Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Work From Home Observations

 I retired a while ago but I liked to work from home when possible in my later work years.  I liked it for the obvious reasons: no commute, I could handle domestic issues like the plumber, and, sorry to say, I could goof off at times.  

Was I as productive as I was at work?  Probably close, given my job and the fact that I was physically at work 95% of the time and WFH was usually for a day or two every few weeks.

Were there downsides?  Yes, my wife considered WFH to be a secondary activity compared to domestic chores like taking out the garbage, walking the dog, etc.  

Other issues?  I worry about a few things if WFH becomes the majority of work time.

  • Loneliness will be an issue for some folks.  There is a social side to work and there is a personal support benefit to being around people.  If you screwed up on a project, are your coworkers going to effectively help and support you via video?
  • Learning on the job is extremely important and we hear that remote learning was not good for children at school, will it be equally bad for new employees or people in new jobs trying to figure out their new role?
  • The WFH fans also seem to ignore a few economic downsides.  If a company is 100% WFH, they don't need workers in the USA, they could just as easily outsource work to low cost countries.  Also, employers will figure out that it is cheaper to hire a WFH person in Arkansas than in Silicon Valley and pay them less.  It will also be easier to fire or lay off a person that you have rarely met and you can let them go on a video call.
  • Career progression will be an issue.  Out of sight means out of mind and promotion criteria will change. In the past, visibility was critical for promotion and the new WFH world may be better, maybe worse.
  • Disruption risks are much higher.  You are completely cut off if the Internet at your home or your computer goes down.  Hacking is also a risk.
But never mind all this, I am just an old retired guy.  The work world will figure this out and I look forward to business media articles about the downside of WFH once the euphoria dies down and the labour market softens.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Observations on Getting Old

 The last year or so was terrible with lots of "growing old" happening.

  • My best friend died after a long illness
  • My older brother had a stroke and died after months in hospital
  • We moved my mother with dementia to a memory-care retirement home
  • We sold our childhood home (mother's home) and had to clean it out
  • I turned 65
It has caused me to reflect on growing old and the differences between life at 30 and life at 65.

When you are 30, all your friends and relatives are alive, healthy, and carrying on normal lives.  You are working hard on your career, family, and many other challenges.  It feels like you are struggling at times, but your health is good, there are lots of new challenges and opportunities, and plenty of new things to learn and do.

When you are 65, your career is over, you have experienced a lot of things, your children are off on their own and busy with their lives, and hopefully you have a secure financial foundation and life situation.  Your health is not as good, your partner's health is not as good, nothing much seems new and interesting, or the new challenges are for the vigorous young.  Some of your fiends and family are gone, some have moved on and you don't hear from them anymore, some have changed, and the people you meet often have their own networks.  Of course the pandemic, war in the Ukraine, and problems in the US have not helped.

I am trying to figure out how to make the golden years "golden".  So far, I have tried reviving hobbies (a little success), traveling (good), making new friends (tough), and volunteering (not fun so far).  I need to make a bigger effort.