Telecommuting (was Re: Looking for Python programmers--where to search?)

gbp gpepice1 at
Fri Sep 29 05:12:27 CEST 2000

I'm coming off a job where I think it would have went better if i DIDN'T
live in the area.  

These people knew nothing about programming and despite me insisting
never wrote any of their requirements down.  

Needless to say everyone in the unit had a different idea of what the
programs should do....

Mats Wichmann wrote:
> On 23 Aug 2000 15:36:06 GMT, aahz at (Aahz Maruch) wrote:
> >In article <39a3d9cb.4496054 at>,
> >Mats Wichmann <xyzmats at> wrote:
> >>
> >>(Hint to employers:  there are lots of competent folks who are willing
> >>to help on projects - part-time or full-time, consulting or permanent,
> >>who don't understand why that should mean being tied to the SF Bay
> >>Area... think: telecommuting.  I've done it productively for years.
> >>If you bend a little on location your lives will get a whole lot
> >>easier trying to fill those difficult spots!  The Bay Area has priced
> >>itself out of being a place most people can live).
> >
> >I dunno.  It depends what kind of work you're doing, IMO.  If it's
> >something reasonably "standard", then what you're talking about makes
> >sense.  OTOH, I've certainly seen telecommuting fail miserably; while
> >it's not clear that the telecommuting was the problem, I do think that
> >telecommuting makes it easier to hide problems.  In addition, I think
> >there's no substitute for face-to-face brainstorming.
> I can certainly agree that it doesn't always work, and some of that
> does depend on the kind of work... I wouldn't consider sysadmin work,
> say, as a great candidate for telecommuting from a distance (I'm not
> talking about "living in the area but doing some work from home" when
> I use the term here). When the pager goes off and you're 1,000 miles
> away you've got a big problem!
> Organizational skills will overcome most of the problems.  You need to
> physically meet at reasonable intervals, in my experience.  Sometimes
> a crush might call for being on-site for a while - I've certainly done
> that; for example a week or two-week long testing pushes.
> But email and reasonably designed collaboration tools (I don't
> necessarily mean complex commercial tools: mailing lists, web pages
> and a network-accessible bugtracking and source code control system -
> stuff which most companies need to have in place for internal use
> anyway) will do the trick for development work.  I've found plenty of
> examples where folks within the same company use email /far/ more than
> face-to-face situations for actual problem-solving; the face-to-face
> time gets spent on chat. It's easy to tell when email isn't working,
> then you just reach for the phone.
> What I find somewhat frustrating is that a lot of companies come in
> with the mindset that they can't "build a team" without putting them
> in adjacent cubicles, and won't budge off of that.  It just plain
> isn't true; I've been part of a wonderful team that was spread all
> over the world.  Some subset of us did meet nearly monthly in various
> suitable locations, but I think the continuing advancement of the
> large number of collaborative internet-based developments going on
> around us shows even that often isn't strictly necessary. Granted, we
> can't go out together and play softball and drink beer :-( but I think
> that sort of thing is somewhat overrated as to being essential to a
> professional, productive work environment.
> I agree with the poster who didn't put much faith in the
> teleconferencing systems, by the way.  I've gotten no real productive
> work out of them either.  They don't even work well in a corporate
> campus environment with a pretty solid backbone net (I'm sure there
> are places that make it work, before someone stands up to dispute).
> Sorry, I got sucked into drifiting far off Python topics... so I'll
> shaddup now.
> Mats Wichmann
> (Anti-spam stuff: to reply remove the "xyz" from the
> address xyzmats at Not that it helps much...)

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