IT'S ABOUT THE DOUGHNUTS
As I see it, after working for the same company for more than a decade, those who obtain their employment through LIFT will assuredly be faced with two related work problems: work at home; and "the doughnut thing."
I started to work at the same company at the same time with two other LIFT trainees. Our initial contacts with management and fellow employees alike seemed to evoke their deepest concern: "How will these people eat (if, indeed they do at all) their doughnuts?" With the specialized training and working at home and all, will they be ingesting their Minimum Daily Doughnut Requirement (MDDR)? Although the company we were to work for is notoriously liberal, I can still remember our initial (gang) job interview. The interviewers were more nervous than we were - the amount of doughnuts gave that away.
Almost immediately after being hired I noticed that many of my fellow employees were a bit jealous over the fact that I could work at home possibly because they believed in their heart-of-hearts that I could eat doughnuts ANY DARNED TIME I FELT LIKE IT. I, in turn, harbored a certain envy over what seemed to be their never-ending consumption of all things pastry.
I am fortunate in that I need only go to "the office" once a week. My fellow workers, creatures of habit that they are, seem to become unusually disoriented if I should show up on the "wrong" day of the week. I can only attribute this to the "cruller calendar" Monday is raspberry jelly; Tuesday is sugar glaze, etc. Apparently, it just doesn't seem socially proper to them to be downing an unscheduled doughnut during the occasion of my appearance.
One main advantage of working at home is that I am not ordinarily required to attend staff meetings unless they are REALLY important (i.e. seldom). Yet, I noticed some time back that important meetings are ALWAYS accompanied by (it begins to get scary here) DOUGHNUTS. There must be some kind of unifying social factor involved .I can remember sales pep-rallies years ago when I worked (for a week) for a door-to-door vacuum cleaner company there were lots of doughnuts there. Perhaps the more desperate things are, the more dunkers are required .
However, not ALL managerial types seem to buy into this ethic. Lift requires its telecommuters to visit the site at least once a week (to avoid the out-of-sight, out-of-mind syndrome that many supervisors still aren't immune to). At one point, because of a change in my responsibilities, my project director thought I should start spending two days a week at the office. However, after a month of spending the extra day on site chatting (and of course, eating you know what), I was told to go home and work for a living. There just aren't enough risk-takers in management these days. Few will chuck pastry for productivity.
More and more companies ARE falling into "telecommuting" (i.e. you scone alone). Yet few realize that not only are they reducing air pollution but also reducing the environmental waste of plasticized doughnut bags and saving the trees used to produce doughnut boxes. Corporate accountants will tell you that the UP-side of all this homework is a decrease in keyboard expenses owing to powdered-sugar and Boston-crème damage, but they are hard-pressed to explain the increase in work-per-doughnut units.
There is a possibility that the whole phenomenon is actually centered around COFFEE. However, that's a subject for a future article, one in which Lift may be willing to reveal a few of the more carefully hidden secrets behind the superior productivity of telecommuters or then again, maybe they won't
Barry does his munching for Educational Testing Services in Princeton, New Jersey. He graduated from the Lift program in 1986.