Saturday, April 07, 2007

No Admittance

What shall we talk about today?

By the time you are reading this, I'll be pushing wood through a saw. I have help occasionally, but for the most part it is a solitary thing.

Many people used to work in solitary endeavors, or in small groups. Those types of situations are becoming much more common again, and many more people are joining the ranks of the fractured work force, as I have. I think it's better in many ways.

There is an image I have in my head of the average denizen of the office building. It is not an imaginary image, as I have worked there myself. It occurs to me that it it is the office building filled with information workers that is old-fashioned, not me and my version of the work picture.

The office building is the text version of belching smokestack-noon whistle-timecard punching-id badge-break room-factory of my youth. The cubicles and the old CRTs and the in and outboxes are the assembly line of text now. That's the modern version of the old sepia colored photo of a humming factory. You nice folks with the boxy shoes and skinny glasses and the Blackberrys and ACT folders open are the buggy whip people now. You are the people who used to wear coveralls and carry a sandwich in a pail and grind it out until you get a watch and bed with a lid. Not me.

The idea that you'd all congregate in one place made sense when there was a smelter in the back. The smelter is a server now, and you probably don't even know where it is. There is little reason to congregate in one place between low-pile carpeting and drop ceilings just to think. It is unlikely people will continue to do so much longer.

I have a network of persons to help me when I need it. That pool is too small, but not inconsiderable. We congregate when it is necessary. We generally each have the tools we need available to us wherever we are, or go. We buy components and materials and machinery from people we will never meet, and sell the fruits of these constantly shifting associations to other persons we may never meet. In the past, I've even occasionally worked in occupied homes and never met the occupants. It's not always necessary.

The little shelf outside the HR office with the brightly colored forms. The vending machine. The bagels laid out before all but the most hardy clerk arrives by a contractor no one has ever met. It's all going the way of the dodo. You cutting edge old-fashioned people are going to have to learn to live in the world outside the office tower. The world is booming, and it's kinda scary if your sun is of the fluorescent variety. Be brave, and do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of by those that say they can put the workplace genie back in the bottle.

I bet you'll like it out here.


Ruth Anne Adams said...

Dear Sippican:
From your keyboard to God's screen.
10th Floor "Office" [nee cubicle] Dweller

SippicanCottage said...

My experience with very efficient persons is that their presence is required more than is required. Most people with thinking jobs should do them from home four days out of five, and only go to the office to steal stationery.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sippcan,

A happy and blessed Easter to you and your family. Thank you for your wonderful posts.


Ron said...

That, my friend, is a hella great post! This follows a string of really excellent ones... For over twenty years I've been saying these things, seemingly onto deaf ears. I've tried to say "Why are we babysitting our bosses?" just to get the juices going, but no...

Thanks for cool stuff, nearly every day!

vbspurs said...

Sippi, I'm sorry I have been away from our Mother Ship, Althouse, for such a long time, though I will soon return.

Here's hoping you and yours have a happy, united Easter or Pesach! :)


SippicanCottage said...

Thank you all for your kind words and for visiting and commenting. Happy Beltaine to each of you.

Eric said...

Living the life of Dilbert as I do, I notice the contractors, the consultants and so forth that wander in and about the cube farm I toil away (sort of) in.

But I've been hearing this "the office is going away" sort of thing for quite a while (decades, actually) now, and much like COBOL, I personally expect the office to hang about for a good while longer yet.

This is of course, not to say that you're entirely wrong, as even I get to telecommute 20% of my time these days.