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February 24, 2013

Yahoo CEO's Work-From-Home Ban Is The Exact Opposite Of What CEOs Should Be Doing

The idea that people who work from home are less productive than people in the office is laughable. I can say from experience that you can work at an office job and not do a damn thing all day if you want to. Whereas supervisors are suspicious of those who work from home so checking in and producing becomes more important. The reason I liked to work from home was two-fold: I liked to cook lunch for myself and I absolutely hated wasting time and energy on my commute. Running Chicken: Marissa Mayer's Work-From-Home Ban Is The Exact Opposite Of What CEOs Should Be Doing
There are certainly some people who benefit from the traditional work environment and there are undoubtedly jobs where “being together” is important. But there are just as certainly some people who do faster and better work when they are in a different environment. In my own case, there are some times when it’s absolutely critical that I’m physically present at work — either in the classroom, in my office, in a meeting. But there are other times when I benefit a great deal from being able to make use of technology and forward-thinking colleagues to work from home and participate in group work. As an (obviously idiosyncratic) example (because my job is admittedly not a traditional office job): I’m currently involved in several collaborative research projects with other faculty members and with students. Occasionally, if our schedules allow, we’ll meet in person. More often, though, we’ll meet together on Google and share documents via Dropbox. It’s certainly nice to sit down together, but it’s absolutely false that doing so somehow produces better or faster work than meeting remotely. In fact, in my own case, meeting together is actually far worse for my productivity than meeting remotely. Because I tend to schedule meetings for days when I’m not teaching and because I commute to work, I have to stop what I’m doing at home — typically reading or writing for an on-going research project, but also administrative tasks for UNL’s human rights program or grading student work or writing letters of recommendation — drive to work, attend a meeting or two, and then drive back home.

February 22, 2013

Paul Krugman explains how we got into this whole Sequester mess

Sequester of Fools - NYTimes.com
Here’s how it happened: Republicans engaged in unprecedented hostage-taking, threatening to push America into default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama agreed to a grand bargain on their terms. Mr. Obama, alas, didn’t stand firm; instead, he tried to buy time. And, somehow, both sides decided that the way to buy time was to create a fiscal doomsday machine that would inflict gratuitous damage on the nation through spending cuts unless a grand bargain was reached. Sure enough, there is no bargain, and the doomsday machine will go off at the end of next week. There’s a silly debate under way about who bears responsibility for the sequester, which almost everyone now agrees was a really bad idea. The truth is that Republicans and Democrats alike signed on to this idea. But that’s water under the bridge. The question we should be asking is who has a better plan for dealing with the aftermath of that shared mistake. The right policy would be to forget about the whole thing. America doesn’t face a deficit crisis, nor will it face such a crisis anytime soon. Meanwhile, we have a weak economy that is recovering far too slowly from the recession that began in 2007. And, as Janet Yellen, the vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, recently emphasized, one main reason for the sluggish recovery is that government spending has been far weaker in this business cycle than in the past. We should be spending more, not less, until we’re close to full employment; the sequester is exactly what the doctor didn’t order. Unfortunately, neither party is proposing that we just call the whole thing off. But the proposal from Senate Democrats at least moves in the right direction, replacing the most destructive spending cuts — those that fall on the most vulnerable members of our society — with tax increases on the wealthy, and delaying austerity in a way that would protect the economy.