If you read this blog, you’re probably already redefining the work paradigm. I’d like to hear from you about what the 21st-century workplace should look like.

I worked outside of the home for many years. I hated that I saw more of my co-workers than I did my family. For one two-year period, my work day and commute combined made for an 11-hour day. There were days when I sent my kid to school with a fever.

It always seemed like I was knocking myself out to pay for a home and a home life that I didn’t have the time or energy to enjoy and, in fact, was often forced to neglect. Unacceptable. So I did what I had to do to make my career portable.

If you read this blog, you’re probably already redefining the work paradigm. I’d like to hear from you about what the 21st-century workplace should look like.

I may soon be in a position to make decisions about teleworking for a staff. I feel very strongly that workers should have the option to work in or out of the office (or a bit of both).

I’m also very concerned about the burden the traditional work model places on the environment (commuting, powering facilities, maintaining equipment, etc.). The prospect of being able to design a life-friendly and earth-friendly company from scratch is very exciting.

I’m specifically interested in your views on how much time should be spent in and out of an office. I hope you won’t mind if I consult you in the future about other topics, such as what you miss most about working in an office and how you prefer to communicate with remote co-workers.

So what would be ideal for you? Would one day a week at the office be enough? Or none at all? Would you really like to be home just on Wednesdays because your kids get out of school early that day? Would getting away from office distractions every other week make you more productive?

I’m looking forward to your input! You’re the experts, after all.

By Pamela Poole

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  1. I currently work one day at the office (required by management), and even that is one day too many. Frankly, I face far more distractions at the office than I gain in collaborative value.

    The more I work at home, the more useless the office seems to be. The time wasted. The fuel. The loud and annoying cacophony of chatter. The endless ironing of shirts. :)

    For many types of work, going to the office is an archaic idea whose time has passed. Fortunately for me, the work I do is one of them.

  2. Shane Mingins Monday, April 14, 2008

    I have just completed the first year of working from home. And I have loved it!

    Here are some of the highlighted positives:

    1. I actually feel like seeing people at the end of the week. I think after seeing people at work during the week I tended to like more solitude over the weekend.

    2. I see my kids MORE. Yesterday I walked up to their school and kindergarten … and then had a milkshake with my eldest.

    3. I get sick less … if at all! This is probably due to less time in trains and other confined spaces with (sick) people over the winter months, but I also think just being at home ‘helps’ you feel better :-)

    4. My wife feels like there is more ‘calmness’ in the home. The kids know that DAD is just downstairs … and will come up if needed.

    So for me zero-days in an office works very well. I don’t mind visiting the office occassionally … but then that is a trip to the US and sunny Santa Barbara … so more like a vacation for me … not so more my wife ;-)

  3. I’ve been working from home for the past 3+ years. I have to say it took some adjusting, but once I found my rhythm it was easy to get up and get going each day.

    I would have a hard time going back to a traditional office for several reasons:

    (1) Productivity. I’m able to get much more done at home with minimal distractions. Every time I go to one of our work sites, I have to play tech support for everyone and cannot get anything done.

    (2)Flexibility. I am fortunate to also have a flexible schedule. I get up and start working between 5:30-6 am. This is well before any of my co-workers get cranking. I also break up my day with exercise so I can try and stay in shape. I definitely put in the hours, but they are spread out through the day.

    (3)Commuting. I hate commuting and save a ton of $ on gas, vehicle maintenance and time. I also save a lot of money by making lunch at the house. I create less of an impact on the environment.

    I do miss being with others at times so I’m now exploring the option of co-working with others in my field. It will be a breath of creative fresh air I think.

  4. The 21st Century workplace looks like a laptop.

    If my former co-workers had been high performers, I’d probably miss a physical workplace more. Not having to deal with manufactured emergencies from people trying to make themselves feel important allows me to focus on priority tasks without interruption. Now I get to measure my work strictly be output, and it’s been nothing but liberating. If I start to get cabin fever, I just walk to a nearby coffeehouse but more often than not I enjoy the silence and concentration of working at home.

  5. I passed one year as a fulltime, home-based worker in February. It’s been an interesting time, one that I wouldn’t trade it for any office life.

    I do however miss being around people besides my own child. Coffee shops go a little way toward fixing that need, but don’t quite fill the void. I am also considering coworking, but haven’t found anything close enough. Which has lead me to also consider starting my own.

    While I never actually did time in an office environment, I have spent time on projects onsite with clients. It’s a huge difference for me in work accomplished. Being able to jump from project to project really fits me better and would likely be frowned upon in a larger company.

  6. Our advice would be to give your staff complete autonomy – let them decide how to spend their time, along where to spend it, as long as they get the work done. We agree with Chris – the office is archaic. Why put any guidelines around how many days people should be there?

    The biggest challenges in giving complete freedom to employees are 1) trusting them enough to make the right decisions and actually get the work done and 2) setting crystal goals and expectations.

    Personally, we don’t have an office and our employees don’t either. Our staff is exceeding expectations and they wouldn’t dream of working anywhere else.

    We applaud you for asking for advice on this important topic – the 21st century workplace isn’t a ‘place’ at all. And that’s cool.

    Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson
    Creators of the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)
    Authors of the forthcoming book “WHY WORK SUCKS AND HOW TO FIX IT”

  7. I left “the office” last year and vow to never go back. My reasons are really not that different from what has already been listed above.

  8. i have been working from home for 17 years, based in the Highlands. my goal has also been to set up a virtual outsourcing business, connecting other homeworkers from around the world.

    when i couldn’t find a way of doing it sustainably as a standalone entity, i got together with a number of other homeworking friends and created a web platform for outsourcing online work.

    i thought if i couldn’t do it for myself, at least i could help others to attain a similar goal. it hasn’t been easy to get the funding to get such an operation off the ground. we are currently in alpha development, but about to launch in the next few weeks. if you have similar goals in your life, why not check us out?


  9. I’ve worked full-time in offices for the last twenty years, but now I’m getting experience of working the odd day at home too.

    What I notice is that IF I can manage to knuckle down and do the work, I’m a hundred times more productive. I can get a whole day’s work done in three hours if I have to.

    However, it’s desperately hard to actually force myself to start. Sometimes even cleaning the toilet seems preferrable to starting work!

    I guess it depends on how focussed and single-minded you are about it. For some it could work, but I suspect that it wouldn’t really be in my best interests as I’m not disciplined enough.

  10. Chris (of the ironed shirts), I absolutely agree with you that the traditional office is no longer relevant. I have sat in so many offices thinking “I could be doing this at home” –and some of those were even pre-Internet! I imagine that as old-school managers (a comment on outlook, not age) are gradually replaced by those who’ve embraced or grown up with the web, the workplace will adapt.


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