After two years of working from home full time, I was eager to get back into the office. According to Bloomberg, early corporate adopters of telecommuting are changing their minds about the practice too and perhaps going too far:
One point BBG raises is that companies organize work and themselves differently now; that’s particularly true for software development. For major multinational companies, there are competing pressures: Methodologies like agile benefit from co-located teams, but those teams can span a dozen timezones. The latter is compounded when the majority of the team is in one place and the rest are scattered haphazardly around the globe. It’s all the isolation without any of the benefits if those workers are forced into the office too. I wonder how IBM is addressing those competing pressures?
For me, the sweet spot is 2-3 days a week either way. On my current project, an aforementioned multinational globe-spanning project, I’ve also been half-day telecommuting. I get early-morning teleconferences with far-East team members without an even-earlier-morning wake-up call (yuck) or wasting my time in rush-hour traffic (double yuck). Lunch is either at home, in the city, or in the burbs. Then I finish out the day in the burbs and can spend the evening visiting sub-urban friends or indulging my fetish for things you put other things into. While I still like full days at home or the office, this has been a useful compromise.
I don’t think I’d ever take a job that requires 100% office attendance again. My previous rule of thumb was not spending more than 5 hours per work week commuting: that’s time I can’t control and don’t get paid for, and that’s not good business. There may be exceptions to the rule, and I see a few outside my window. I’ve lived and worked in San Francisco and New York, but not in Philly and not for lack of trying. Maybe that will change when Minas Morgul opens. Pretty, pretty, pretty nice. Are the Nazgul still on back order?
The suit is the “price of admission”, what interviewers charge to make sure you’re not wasting their time. You spent money to buy the suit. You ironed a shirt or had it laundered. You remembered or relearned how to tie a tie. You look “professional”. It’s a hazing ritual: they did it, and now they make you do it. It signals conformity, and they only notice if you’re not wearing it.
The conventional business plan is the “price of admission”, what investors charge to make sure you’re not wasting their time. You spent time generating dozens of pages of text, tables, and charts. You scoured the Internet for the right fonts and clip art. You remembered or relearned the anatomy of a business plan. Your business looks “professional”. It’s a hazing ritual: they did it, and now they make you do it. It signals conformity, and they only notice if you don’t have it.
The’re also alike because neither tell you anything about what is really inside.
As I pack for three months in Little Rock, I’m troubled by a new wave of anti-LGBT activity in the South. North Carolina and Alabama have passed anti-equality laws; Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, just vetoed something similar in his state. The South’s latest attempts to turn back the clock on equality are thankfully galvanizing a growing resistance; I thank Governor Deal and so does Marc Benioff, CEO of SaleForce, with this video:
When I was a teen in the throes of “figuring things out”, I happened upon a program about Harvey Milk on late night TV. It was confusing and exciting and startling. I watched it with the volume way down low, jumping to change channels if I heard the slightest noise. There were places in the world where I could openly be me? That was one of the most profound moments of my life. It would be years before college took me to Philadelphia where I found my haven city and a few familiar faces at the gay bars. Despite how it felt at the time, I wasn’t the only gay teenager in Pottsville. I also wasn’t the only one to find refuge and opportunity in the city of Brotherly Love despite Pennsylvania generally offering neither.
Back then I had another lifeline to a more accepting world, Channel 33 on CompuServe’s CB simulator. This pre-Internet chat technology let me talk to gay people across the country. Not only did I know there were other gay people outside of Pottsville, but I could talk to them anytime from the privacy of my room on my TRS-80 Model III. It wasn’t an easy road to coming out all the way, but technology certainly helped and has forever been inextricably linked with finding myself.
That’s why I take great pride in seeing technology companies like Salesforce and Apple stand against what’s going on. North Carolina’s discovering they cannot act without consequences from both the public and private sectors. It’s no surprise technology companies have become such strong advocates: many of us retreated from a hateful real world into the growing, more accepting virtual one. Now that virtual world is reaching back into the real one to say, “No.” It’s socially unacceptable and it’s bad for the bottom line.
And so yesterday NBC reported that the Arkansas Attorney General is attempting to block LGBT protection in places including Little Rock–where I’ll be working for three months as a part of the HubX Life Sciences Accelerator. So my feelings are mixed as I get ready to head South and potentially travel back into a past I was happy to leave there. As states, Arkansas and Pennsylvania are strikingly similar (and bad on) gay rights, but I live in Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. Things are different here. I love the home I’ve made. It’s not clear if Little Rock is or will remain different from “greater” Arkansas for much longer. Let’s see what we can do about that.
Last weekend I gave in to my desire to keep software fresh and upgraded to Windows 10. The upgrade wasn’t smooth. I expected multiple restarts and lots of twiddling and driver updates, but the last straw was being unable to fix a problem where my mouse stopped working after waking the computer from sleep. So I uninstalled Windows 10, which was easier than the install, and then recovered a few things that didn’t get put back, like some NVIDIA dlls. It wasn’t a great experience, but I got back to working. I wasn’t completely incensed.
It did squander some of the good will I’ve been feeling for a post-Ballmer Microsoft. The recent, nagging changes to the “Free Upgrade” notification [ Microsoft Makes Windows 10 ‘Free Upgrades’ Worse | Forbes ] haven’t helped either. Now that I’ve gotten my Win7 box back to normal, the nagging is back at full tilt. News flash: If I uninstalled the update and gave markedly negative feedback after the install and during the uninstall,No, I do NOT want to upgrade to Windows 10 AGAIN, and please stop asking me!
Googling around for how to stop the nagging doesn’t yield a clear solution. Some involve installing software written just to stop the nagging: it’s probably perfectly fine and safe software, but I just don’t like that idea. So what I’m going to try, since I need my Win7 box for work again, is Method 1 from a Microsoft support engineer responding on answers.microsoft.com. If Microsoft had toned it down after the uninstall (or never escalated the nagging to current levels), I’d be more likely to try upgrading again later. A gentle reminder every few weeks, once issues like mine are addressed, would have felt helpful. Now I just want it to go away permanently, and that’s not good for me or for Microsoft.
Visiting amiga30.com confronted me with a question: “Remember when computing was fun?” Yes. I do. Painfully so.
In 1996, I bought myself an Amiga 1000 for my birthday. In 1993, I was part of the 75% staff reduction that basically ended Commodore as a viable company. It also ended the frontier years of personal computing.
Days like today, the 30th anniversary of the Amiga 1000 launch, still fill me with a deep sense of loss and longing for those amazing, complicated, turbulent years. I can’t capture its essence in a few pithy paragraphs, so it’s time to stop trying. I’m going to click ‘Publish’, pour myself something strong, and raise a glass to those glorious times and special people.