June 22, 2012

"[F]ace-to-face networking is dying...."

"Live somewhere cheap and invest time in online networking."


edutcher said...

In the same way high-rise office buildings are obsolete.

Chip S. said...

I suppose you could take your career advice from a "irreverent" Forbes columnist best known for the blog Reverse Cowgirl.

Or you might read The Review of Financial Studies.

Hey, it's your career.

Scott said...

(The article is about working from home.)

Face-to-face networking is dying? Sadly, no.

You have to have an employer who is cool with that. Most aren't.

The irony I live every day is that I have to bring my work notebook computer home with me every evening, so that if we get a blizzard or if a bomb hits Jersey City, we can work from home. It's part of the disaster recovery plan. A lot of companies in my industry make their employees do this.

Do I get to work from home? Once in awhile.

Can I make working from home the norm, and coming to the office the exception? No. Not unless I've been there a very long time and am super irreplaceable to the company.

Companies like to keep an eye on their "human" assets, which is their justification for making their warm bodies roost daily at the office building. But it doesn't have to be that way. For example, the Colorado based company Alpine Access is an outsourcer for telephone customer support -- and almost 100% of its agents work from home. They use technology to create virtual team rooms so that workers don't feel isolated. They compete successfully with call centers in countries where employees are paid less.

The technology is there, and the business model is there. But the business comfort level with telecommuting is not.

bagoh20 said...

Detroit, Michigan, Here I Come
Right back where I started from
where bowers of flowers
bloom in the spring
each morning at dawning
birdies sing at everything
a sunkissed miss said, "Don't be late!"
that's why I can hardly wait
open up that rusty gate
Detroit, Michigan, Here I Come

Michael said...

The writer is wrong on every single count. Having said that, I wish everyone would take her advice so that I would be the only one making face to face calls on prospective clients and capital sources.

Office buildings are only obsolete in their floor-plans. Most are configured to have ample space for secretaries and filing cabinets both of which are becoming completely unnecessary. It makes little sense to pay the same per foot amount for the space under a cabinet as under the people bringing in the business.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Re working from home: Working from home can be great or can be isolating. It is up to you and the type of work you do

I worked from home for about 6 months when I was inbetween working as a broker in an office and setting up my own financial advisory office as an independent. The thing that was most important for me was to have a completely separate location for my 'work space'. An office that was not a part of the home where I could be completely divorced from home activities. Also important was to have set hours in which I would be doing business, just like in an office, and STICK to that schedule.

It was too easy to feel that I should be doing house type things that then would distract me from my business and felt that I should be doing business things when I was doing house 'work'. In other words I was surrounded by work everywhere and conflicted all the time and nothing got done efficiently until I was strict with myself.

Most of my business face to face interactions were with clients and not with co-workers, since I had none. Other business interactions and training sessions were on the net (Go to Meeting) or conference calls.

bagoh20 said...

We have people that work from home when it's needed, but it's rare. It would be a great thing for business, if it worked. No need to pay for expensive office space and infrastructure that is basically redundant, since the person already has a roof over their head, with electricity and a phone and computer at home.

The problem is not the technology or unfounded corporate resistance - it's that people are not trustworthy.

I would never expect someone working from home to put in the same amount of work per day. It's possible, but with kids, pets, TV, visitors, home chores, the refrigerator, vodka, and nobody watching; it's just asking too much. Nobody is that honest.

If the work can be measured, then I don't care what else they do as long as they can get it done.

Most jobs, especially in manufacturing, can't be done like this. You need to see things, touch them, and watch things happen.

I would love to be able to do it with as many people as possible. The cost savings would allow them to be paid better, and the company to grow more easily.

bagoh20 said...

I can do my job from home, since it mostly involves commenting at Althouse.

See boss, I'm hard at work for ya.

Curious George said...

I work from home and love it. 15' commute. Work in my sweats or shorts. No distractions from co-workers. May not work for everyone but for me it allows much more productivity, and I tend to work longer. I'm at my desk at 6AM and start getting ready for the day while having coffee. Day end at 6Pm or so but if I have more work to do I can fit it in without staying late, lugging a laptop home, or dealing with logging into a network remotely. All my IT tools are consistent.

I'm part owner, and sell a revenue recovery service to hospitals nationally. All "face to face" are gotomeeting.

Jason said...

As a freelance writer, I've never met most of my clients... and I've never spoken on the phone or Skyped with some of them.

I've also worked in the financial services industry, where I was a big believer in the "in-person" visit, and good-old-fashioned shoe leather prospecting. Different approaches work well.

As an insurance agent, my market was local. As a writer, my market is global, and I have clients in Israel and Australia, and my writing is being translated into different languages.

I don't feel the need to do much face-to-face networking doing what I'm doing now - which is the same as what Susannah Breslin does, though in different niches.

I wouldn't suggest that approach works more generally, though.

ed said...

I work in IT and I've done a lot of work in offices and with virtual development teams. I've worked with people that I have never actually seen even a picture so I have no idea what they look like.

Honestly the worst part of telecommuting: easy access to the refrigerator.

Otherwise if you have a set of daily deliverables or tasks and you complete them each day, who cares?

Scott said...

"The problem is not the technology or unfounded corporate resistance - it's that people are not trustworthy."

That's the oft-repeated canard.

But Alpine Access, mentioned earlier, has built a successful business with more than $30 million in annual revenue with many hundreds of people working from home. And they do a lot of complex customer phone support, where the quality of service and productivity matters, and is measured.

"I can't trust my employees" is the easy answer. And it will be the status quo until, like the Detroit auto industry in the 1970s, the competition comes along and starts eating your lunch.

Chip S. said...

Going way out on a limb here, but I'll suggest that maybe--just maybe--there's not as much usefulness in face-to-face networking among people doing telephone customer support as there is in some other fields.

Fields that involve collaboration among the employees, for example.

Shanna said...

Also important was to have set hours in which I would be doing business, just like in an office, and STICK to that schedule.

I went to a talk given by Charlaine Harris a few years ago and this was her advice to writers. Have an 'office', go there for set hours, etc..pretend you've gone to work.

bagoh20 said...

"the competition comes along and starts eating your lunch."

I've seen that go both ways. I've seen companies, even my own lose business by becoming too virtual. The cost savings can be substantial, but you need to get and keep business before there is anything to save.

We have lost accounts before simply because we didn't show up in person as much as the competition. No problem with product or pricing, but a buyer has a much harder time saying "no" to someone he needs to say it to in person.

You also end up with extra middle men in the flow of information - people who don't know anything, and just function as a go between slowing it down and often confusing it. My customers want to talk directly to the engineering guy who is in the plant working to solve his problem. That direct link could save many days on a project.

It really depends on the work being done, and the market.

I intend to try hard in the future to do more of this, because I believe in it. I would love my employees that have children to be able to stay home with them and make their own hours and even earn more simply by figuring this out.

Rabel said...

bagoh20 said:

"I would never expect someone working from home to put in the same amount of work per day. It's possible, but with kids, pets, TV, visitors, home chores, the refrigerator, vodka, and nobody watching; it's just asking too much. Nobody is that honest."

Effin A Bagoh. I might go with "almost" nobody, but yeah.

And if you can "get your job done" in less than a full day, your boss is failing and needs to give you more to do.

Scott M said...

Face to face networking is dying...

Says someone not in sales...

Jason said...

Sales is all about face to face contact. It's what I miss most about my life before being a freelance writer full time.

But it's a lot better than how things were before WiFi. I was a total hermit then!

Now I work in cafes all the time around town, and have friends and acquaintances around. But if they want to get too social when I'm working, I go find somewhere else to work.