well told to stay home without pay :-) I wonder if we are going to get to the point were they'll be a market for office space that is shared by companies. All the employees that aren't manageable remotely have to "go to the office" were one outsourced "manager" is there to babysit them?

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