Can you go home?
Like a lot of folks, I have a home office, really a sort of
alcove in the basement. Where I live, they call the basement the "lower level,"
and mine's finished with paneling and carpeting.
I'm pretty self-sufficient down there. Still, I'd have a lot of trouble going to work
if it meant going down the into the basement and settling in at the old steel desk. Here
would be my initial train of thought:
Has the tortoise been fed? ...I really ought to vacuum the spiders out of the
fluorescent light panels. ...Gee, I could get those hollies trimmed out back. ...I wonder
if Concentration is still on in the mornings. ...Can't my daughter find some
other place to roll marbles on the floor other than above my head?
You get the idea.
That's why I was intrigued with the most recent manifestation of telecommuting, in
which the seven employees of the National Energy and Water Management Center in Fort
Worth, Texas, are working not from a remote office site but from their homes. More
commonly, GSA offices have been moved from central cities to outlying office space--saving
commuting time and expense and, to a degree, rent. But sending people home--that's another
It's a trend that government managers need to think through carefully. Here are a few
of the caveats I see:
Finally, there are health, safety and legal questions. For example, is the agency
responsible if someone is injured while working at home? Or if a faulty monitor ends up
burning down the house?
There certainly are benefits to atomizing offices in some instances. The evidence is
that millions are quite successful at it. But it's not for everybody.