in reply to (OT): Human Multi-tasking

I have a few thoughts on this. 5-7 years ago, the telecommuting idea looked like a good way to realize this. Today, I think an employer is more likely to hire cheap overseas telecommuting labor over someone who wants to live out his dream in a country farm house. At least here in the U.S. That's just the economics of the thing. Of all the telecommuters I know, only a few are left. Some kind of got stranded by moving too far out. If the company you telecommute for goes under or cuts your job you may be hard pressed to find something if you've moved too far out.

A few of my relatives have kind of "dropped out" to varying degrees. One moved to a remote area and has a farm in addition to a regular job. Another one grows a lot of his own food, built his own house, and doesn't have a regular full time job. Some of them tire of this though. Getting up at 5am to feed the chickens may seem glamourous at first, but that glamour can wear off after a while. Or having the car break down and having to make do and take the time to fix it yourself when it's 10 degrees out might make a bigger paycheck look better than it did when you traded it in for the dream.

My first house was old and somewhat remote, and therefore cheap. But after 10 years of commuting an hour or so each way it got pretty old. I did manage to telecommute 2-3 days a week part of that time. But I eventually moved closer to things and it's been so much better. One thing you have to consider is that if it's more time you're after, you may end up just trading time, doing other things out of necessity (such as commuting or growing food) that take as much or even more time out of your day.

My new goal would be to cash in enough stock at my current job to pay off my house and not have to worry so much about how much I make. The writing's on the wall anyway. I'm in my forties and it seems likely I'll be traded in for a cheaper model, particularly since the overseas moves have started at my current job in a small way. Being able to move closer was actually that sort of dream realized in a much smaller way: I was at a job a short time that paid me both in stock and in cash as incentive for staying through a sale. That lump sum, while relatively small, made a huge difference in what we could shop for in terms of a new house. So one advantage I see of having a regular job is getting the opportunity to cash in like this, at least in small ways. But I would say that there's always that appeal of doing something that's all my own. I think that would be even more appealing if it were something the whole family could get involved in. But my caution there is also experience. I had another relative start two businesses and get out of each one due to all the hours and the small amount of payback.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re^2: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by stvn (Monsignor) on Dec 30, 2004 at 17:35 UTC
    Today, I think an employer is more likely to hire cheap overseas telecommuting labor over someone who wants to live out his dream in a country farm house.

    To start with, you need to remember that telecommuting (if done properly) is both a cost cutting and a productivity boosting move for some companies. A friend of mine works for a medium-to-large insurance company, and he told me about a recent experiment they did where they allowed about a hundred employees to work 2-3 days from home. They found that not only did it save them on infastructure costs (electricity, etc), but that the employees productivity was boosted (no water cooler is my guess). The overall outcome of the experiment was that it was a good thing all around for them, and last I heard they were going to implement it on a larger scale.

    As for cheap overseas help, it is a cost cutting measure for some companies, but many companies still can't get their acts together enough to be able to do that. It takes a level of discipline which most companies just do not have, and lets not forget about the language barrier and time-zine differences. Those facotrs alone are why small, agile consultancies (like the one I work for) are only minimally affected by this trend (so far).

    Another point to make about "cost cutting measures" in general is that they are not always the whats best for the company. We have done work for some large NYC companies and there is a trend in the younger managers to squeeze us for all they can, and then we hear them at the next budget cycle that their budgets have been cut (wonder why?). However the older, more experienced, managers tend to give us what we ask for (within reason of course) and not try to squeeze us, they never complain about budgets (well, sometimes, but not as bad as the squeezers do). The fact is that if you "save" money and have $$ left over in your budget at the end of the year, then many times, your budget gets cut to that level (cause clearly you can do what you do for less). Where if you don't try and do everything on-the-cheap, pay people what they are worth and be sure to use up every last cent. Then 9 times out of 10 you not only do you (usually) get the same $$ the next budget cycle, but you also have a better quality product (cause you didn't try and bleed your contractors dry).

    Of course this particular phenomenon tends to be found more in larger companies. But even in smaller companies, taking the long-term view is a good thing, and being short-sighted eventually gets you in trouble.

    Anyway, thats just my two cents :)