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On Being Indispensible and Pros & Cons of the Virtual Office

So I was talking with someone yesterday about how women (especially pretty ones) still are required to be indispensible (subservient?) to men. So my friend told me she was called into one of the male executives' office the other day and told that it was "annoying" to him that her office was logistically too far away from him when he needed or wanted her, so he asked her to rearrange herself by switching offices to be closer to him because he's tired of walking down the hall.

I mean, how can a woman sit there with a straight face? The "down the hall" difference in location is about 50 feet.

She's been in her business for a dozen years and is an executive... MBA... you get the picture. When she was early in her career, she was once told to "be sure to walk past my office door and use the the side exit when you leave the building so I can see where you are..." WHAT? I mean, maybe THAT guy was sincere and wanted to know where his people are... or did he just want to check out her ass daily? Or, better yet, maybe a cow bell around her neck would be a better option so he never loses track of her?

And so this female (whose identity shall remain anonymous because she's a VIP in business) was telling me, along those lines, that just this week a colleague of hers up north wanted her to fly up so they could have a meeting to discuss a new form and how to complete it for their negotiations work. My friend said she told the dude that it'd take all of 20 minutes to understand the new form and requirements and it was no task that couldn't be accomplished by phone.

With the advent of the email, webcam, gotomeeting, Skype... business can be conducted in real time WITHOUT the need of ever having to step foot on a plane, spending hundreds of dollars in travel and hotel for co-workers to see one another. Travel should be reserved for the necessary rapport building in new accounts, for training/conferences.... not the little two-bit meetings that are considered business-as-usual. And geeze, men often forget that women (i.e. my friend) have small children in day care... a short overnight trip can wreak havoc in the lives of a family, especially if a woman were a single mother.

It's becoming (er... it already "is") a 24/7 business world and for many (myself included), there is the work-at-home option, which truly is a productive thing. I know that for me, I accomplish volumes more of work by staying put and avoiding 2 or more hours of car-travel... Working a flex schedule produces my personal best outcomes (I like to write and think late at night)... But sometimes... traditionalists get fearful that their employee is slacking. I say that there's a point in employer/employee relationship, however, which that notion need not be tested any longer if the work speaks for itself.

I have found a certain resentment by companies who profess to be flexible with their employee schedules and a little bit of checking to make sure the work-from-home executive isn't having too much fun. Again... work should be judged on its own merit and be paid for based on the service provided.

I know that for my marketing director job in which I work mostly from home... they get MORE from me because of the flexible schedule than if I punched a clock. For example, I was up past 2 AM last night working on a creative newsletter.

I was at Sam's Club yesterday--grocery shopping--and I saw against one wall the display for sale of time clocks... them old fashioned machines in which employees punched a card upon arrival, punched again when they take a break and return, and when they leave each day. The employee is docked if he or she is late beyond a certain number of minutes. I only had one job in my life I had to do that, and I remember how it sucked if I "forgot" to punch in or out and had to explain that. Sometimes.... even today without the time-clock, a boss can make one feel they are still on such a system like the time punch card, that it is necessary to provide ocular proof of attendance and being on task. I s'ppose, the adage is still in the back of the boss's mind that when the cat's away the mouse will play.

Indeed, it is important to be accountable and to demonstrate commitment to a job not only through appearance (for example, I keep a suit jacket nearby and throw it on over my tank top or pajamas when I get a webcam phone call from the office--heh), but also by keeping close contact and expressing sincerity of being present in one's job. It is also good to always have a trail of paper that shows work done, such as keeping task lists and progress reports and submitting them to the boss to "keep him close" so that work is never questionable.

The virtual office is here to stay. There is great opportunity for employer/employee to demonstrate good results. Yet there also remains the issues of human nature... distrust by employer, the potential for employee goofing off... but I do believe, at some level of professionalism and after years and years of a record of good work, some of these things need to STOP being questioned, allowing the work to speak for itself.

Just my humble opinion.


Roger D. Curry said...

Dearest Doreen -

I am SHOCKED by your shallow appreciation of a man's need in an office setting.

A woman produces pheromones, complex chemicals which provide encouragement and pleasure to men. Duh, wires transmit INFORMATION not chemicals. Moreover, the average woman weighs less than the average man (and, on average, is in better aerobic condition), so it makes both energy conservation sense and ergonomic sense that the woman be more geographically available.

Jesus, the next damn thing women will want is to be paid the same as men and not to have their boobs stared at in the work place.


aliasmoi said...

And geeze, men often forget that women (i.e. my friend) have small children in day care... a short overnight trip can wreak havoc in the lives of a family, especially if a woman were a single mother.>>>>>

Don't kid yourself. They do not forget. It's deliberate discrimination. Around here many of the better employers REQUIRE their employees to work swing shift. How's a single woman with small kids supposed to do that? She can't, and they know it. Therefore she is trapped in dead-end low paying jobs perpetuating to cycle of poverty. Up at the higher end of the food chain, they keep the glass ceiling nicely in place by saying, "If you can't work 90 hours per week, fly to the otherside of the country for some meeting at the drop of the hat - then you can't advance into such and such position..."

Roger, I had on a t-shirt that said, "Stop looking at my shirt," in the gym yesterday. I knicked it from Spawn. Anyway, one of the guys told me, "It's not your shirt people are looking at. :-p

Jilly said...

there was an article in the washington post a few weeks abgo about how working from home is starting to be phazed off as the economy tanks. people are afraid that working from home will be seen as lazy or expendible by employers and are switching off. i love the government schedule of 4 10 hour days a week (and you can start at 6am) and often wish i could work that shift. you could go in as early as 6 or as late as 8 or 9am, as long as you get your 10 in, what a dream.


doreenmary said...

Jilly... to me, a dream job is being a stay at home mom (without kids).

Harmon said...

A virtual office is an excellent alternative which can save up to 78% of the cost of traditional office services. I am also running a small business using this facility by valleyhq I am very satisfied and feel like I am able to increase my business now.


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