Why “Air Quotes” Drive Work Life Reform Back

by Chrysula on March 11, 2011 in defining,reforming,work life balance

Morra Aarons Mele recently talked all things work life with Christine Koh over at the Pulse Network. I wanted to jump up from my latop and cheer when Morra reminded us not to put the dreaded air quotes, either literally or with our tone of voice around working from home.

It is so easy to give off that subtle, virtual eye-roll when we speak with distrust about the working from home phenomenon. That’s not to say the privilege does not ever get abused. But it is a two way contract of deliverables and trust that is required for a successful telecommuting or working from home set up.

As Leanne Chase over at Career Life Connection reminds us, “balance is not black and white.” Nor are the tools and motivations for home based work. There are many, many possibilities for why telecommuting or it’s various cousins could be partial or even complete solutions for greater effectiveness and workplace productivity–providing the compact between workplace and employee has been clearly structured and accountabilities articulated. Cali Yost offers a great case study on this at Work+Life Fit today.

Meanwhile, every time we laughingly say, “Oh he’s “working from home” today (wink, wink),” we take another backward step for crucial pieces of the work life reform puzzle. If you’re messing around on those work from home days, you’re shooting not only yourself, but millions of the rest of us in the foot. And as employers, if you’re not setting realistic and empowering parameters, you are not going to get the best you can from your work from home teams.

How do you stay on task and committed on your work from home days? How do you navigate conversations that suggest people who work from home are all (to quote my beloved Brits) ‘skivvers’? How have you established clear arrangements to ensure your teams who are home based are delivering as they should?

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{ 6 comments }

Leanne Chase - @LeanneCLC March 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Great piece. I find it so interesting how we think of work and the time put into work. A friend of mine just put in to work from home one day a week. She acknowledges that she won’t be as productive that day and plans to add some personal errands in that day and called it the “biggest scam” that she gets to be home that day. However, she readily admitted that she will be working much harder and longer on the days she is in the office…because she is a good worker, does good work and gets it done and has for this company for many years. So I don’t understand what the “scam” is. She gets a day to do a few personal things, yet she will still get her work done.

Once the work world understands that work is what you do, not where or when you do it, we’ll all be much better off.

Diana Antholis March 11, 2011 at 11:42 pm

I really like your last line, “Once the work world understands that work is what you do, not where or when you do it, we’ll all be much better off.”
So incredibly true.

Chrysula March 12, 2011 at 2:56 am

The fact that we undermine the value of our own very hard work is the part of this that drives me even crazier. But the old habits of “time” whether it be face time or not, are very, very difficult to break. Even in ourselves.

Christine Koh March 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Thanks for sharing the episode and highlighting this important topic. As someone who (if I may say so) kicks professional arse from home, I have always bristled about the work at home air quotes phenomenon. It’s a disservice to anyone trying to negotiate flex options, as Morra and I discussed on the episode.

I think the key is negotiating for flex then DELIVERING. Every little bit people can do to bust down the stereotypes helps.

Chrysula March 12, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I’m so with you Christine. Whilst in an ideal world I’d have a little more separation between the two, I work hard and for the most part, smart. And feel more productive than I have for years. Kudos for the show, I LOVE it!

Elizabeth68 March 18, 2011 at 1:22 am

I work from home for 3 of my part time jobs and i know that i get more completed than from the office desk on some days. working from home doesn’t mean that i am doing the washing, vacuuming and other odd jobs. i am working on the accounts and although i miss having others to chat to i do end up working more hrs as you forget to switch off or think just will complete 1 more section and then sign off. at present working from home works for me with the boys but i do get tired of people saying working from home wink wink. elizabeth

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