Friday, October 3, 2008

How can I be too busy to go to work?

It sounds strange, but I realized this morning that I am actually too busy with my job to go to work. Like many analysts, I work primarily from home. Combined with the time I spend traveling, I rarely get the chance to go into my "official" office. I think that the last time I was in the Amsterdam building was in April.

This month I don't have too much travel, so I was planning on going in this week to see my colleagues, check my mail box, and use the copier. My best intentions didn't pan out though -- I've been too busy, with too many overdue deliverables to get done. I can't afford the time it takes to get on the tram/metro and make my way out to the office, or even to take the car. I know when I get there, I will have less time available to produce the stuff I have to get done. One of the reasons for going in is to to talk to people, a good thing to do, but it takes time away from other work.

It seems odd to say that I am too busy to go to the office. Isn't that what offices are for? A place to do work? Not so much anymore, at least in my case. Increasingly I've seen the same thing with the clients I talk with. An office is a place to coordinate, socialize, and make connections. But as we increasingly adopt digital ways of getting things done, I can coordinate, socialize and make connections from anywhere. I can turn off email to get things done, and open up to email, IM, Twitter and RSS feeds when I'm looking for external input.

There still is a place for face to face meetings, but it won't necessarily have to be in the office. I meet colleagues at events, on audio conferences, and at client sites. In fact, I expect that the office will increasingly start to look like The Office. Depending on face to face, location-based management leads to abuses and inefficiencies. Showing up early and leaving late shouldn't be the key to success as much as actually getting things done.

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