New York City Transit Strike and Being Sick

Posted December 22, 2005 by

Millions of New Yorkers have been harmed by the city’s latest transit strike. Most are finding a way of getting to work, getting errands done, and generally staying mobile. But the loss of mass transit has made the already stressful process of getting to and from work almost intolerable. And with the holidays right around the corner, little gets done at work at this time of the year even without a strike, so many workers have decided to avoid the mess and instead work from home.
Coincidentally, I wasn’t able to get much work done today either, although my situation wasn’t due to the transit strike. Instead, I was knocked sideways (not as bad as being knocked backwards) by some kind of virus. Almost like the flu. Almost like the common cold. But not quite either. Yet due to the incredible advances in modern communication, I was able to be almost as productive from my living room as from my office. I checked and returned emails. I instant messaged with key vendors. I talked on the phone with a client. And I participated in a conference call during which we won a significant new client.

So what does the transit strike and my illness have to do with each other? Well, nothing and everything. They’re unrelated, yet directly related. The strike has nothing to do with my virus, yet the outcomes were the same. Many in New York stayed home yet worked. I did the same. They were productive. So was I. They probably enjoyed the experience. So did I. Yet they know that staying home and wearing their favorite bunny slippers won’t allow them to be as productive over the long run as being at work where they can collaborate with others.
I’m a huge fan of telecommuting. I’m a huge fan of people being able to work from home. I’m a huge fan of flex time, of job sharing, of distance education, of all of the things that allow us to unchain ourselves from our desks and enjoy life’s fleeting moments. But I’m also a realist. While some joke that everyone should work from home, including police, fire, medical, 7-Eleven Slurpee makers, and other essential employees, there is no way that will ever happen. Nor should it. But what should continue to happen is that those who are able to work at home and who choose to work at home should be able to do so in a manner that is productive both for them and their employer.
Long live the bunny slipper!

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