Monday, March 21, 2011

Inescapable Teams

Last week, one of my managers requested a self-assessment of my performance for the quarter. He also asked whether I had any suggestions for the next quarter. In my reply, I suggested that it would be nice to discuss his thoughts about the possibility of me telecommuting at some point.

I was pleasantly surprised when he responded to my email. My other manager simply ignores me whenever I bring up the topic of telecommuting. Here's the response that I received:

What is your motivation for telecommuting? I try to be very accommodating of work/life balance as I believe it leads to long term satisfaction as well as productivity. The new offices are not far away and I believe you have the shortest commute of anybody. So I really don't understand the motivation. I am a firm believer that small development teams working closely together is the best option for productive development as well as personal development. I don't like the pattern we are using of one big scrum team without much intra-team communication... While we are a pretty quiet team, I feel like having you sit with the team has been beneficial toward promoting conversation.

As a whole, it's a reasonable response and I appreciate at least being able to have a discussion about the topic. But it was clear from his response that he wouldn't understand my motivation. He firmly believes, after all, that a small development team working closely together is best -- not only for productive development, but also for personal growth. But how would he know what environment is best for my productivity? I'm fairly certain he doesn't know what's best for my personal growth.

My motivation for telecommuting isn't entirely about my introversion -- in fact, it's not even mostly about it -- but it still irks me whenever the idea of the individual loses out to that of the team. If my personal growth depends on working closely with a team, then let me be stunted. As an introvert, I feel like I've spent most of my life adapting to a social world. I've grown, yes, and I've learned how to get by in that world; meanwhile, I've neglected another kind of growth, the kind that involves just being myself. I'd like to grow in the way that I see fit, not only in the way that's best for the team.

Also, I don't see why I need to sit next to the team in order to effectively communicate with them. It's silly to think so, especially for a technology team.

In any case, I wrote a long email about my motivation for telecommuting and I tried to be clear and reasonable in return. I'm not expecting much to come from it, but at least I had a chance to plead my case. I do hope that my manager will see that there are other perspectives, though.



laineydear said...

I think it's really good (not to mention brave) of you to respond with an explanation of your reasoning. I'd be curious to hear an update whether you won your case?

Zeri Kyd said...

Lainey, it's been a week, but I haven't heard anything back yet. It's disappointing, especially considering how much detail and thought I put into my response. I will post an update if anything new comes from this, though.