A funny thing occurs when I work from home, as I do one or two days a week. My co-workers mostly don't even notice -- with the exception of those who sit near me and probably welcome the relief from the stream-of-consciousness dialogue I tend to have with my PC.
I usually get at least a couple of instant messages along the lines of "Are you here today?" from my compadres at the office. IM tends to be our primary channel of communication, whether or not I am on-site. Based on the rapid growth of IM in the enterprise, I am obviously not alone.
Thanks to our reliable VPN, sitting in front of my PC at home is pretty much like doing so at the office -- with the addition of a clingy Labrador retriever at my feet. It allows me to work flexible hours, putting in time before or after "standard" work hours so I can attend a play at my son's school, for example.
I consider this ability a major bonus. So do plenty of IT workers, judging from the results of a recent survey by online recruiter TheITJobBoard.com.
As reported on silicon.com, half of respondents said flexible work would improve their work/life balance, while one in eight reported it would make them more productive. Twenty-five percent of them said they had turned down a job offer because it lacked a flexible work option.
Forty-six percent of respondents said their current employer allows them to work flexible hours. Of the remaining 54 percent, however, 72 percent said they had never been offered the choice -- even though their job would be appropriate for flexible work. Nearly half of them felt their employers would not consider a request for flexible schedules.
I wonder if this isn't a case of folks making assumptions about their employers. Perhaps making a convincing case for flexible work would be a good opportunity for geeks to show that they have some of those communications skills that employers say are increasingly important.
Can't hurt to ask, right? Ten percent of TheITJobBoard.com survey respondents said it would, by getting them branded as a troublemaker.
You'd think that more employers would be open to the idea, considering the IT talent shortage that some observers say could create a crisis of Y2K-like proportions.