Steve’s Work From Home Findings: Those Who Can’t WFH Deserve More

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

So I’d like to sit down and discuss what I’ve learned about Work From Home over the last few months. I am of the firm belief that more people can work from home, should work from home, and there are great benefits. I think we need to shift our businesses to more work from home. But this brings up my first finding: those who can’t Work From Home deserve a lot more.


This isn’t just about people in essential jobs deserve to be paid more. This isn’t just about these jobs require a lot of skills. This is that those in these hands-on, be-on-premises jobs, deserve more PERIOD.

They deserve to be paid more – and most of us are pretty underpaid as is. This is pretty much a given. But let’s look at what essential people face;

  • They have to travel to a job, disrupting their life and schedule.
  • They have to deal with all the problems of being tied to a location, which as we’ve seen has challenges.
  • Work tied to a location often has inconvenient schedules, where many of us get standard weekday work.

And consider what many “on-site people” have to do. These are skilled jobs:

  • They have to deal with people person-to-person. If you have ever seen a cashier, stocker, etc. deal with an irate or curious or lost customer, that is serious knowledge and emotional labor being deployed.
  • They have to deal with physical infrastructure: traveling in an area, dealing with physical inventory, installing computer components, etc. There is physical, mental, and skilled labor here.
  • Dealing with physical infrastructure often has risks: chemicals, heavy equipment, disease exposure, etc. Doing that right, being safe requires work – and compensation.

These people deserve more money and of course proper benefits. But they also deserve more.

They deserve respect. We’ve just found that those who can’t work from home are people we often depend on, and they deserve to be respected. They do not deserve to be abused by angry customers, or people that won’t observe health advice, and so on.

They deserve a career. We need so many people who can’t WFH and they deserve to have a life, with a career. Not just because they do work, but they’re DAMN GOOD at what they do, so let’s make sure they have a path. Some do have a career, of course.

They deserve support. Medical care on site. Health services. Meal services. Anything that helps them do their jobs dealing with US the annoying public.

This applies to people from store stockers and baristas to doctors and nurses. We rely on these people to be intimately involved in our lives and help us out. They deserve a lot more.

And if this makes you realize your doctor and the barista who has your coffee are similar, good. Because that doctor who deals with your hypochondria and that barista who remembers your order and gives you a kind word, are both supporting you. Keep that in mind.

Now, my future writing is going mostly go to us who can work from home. But keep in mind those that can’t deserve MORE.

Steven Savage

The Benefits Of Work From Home

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

With COVID-19 being an obvious issue at the news, there’s stories of campuses, businesses, etc. doing work from home, study from home, etc. This has made me think more about working from home, and I wanted to share some insight.

This has long been a part of my life – I was doing telecommuting experimentally back in 2005. Over the years I’ve seen more and more telecommuting, and the latest health crisis has made people much more interested in it.

I’d say it’s about time. Of course I live in the Bay Area which is dense, has lousy traffic, and in my experience people love to infect each other. However the latter may be due to bitter past experiences – OK it is. I’ve heard “I/my kids were sick but I/they aren’t infectious,” and then two days later I’m curled up in bed because my body is a virus theme park.

So as we find working from home (WFH) may become very vital let’s talk about the positive sides. Let’s talk the benefits so you can pitch it!

Benefit One: Realizing we can do it.

Note how I just ran to discuss why WFH is good? That’s because the tools are already there and have been for years. So first of all realize this isn’t “how can we do it,” the how is there. Trust me.

Benefit Two: Disease Mitigation

Let’s get to the obvious at this time – when more people work from home they make each other less sick. If anything, I think near-mandatory or increased WFH during disease seasons would make people’s lives much easier.

But also there’s another benefit in that people have more time to work out, exercise, etc. Healthy meals can be there in the kitchen. It’s just good in many ways.

Plus, again, disease mitigation. I mean you may get sick, but you’re not spreading it

Benefit Three: Less Traffic

Again, I’m biased because I’m in the Bay Area. It may not be as bad as people think, but once when I was moving there I was in a hotel, reading about the slowest intersection at the time, and realized it was outside my window. That was memorable.

If we get less people commuting, we get less traffic. Any geographic area could probably engineer a decrease significant enough to make WFH pay off in better commutes.

This means more time, more sanity, and less stress. Plus, it may mean less crowding on public transit which means an easier time and less disease.

(BTW, I’m for free public transport as well to really benefit a community).

Benefit Four: More Time

Obviously WFH means people have more time. But I find it’s more than you think – this goes back to my old experiences in fact.

  • Working from home usually means more is at your fingertips and you spend less time walking around, going to the cafe, or trying to find the bathroom in a giant office (been there). Your house is a time-saver.
  • Working from home reduces your routines. Check your email while you eat breakfast. Start dinner and then go back to finishing a report. Shower while numbers crunch.
  • It’s easier to timeshift as you’re near important things like your doctor or a store. You can also be there for deliveries.
  • Working from home obviously saves you commute time. I saved that for last.

Benefit Five: Better Techniques

Working from home will require you to rethink things like how you do work, how you schedule meetings and so on.

Take it from the Agile Program Guy, a lot of our plans, meeting, techniques are just there. We don’t question them. We do this “because.” Work from home is a good shake up because it asks you to do whats important in better ways.

It also asks you just what is important. Trust me, there’s probably more pointless stuff than you realize (or you don’t want to admit it).

Benefit Six: Appreciate those who can’t

If you can WFH you might find others can’t. Good. That’s going to be a way you find who else should be paid more, treated better, and otherwise respected.

It may also mean you can figure how to give them the WFH benefits eventually.

Benefit Seven: Saving money

Office space is expensive. Tech is expensive. That automated coffee machine you got that is more advanced than your laptop is expensive. Maybe you’re overdoing it.

On the other hand, having people work at home, etc. saves money. Period.

However, let’s note that money should go somewhere. The savings should be spread around, people should benefit. Maybe that always-breaking coffee maker could be ditched so people got better computers.

Also, people should be reimbursed or supported for their new expenses from work from home. Keep that in mind.

Benefit Eight: Mental health

Commuting, being stuck in the workplace, etc. can be taxing. Having more time, less commute, and so on is often good for people. It might not be good with the isolation, so let’s get too . .

Benefit Nine: Thoughtful socialization

When there’s more work from home, you also think of how to connect with your co-workers better. Being in the same place a lot can really make socialization less fun – that’s one reason I and some people I know like to make fun events. You know the real kind like “eat a lot of food.”

So iif we work from home more, we find better, new, and appropriate ways to connect with our co-workers.

So What’s Next?

Well, what’s next? Let’s home we start working from home more, using the benefits, and learning how to lead our lives differently. Disease aside, there are lots of other benefits.

Let’s also keep in mind this doesn’t sove a lot of other career issues people have, from low pay to locations with few opportunities to college debt. There are many, many other issues to solve, this just solves some.

But maybe a change helps us think about other problems and solve them.

Steven Savage