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Working From Home Bad For You? May 2, 2008

Posted by gordonwatts in physics life, university.
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Or at least your career?

I stumbled on this article while trolling the net. It is a bit sensationalist, but the message is that people who work from home always don’t advance as quickly as people who come into the office.

This is relevant to me and experimental particle physics because we are a truley global “company” – with small groups littered around the world. Most groups are probably less than 20 people in size – many are less than 10. We are effectively all telecommuting on this large LHC experiment. Many of us, including myself, have always thought that we need to maintain a presence at CERN (this is based on my experience at Fermilab).

Clearly not everyone can live there full time. I have to teach back in Seattle, for example. I use the standard tools to keep in touch: video conferencing, instant messaging, email, Skype, etc. I’ve never felt it was as effective as being there, however. Indeed, this is one of the reasons behind the sabbatical – go somewhere else, learn something new, and bring it back to the university – thereby enriching the local research program. Besides, who wouldn’t want to go to a lab where the world’s experts all congregate to work on a particular set of problems? What better place to learn and to push research forward?!

I have no idea how much these two are connected – telecommuters not being as successful and remote HEP research — but I suspect there are parallels.

By the way – I find it very hard to interpret the cause and effect relationship in cases like this — there is so much sociology involved. For example, the boss doesn’t see you so doesn’t think you are getting as much work done – which may or may not be true. Or perhaps people who work from home tend in the first place not to be as ambitious as those that don’t (I have no idea). I know that I like coming into the office – being able to walk down the hall and ask questions makes me feel, if not be, must more effective. Not sure how the others that I’m asking the question feel!

Note: Written while waiting for ATLAS code to compile. Yawn!!

Comments»

1. workhome - May 5, 2008

Most of the people that are looking for work at home web pages couldn’t even spot a work at home scam. This is most like due to the fact that they really want to work from home and the claims of some scams make them think it’s real.


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