Updated: 6/5/2007; 12:09:19 PM.


on personal productivity in knowledge-intensive environments, weblog research, knowledge management, PhD, serendipity and lack of work-life balance...
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  Monday, May 28, 2007

  BlogWalk Amsterdam: on full-time employment

As I wrote before, one of my difficulties with 'digital bohemians' as a focus of this BlogWalk was it's connotation: the term assumed lack of full-time employment. I can understand from where it comes: many organisations restrict choices in respect of what to do at work and how (when, where, with whom...) to do it. As a result for many people breaking their ties with any type of full-time employment is the way to do their work in a way they want it.

I don't think it should be like this - that working for an organisation means selling your soul to the devil sacrificing your values and your preferred working style. The only problem I guess is finding those organisations :)

Why I'd prefer to work for an organisation?

Infrastructure that allows me to focus on my core business. I have an experience of do-everything-yourself work in an NGO. It was extremely rewarding: to do what you believe in, to see how it make the world a better place, to be proud that you did everything yourself and to have pretty good pay as well. However, I spent a lot of time doing things (accounting, for example) that I didn't really wanted to do, but had to as they "came with the job".

At work I'd like to focus on my core business - things that I not only can do well, but I also love doing. For example, I can program (even did freelance programming during my student's days), but this is something that I'd rather leave to someone else. Working for an organisation gives me such an opportunity. I don't have to do accounting anymore, technology infrastructure is just there (sure I can buy hardware, install and update software, and solve most of my own tech troubles, but I prefer not doing it), I have access to on-line libraries and can get articles that I can't find without figuring out what I might need and negotiating the deals, I can bring my input and shape new projects, but I don't have to deal with contracts and legal stuff, I can get my post sent, trips booked and post-its bought by someone else.

Office space: people, serendipity and energy. Although I like working at home, there are good reasons for having an office. It's creates a low threshold opportunity for being with other people (like-minded in some respects, different in others), serendipity of hearing a comment at coffee table that just fits the missing space in the puzzle and energy of working with others.

Of course, you can do the same in a technology-mediated way, but it's not the same (as Carla said at BlogWalk – reading blogs doesn't replace coffee-table conversations). Another alternative would be wifi-cafes and coworking spaces, but I guess it will take a while longer to have critical mass of people working there (enough to have unplanned very work-specific) conversation.

Is there a price to pay?

Sure, working for a company sets a lot of boundaries, many of which don't make me happy (I long for a bit more flexibility, a bit more nature, a bit more fun and struggle with invisible work ). The good point that I can stretch those boundaries – and I prefer working on that (and not on accounting:).

At the end it's up to following your passions and taking responsibility and risks, regardless of the form of employment. I wrote about crafting one's workplace to fit personal preferences  three years ago and I still believe in it.


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This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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