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Mobile Workers Work Longer Hours 117

Posted by timothy
from the but-the-commute-is-great dept.
Qedward writes "Last month it was reported on slashdot that a third of workers at a British telecoms company were 'more productive' working from home during a telecommuting experiment to prepare for the London 2012 Olympics. A more recent study reveals almost two-thirds of mobile employees say they are working 50+ and 60+ hour weeks, with most also working weekends. It also has security implications, with most mobile workers saying they will do anything to get an internet connection, including hijacking unsecure networks. The problem of needing a connection has also led to an increase in workers waking up through the night due to stress."
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Mobile Workers Work Longer Hours

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  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by war4peace (1628283) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:06PM (#40104463)

    "The problem of needing a connection has also led to an increase in workers waking up through the night due to stress."
    Seriously?
    What in the world is this shit? How can someone even attempt to work from home without a solid Internet connection and with no secure method of connecting to the company network? And waking up in the middle of the night because you need a connection to the fucking internet? Man, what a mess we're living in. And I thought I was messed up.
    Just get a fucking solid Internet connection. Surely one could afford it, I mean come on...

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:09PM (#40104487)

      Even ignoring the connection thing, stress while working from home is a problem. The work is with you all day long and you feel pressured to keep whittling away at it, making relaxation difficult.

      • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dark12222000 (1076451) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:31PM (#40104645)
        Some people, myself included, can switch "work mode" on and off effectively. It's also at times useful to be able to pick at problems, especially stubborn ones.

        Obviously, your mileage will vary. Working from home isn't for everyone - some people concentrate better at work, some people can't stop working if they work from home, so on, but for some, it's quite advantageous.
      • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by war4peace (1628283) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:34PM (#40104681)

        Bullshit.
        I've been working from home for a while and it's very relaxing. You can dress very, VERY casually, for example. I attended many a meetings while sitting butt-naked in a cozy chair. You can have a beer or whatever (I don't drink alcohol, though), you can pet the cat (I do) and so on and so forth. Lack of noisy-nosy-annoying colleagues is a plus. And as far as work being with you all day long, in a world where a laptop is ubiquitous and you can take it home, not to mention company provided VPN and webmail or mobile device connectivity, well, work's there already.
        I honestly think that whoever worries more while working from home either doesn't understand what "working from home" means or has deeper problems (including but not limited to a pathological fear of being fired).

        • Re:What? (Score:4, Funny)

          by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:43PM (#40104733) Homepage Journal

          Bullshit. I've been working from home for a while and it's very relaxing. You can dress very, VERY casually, for example. I attended many a meetings while sitting butt-naked in a cozy chair. You can have a beer or whatever (I don't drink alcohol, though), you can pet the cat (I do) and so on and so forth.

          While you probably make many excellent points, I only managed to read so far as the part about being butt-nekkid, rubbin' pussy all day...

          Hell yea! Where do I sign up??

        • Re:What? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Niomosy (1503) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:56PM (#40104821)

          I had a friend work at a large company that began moving to working from home. He jumped at it, rented his house out, and rented a place out in Hawaii with his girlfriend. He loved it. Not too many others jumped in. He was baffled and started asking why. No one wanted to be at home all day. Some found being at home too stressful; spouse, small kids, noise, etc. Others simply liked being around other people they know for a part of the day. Others were too programmed with the office/home mentality of work/not-work.

          • True, I stopped working from home when my son was born, but that's because we rent a tiny apartment and he sleeps while I work and I am in meetings a lot. So it's not that it doesn't work for me; it doesn't work for him well.

          • by x1r8a3k (1170111)
            The biggest reason I've seen is sitting at home all day you develop something like cabin fever.
            • by mikael_j (106439)

              That sounds like a good reason for getting a social life outside of work.

              I rarely socialize with coworkers outside the office, I have "real" friends. (real in quotation marks to distinguish them from those "friends" some people have through work who are really just people they hang out with because it's convenient).

              • by Kjella (173770)

                I rarely socialize with coworkers outside the office, I have "real" friends. (real in quotation marks to distinguish them from those "friends" some people have through work who are really just people they hang out with because it's convenient).

                Well, many of the people I am friends with are people that at some point was convenient to hang with, be it friends of friends, school mates, fellow students, sports team etc. so why not coworkers? When you're chatting at the lunch table you've already passed many barriers compared to making friends with a random stranger. Of course hopefully you have old friends as well but people drift apart and move away or get too busy with girlfriends and family so if you're not replenishing your social network it's li

                • by mikael_j (106439)

                  Well, obviously a lot of the people I know are people I have met in various places over the years, a few through work, others through other friends, some that I've just bumped into somewhere and somehow we became friends.

                  My point was more about those who use work as their primary source of social interaction and mostly have "friends" that are also coworkers. Whenever I've left a job I can safely say I've only kept in touch with maybe one in ten of my coworkers, not because I disliked them but because to be

            • I work from home 3 days a week, and have children and this is my biggest problem. Probably because I have children at home. Otherwise working from home is great. But I don't get stressed, I don't wake up in the middle of the night stressed, and I sure as hell ain't on call 24 hours a day.

              I do like to be able to start coding something though, and not have to stop at a quarter to five, drive an hour home and then start working on it tomorrow. It's nice to start coding something, work on it till it's done.

        • And you never have to worry about anyone stealing your special red stapler.
    • The question is why were they having issues. Was it due to the business network getting clogged up during working hours?
  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:07PM (#40104471) Homepage

    a third of workers [...] were 'more productive'

    two-thirds of mobile employees say they are working 50+ and 60+ hour weeks

    Which means a third is working more hours while not doing a damn thing more.
    Either that or a lot of people are lying about how much they work.

    • by DdJ (10790)

      Why should they be fired, unless they're billing by the hour?

      A third of them might be taking longer to do the same work because they're taking more breaks, cleaning up after a kid, answering the door, whatever -- dealing with more interruptions. But if they're doing the same amount of work and being paid the same amount, why should anyone care?

      (If they're paid by the hour and billing more hours, then okay.)

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:26PM (#40104597)

      Reporter: "How many people work in your company?"

      CEO: "Oh, about half."

      • Reporter: "How many people work in your company?"

        CEO: "Oh, about half."

        Yea, the numbers got a little better after we made the floggings mandatory...

    • OK everybody, whoever is working at home, raise their hand.....

      Good... Now, everybody who is reading Slashdot and working at home, raise their hand.

      Ah, funny that. Same hands....

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Are you implying they are slacking off because they are "working" from home?
        Because I'm currently "working" at work and reading /.

        (posted AC for obvious reasons)

    • by xelah (176252) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @06:01PM (#40104857)

      a third of workers [...] were 'more productive'

      two-thirds of mobile employees say they are working 50+ and 60+ hour weeks

      Which means a third is working more hours while not doing a damn thing more. Either that or a lot of people are lying about how much they work.

      No, it doesn't - more productive means doing more per hour, not doing more by spending more time working. In fact, you'd expect lower productivity from people working 50+ hours, not higher, ceteris parabis. What I suspect does happen, though, is that chopping two hours of commuting out of the day makes it possible to work longer before getting the same level of productivity fall....but that really is just my guess.

    • by sorak (246725)

      a third of workers [...] were 'more productive'

      two-thirds of mobile employees say they are working 50+ and 60+ hour weeks

      Which means a third is working more hours while not doing a damn thing more.
      Either that or a lot of people are lying about how much they work.

      Or they were working 50+ or 60+ hours before, and now they're getting more done in the same amount of time. Or, they accomplish the same amount in the time they're working, but they spend more time working because their bosses confuse "working from home" with "always on call".

    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @06:40PM (#40105131)

      One of my closest friends became a remote worker after having worked with them for a few years. She now puts in more than 40 hours per week on a regular basis, but it isn't for lack of productivity. It's because she's out of sight and out of mind, which leads to all sorts of problems.

      Just this week, she had the following happen:
      1) She was assigned a task on Monday with a hard deadline of Friday morning. It was a tight deadline, but she figured she was up for it.

      2) She discovered that she couldn't start until TRIVIAL_TASK_X was done on their end, so she let them know and worked on some bugs in the meantime, figuring it'd be handled immediately.

      3) She reminded them that X needed to be done. And again. And again.

      4) They started X on Wednesday and finished it an hour later, leaving her two days instead of the necessary four for the task.

      5) She asked for help, since there was no way she could easily meet the deadline. Her request was denied, and she was told to make it happen anyway.

      6) Because she's not paid by the hour and was told to still meet the deadline, she felt obligated to put in 16 hours on Wednesday and another 16 today.

      That sort of thing never used to happen to her in the years that she was working on-site, but stuff like this (though not this bad) happens rather frequently for her these days. Whenever she visits them on-site, things are good again for awhile, but then they seem to forget that she's not a machine after awhile. She's ended up being the person who receives all the tasks that no one else wants to do, and she's had excessive work land in her lap on a much more regular basis since moving off-site. She's no less productive today than she was when she was on-site. She simply has more demanded of her since she's out of sight and mind and they fail to realize the burden they are placing on her. (And, to be fair, I think part of the blame lies with her for not speaking up more often or more clearly).

      Meanwhile, I work 40 hours a week. The idea that if you need overtime your manager probably messed up is a part of the culture here. I keep telling her to quit. She keeps staying with them like an abused spouse.

      • I've heard the same sorts of stories many times, and I do believe every word of them.

        However they all share a common theme, which boils down to the fact that the company has ass-hat managers.

        Is the lesson really don't work from home when your manager is an ass-hat; or is the lesson that working for ass-hats sucks and you shouldn't do it?

        • Oh, I completely agree. I wasn't using my post to suggest that working from home is a bad idea. I was using it to suggest that the previous poster's idea that remote workers are simply wasting time and being unproductive isn't considering other factors that may be in play.

      • by Riskable (19437)

        Your "friend" needs to get over it and stand up for herself. Seriously, I work from home 100% and this kind of crap happens all the time. Even to folks who work in the office. The only difference is that the folks in the office CANNOT get the work done while the person at home can.

        This is the perfect example of, "just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD." Just tell your boss or whoever that you were given two days to get a job done that takes five. Or do what I do: Convince them that the task doesn't n

        • My "friend" really is a friend. This wasn't all just a half-assed attempt at being sly on my part with a personal problem, though I can't blame you for thinking otherwise. She was a college friend of mine and I've kept in touch with her and her husband (who's also a friend of mine and a former roommate) since they moved away a few years ago. We IM chat most days, so we both tend to be pretty aware of what's going on at the other person's work.

          And I completely agree. I've been suggesting time and again that

        • I can relate to that. I don't work from home, but could, but the boss wants me in the office, while he 'works' from home. But he regularly has these ideas - notions really - for improving things and does a sort of Office Space-like manager thing - 'Why don't you go ahead and set that ____ up'. My usual response is to research whatever it is he is trying to get me to implement, itemize all of the drawbacks and in my own sweet time let him know that it is something we shouldn't do. Waste of time, waste of mon
      • by plopez (54068)

        Her mistake was that when she found out trivial task X was not done was in not taking the rest of the day off. Do chores, run errands, watch telly, work out, take an online course, or make some other good use of your time. But don't let yourself get screwed out of you life. Oh, and don't bill for those hours. It would be unethical. But bill for the late hours you have to put in. It should even out if you are careful.

  • "Employees say..." (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bryan1945 (301828) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:09PM (#40104485) Journal

    Yeah, and I have Bigfoot doing all the server backups. You expect them to say they are doing less work? Or even the same amount of work? No confirmation from their companies on whether the company saw an increase in productivity?
    Now before everyone gets flippy, I have known some people who did the mobile thing and were more productive, mostly because they didn't have people interrupting them every 5 minutes, and actually liked working more (as in hours) that way because it was more enjoyable. I also have known people that did their work in 3 hours and played games the rest of the day (also maybe because they could do 8 hours in 3 because of less distractions.

    Main point- employees are never going to say anything bad about work out of the office.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      If I could work from home I'd be willing to work 10 more hours each week (the amount of time I spend on the road). Of course driving is more fun than work, so maybe cut that in half.

      • by bryan1945 (301828)

        You know what, I'd probably do the same thing. Add in the time to shave, shower optional, getting dressed in the monkey suit all adds up, plus the drive time. Hell, I could check my email while eating my Raisin Bran. Pop on the local sports radio show while doing whatever, and it's like driving (well, for me anyway). And just being able to have the temperature below 76 degrees would be worth at least 3-4 hours. (I swear, women are reptiles)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      This is me. Less distractions, get same amount of work done in less time, play games on my computer on company time. Love working from home. Posted AnonCoward for reasons that should be obvious.
  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:11PM (#40104501) Homepage Journal

    But having commuted for five hours a day in the past, and worked from home on other occasions, I would much rather work nine hours at home than work for eight in the office with even one hour of commuting.

    Fuel, tires, collisions, stress, bus fair, everything associated with commuting sucks. I would much rather talk on the phone and fill out my work logs in my underwear than that.

    • by houghi (78078) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @06:13PM (#40104945)

      I would much rather work nine hours at home than work for eight in the office with even one hour of commuting.

      I am the opposite. I would rather work with people then without them.
      I know I would be less productive and hating it while I would be doing it. I like to have my home and my work completely separated.

      As the people are most likely volunteers, it would seem logical that people who volunteer, wanted to do it. Those will then be more likely to be indeed more productive.

      So perhaps it is not so much about telecommuters being more productive, but people who are in an environment they like to work in are more productive. (DUH!)

      Let them force people who do not want it to work at home and see if the same happens.

      I have absolutely no problem with the commuting part of it. I even see it as relaxing. Most of the time I listen to books and I often take detours that takes me even longer to get home. Once I am home, I like being there and do non-work related stuff.

      • by pecosdave (536896) *

        Well, you obviously don't live/work near Houston.

      • by crafty.munchkin (1220528) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:41PM (#40106119)
        I love my 10 hrs per week on the train - it gives me the opportunity to do 10hrs per week of reading, which when I was driving to and from work, I didn't have. In the last 5 years, I have read around 400 novels, and I arrive at work in the mornings in a great mood, as opposed to spending 1hr in traffic and arriving at work stressed out because 100 people have cut me off and nearly killed me. Similarly for getting home - I arrive home relaxed, instead of stressed out.

        When I do have the occasion to work a full day from home (rare, but it happens) I end up working a 10hr day, and find myself missing that reading time.

        • by pecosdave (536896) *

          I wish we had a good train system around here. I used to take the bus downtown, but to say the least there was too much over-crowding, bouncing, jerking around and too many traffic fumes to properly enjoy reading. I did some of that, but it was easier some trips that others.

  • by rgbrenner (317308) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:29PM (#40104629)

    Worked from home for the past 10 years...

    I have no doubt they say they work longer... but it's more likely they just feel like they are working longer.

    With no separation between work and home, it can feel like you are always working, even when you're not. And that is what keeps them up at night.. the stress from never being able to wind-down.

    • by pecosdave (536896) *

      I'm sure that's the case for many people, but I've worked from home and I can tell you I was just as busy at home if not more so. There's nothing like having to take a leak in your own home with the bathroom being 20 feet away and not being able to do it because you can't get away from the phone. Heck, at the office I had people come by and chat, had meetings, and lots of little BS manual tasks, at home it was nothing but pure phone and remote support and the people were stacked up in the queue so deep yo

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        "here's nothing like having to take a leak in your own home with the bathroom being 20 feet away and not being able to do it because you can't get away from the phone."

        There is a secret technology called bluetoothso you can be on the phone with a headset. and if you sit and pee they cant hear you, that's why girls do it.

        • by pecosdave (536896) *

          I actually had one of these things [itrush.com], but the range sucked, even with my tiny little house made of wood it would cut out when I left the formerly screened in porch converted into a bedroom we called my office.

          Also, a good portion of my work was done with remote control programs where I took over the users computer with them watching. Usually I would try to sneak in a leak when we first initiated a call while I was talking them through setting up their system so I could get in. BTW, Bomgar [bomgar.com] is awesome.

    • This is what I discovered. It actually got to the point where to do "work" i left the house and went to my favorite cafe in town. They had wifi, but I have a mobile hotspot as well for another means of connecting if they happen to be having issues or their connection is over saturated.

      It's 10 minutes away by bike, or about 5 by car if the weather is bad and usually my routine is wake up about 7AM, check email for anything important overnight, go take a shower and grab a snack for breakfast, get to the caf

  • what will happen with Olympics network over load?

    I can see working at home turning into a big mess. even more so if cable nodes over load.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @06:22PM (#40105005) Homepage

    When I work from home, I dont even THINK of starting until start time and I am offline the second 5pm hits. Phones go to voicemail, sucks to be you with yout 5:01 TPS report as I will not even know about it until 7:59 the nest morning.

    If you let your employer abuse you, they expect you to take it. Stand up and realize you are doing your office a favor by working there, not the other way around.

  • To hell with cube's. And where I live, local companies still won't let people work remote which is funny because they also can't find developers.
  • "The problem of needing a connection has also led to an increase in workers waking up through the night due to stress."

    A spliff before bed does wonders for that.... ;)

  • What? People more productive?

    Why? They are only:
    - away from noisy cubes.
    - away from hallway meetings.
    - saving time from a commute.
    - saving aggravation from a commute.
    - a few feet from their private bathrooms and break-rooms. (Not several hundred feet down a long, busy hall.)

    BellSouth (now AT&T) also discovered a productivity boost among employees allowed to telecommute during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

    • What? People more productive?

      Why? They are only: - away from noisy cubes. - away from hallway meetings. - saving time from a commute. - saving aggravation from a commute. - a few feet from their private bathrooms and break-rooms. (Not several hundred feet down a long, busy hall.)

      BellSouth (now AT&T) also discovered a productivity boost among employees allowed to telecommute during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

      The first two items are total productivity killers for me. I can't count the number of times I've had to put on headphones in an attempt to filter out co-workers' talking. Now if I could just get people to use complete, understandable sentences when they IM me, I'd get even more work done.

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @07:48PM (#40105429) Homepage

    Data security classically was: you keep your data in a mainframe, and give people only terminals.

    Then it was: You give people PCs, but put gum in the USB slots.

    These days that's hard to do because motherboards want keyboards and mice to be USB.

    Not to mention laptops. And in some companies (like Nokia US), it's all laptops all the time. And mobile (i.e., no) offices.

    In such a scenario, how do you protect against an employee who wants to cp the entire database (design, products, customers, whatever)? Or other documents?

    Maybe this should be an Ask Slashdot.

    • by Belial6 (794905) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:36PM (#40106093)
      First thing you do is figure out if this is something that you even need to worry about. All security is about making it harder to get something than the effort to get it is worth. In homes, some people just use a lock on the front door. Others use a deadbolt. Others Still use as security door. The reality is that a battery operated recipical saw will take you right through the walls of most homes. No one builds their walls out of steel to prevent that simple attack on the house. Why? Because burgelers are not going to take that kind of effort to get in.

      That same needs to be looked at with corporate security. Some businesses really do need super high security. Most do not.
  • Enterprise global Wi-Fi network provider iPass surveyed 1,700 mobile employees at 1,100 enterprises worldwide...The survey also found that 88 percent of these wireless heads thought cable-free access was "as important to their lives, or almost, as running water and electricity". Another 95 percent reported significant reductions in their job productivity without wireless access.

    It's not clear to me that "mobile worker" means the same as "telecommuter". But the article seems to be saying that companies need to run out and buy more Enterprise Global Wi-Fi Networks (tm) so they can get employees happily working 60 hours per week and being more productive at the same time. Sure, we'll get right on that.

  • by rossdee (243626) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:58PM (#40106183)

    Mobile workers work longer hours than workers in other cities in Alabama.

    • The summary provided is indeed a mish-mash of confusion: Is it about telecommuters or, indeed, "mobile" workers?!?

  • Telecommuters work from home. They do not need to worry about connection because they are at home and they have one available (unless they are so cheap that they are connecting to theirs neighbours').

    Mobile workers (aka road warriors) are the guys that roam the country (think of vendors) and have to connect to office from wherever they are. I know a lot of them and yes they work at all, mostly because after their normal routine they often are stranded in someplace where they know nobody so, instead of being

  • Who supervises the ones that work from home and how effective is it? Keeping an eye on staff working in an office is difficult enough, but it is more challenging if they are at a remote location. So how does it work?
    • by plopez (54068)

      You look at their results. Are they delivering quality work on deadline or in a reasonable amount of time? Are they making sales? Are clients/customers happy with their work? Aren't those the only things that matter?

  • Unsecured networks? (Score:5, Informative)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday May 25, 2012 @03:16AM (#40107303)
    What the hell are firms doing even making it possible to connect to their systems on unsecured servers? I've worked from home for years (well, 3 days at home, 2 in the office) and the only way I can connect is via my work laptop which has an encrypted hard drive and connects via VPN and an RSA keyfob thingy. Trying to connect any other way means you'll just get rejected by the servers and rightly so.

    As for hours, yes, I work longer hours at home but I can work them when I want (more or less, meetings permitting) so can be around for the school run, making dinner for the family in the evening etc.
  • 50 to 60 hours? Yet when you deduct the commute they're back to under par.

    Maybe they should try farming. I only work 80 to 100 hours a week, but at least I don't have to commute and the quality of life is spectacular farming.

  • Okay so if you are in the office (or in a remote office) they would stump for your internet connection so why is it not common practice to pay for a connection for your telecommuters??

    (aka why is an internet connection an issue??)

  • by plopez (54068) on Friday May 25, 2012 @10:24AM (#40109331) Journal

    OK, suppose they put in the same amount of effort as in the office. Now consider the following:

    1) They do not have to commute. That saves hours of time each week, a two hour daily commute amounts to 10 hours a week. They are in fact recapturing some of those extra hours.

    2) Less commuting means less stress and probably better productivity.

    3) They save money on bus fares and other commuting expenses. A de facto pay raise.

    4) In some places I have worked parents had to take an hour or so to pick up kids, drop them off at home or day care then rush back to work. The creates less need for rushing around and/or paying for day care. That is an instant increase in quality of life.

    Those are a few of the immediate benefits I see. My conclusion is that even if they work a few more hours, they benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

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