Category Archives: Telecommuting

Remote Workers Are Actually More Engaged

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Filed under Rants, Telecommuting

Interesting article by Scott Edinger over on LifeHacker.

He lists several reasons for this apparent contradiction, and I’ve seen first hand examples of the good and bad in my last 12+ years of on and off remote work.

One element Scott doesn’t touch on is how different remote work experiences can be. I’ve found that often, companies want to support remote workers, but, since they’ve never really done so before, they either can’t or won’t make the mindset changes that come with doing so successfully.

For me, the most successful remote work scenario is when all or virtually all the people involved are working remotely. I call it the Sailor Paradigm. When you’re all in the same boat, you’ll all tend to gravitate to the same mindset and look for ways to make the situation work for the best. And when everyone’s remote, everyone realizes quickly that true communication takes a little extra effort.

On the other hand, when only one or a few people are working remote, everyone that’s stayed in the office can fall back on much easier communication; the water cooler chat, talking shop over lunch, etc. The remote workers get left out and that can often lead to troubles down the road.

Personally, I’ve always felt the ideal solution is one where all the employees (or at least everyone on a team) works remote, but close enough to an office space or to each other to get some face time one a week or so. That’s not always possible, but it does represent the best of both worlds.

Citrix Connection Error

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Filed under Telecommuting, Troubleshooting, Utilities

I’m now in full rebuild mode after last weeks unfortunate RAID incident.


After installing Citrix Desktop and setting all my parms back up, I got


“The desktop you are trying to open is currently available only to administrators. Contact your administrator to confirm that the correct settings are in place for your client connection.”


After some digging around, I came across this Citrix posting that was exactly the problem.


I had the Citrix Connection set to “Server”, it needs to be “Published Application”.


Too bad the error message itself didn’t actually mention that. But it’s hard to find too much fault in that.


 

The Father of Telecommuting

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Filed under Telecommuting

I’ve telecommuted for more than 5 years now, half of which was in a management/chief architect role, so anything in the news about telecommuting interests me.

Here is a brief interview with Jack Nilles, who, from all accounts, is the father of telecommuting, having coined the term back in 1973 while working for the ASAF and NASA.

He makes some great observations, among them:

  • “They commute to the office, get on the phone and talk with someone somewhere else. What’s the point?”
  • “Most people are relatively clueless about the human interaction aspects and supervision techniques and so forth required to be good managers”
  • “Branch offices and telecommuting are similar.”

I’ve run into some of these things first hand; “I can’t see you, so I can’t manage you.” That sort of thing.

I once even got a telephone callback by one company that I’d responded to, who was a software vendor, but who’s ad was very vague about the actual kind of software they sold. Once I got on the phone and realized they made, essentially, spyware that would track websites you visit, keystrokes, time spent in particular applications, etc, I closed out the conversation quickly, turned and didn’t look back.

Their idea was that, along with a timesheet, you’d turn in this encrypted report of the log that this application generated. As the employee, you couldn’t alter the log, though you could view it. They argued that such software would encourage employers to support more telecommuting, because it would make the telecommuter’s day transparent, and it would be a “good thing” for telecommuters because it allows them to “prove” they’re doing the work they say they are. Mr. Nilles’s comments, or a good sit-down with Steve Maguire’s “Debugging the Development Process” should be proof enough that such thinking is so utterly wrong it makes the Flat Earth Society look like geniuses.

I’m sure they’ll sell the hell out of that app :-( .

Employees have to be judged by their work, not how long they’re in their seats, or how much time they spend with Visual Studio loaded. Successful development shops (telecommuters or no) understand this.