Leaf Blowers And Working At Home
. . . a 1999 Los Angeles survey indicated fifty-six percent of respondents stated they modified their behaviour due to noise from gasoline-powered leaf blowers . . .
 Zero Air Pollution Los Angeles Coalition

Welcome To What Ought To Be Your Sanctuary . . .

Welcome To Your Noisy Home Office . . .

Telephone Conversations? Forget About Those . . .

Build Life-Critical Computer Control Systems? Hope You're Willing to Travel on that Airplane . . .

Every Day A Blowday . . .

Your Home Office Environment

“Working out of the home” is questionable when you can not focus on your work due to other peoples' noise . . .

“Working out of the home” is dubious at best when you can not even have a telephone conversation because noise from outside the window drowns your caller's side of the conversation as well as your own . . .

All evidence to date indicates that in the thirty-year-long War On Leaves, the leaves are winning, hands down . . . So maybe this is the time to “declare victory and leave” (so to speak) . . .

A common theme of knowledge-value work is the need for long, un-interrupted blocks of quiet time during which knowledge-value workers can focus deeply on the problems they are addressing. Psychologists recognise a mental-emotional state of “flow”, in which such creative people operate.

Society has become increasingly dependent on computer-based networked control systems: our modern world-wide financial systems; our modern world-wide transportation logistics systems; our modern world-wide energy exploration and production systems; our modern world-wide medical, hospital, pharmaceutical infrastructure; our modern police, fire, and emergency response systems; our modern world-wide satellite earth resources monitoring systems; our modern world-wide satellite navigation systems; our modern world-wide weather prediction and alert systems. All these and many more would completely collapse without the presence of high-availability, high-reliability, real-time computer software. That software, in which the average person trusts their very lives, depends critically on the ability of knowledge-value workers to do their work without external disruptions to their thought processes.

Knowledge-value workers who create critical systems and the wealth that springs from them are people who can take advantage of availability of “working out of the home”, as “face time at the office” is not a requirement for such workers.

Unfortunately, “working out of the home” requires the home—and the neighbourhood around the home—be quiet, and in this regard we all seem to be out of luck. During roughly the same period in which knowledge-value workers started the trend toward “working out of the home”, The Invasion Of The Noise Bazookas and The War On Leaves increased suburban noise levels by factors of thousands.

Knowledge-value workers wishing to “work at home” require quiet environments in which to do so. Home environments are emphatically not conducive to productive, error-free, fulfilling work when they are filled twelve to eighteen hours per day with the roar of gasoline-powered leaf blowers, gasoline-powered weed whackers, gasoline-powered chain saws, gasoline-powered lawn mowers, gasoline-powered hedge trimmers, gasoline-powered log chippers, and the general gallimaufry of “gardening gadgets”.

Our modern society simply can not afford (either via errors within critical infrastructure support systems or financial losses via lowered productivity from disrupted work environments) to continue this ludicrous state of affairs where $300 low-technology, polluting, noise-making gadgets disrupt reliability of multi-billion dollar global technologies.

There is no doubt that disruption of concentration by suburban noise is a factor in lost productivity for knowledge-value workers “working out of the home”. We examine the potential size of that cost in dollars.

These estimates are at the low end of the spectrum. Just one hour of disruption per day is optimistic: past and present experience shows disruption from gasoline-powered leaf blowers and all their gasoline-powered partners in noise-pollution crimes can be up to eight hours or more per day.

Recent census numbers estimate that 3.8 million Californians try to “work out of the home”.

The quoted Zero Air Pollution Los Angeles Coalition survey concluded that fifty-six percent of people at home modify their behaviour because of gasoline-powered leaf blowers. This means that 2.1 million Californians “working out of the home” do something to defend themselves against the depredations of the local gasoline-powered leaf blowers.

A recent survey of workers in various technology industries indicate average annual revenue per employee (a popular measure of employee productivity) is around $468,000 per employee. Assuming a 2,000-hour work year (common in technology industries), average revenue per employee is $234 per hour.

Each “working out of the home” Californian who modifies their behaviour just one hour per week because their work-flow is disrupted by weapons of mass distraction results in an annual productivity loss of $11,700 to their employer.

Continuing that theme, if each of the 2.1 million Californians “working out of the home” modifies their behaviour just one hour per week from work-flow disrupted by noise bazookas, the cost to California technology industry employers is more than twenty-four billion dollars per year. You can build eight or ten semiconductor foundries for that kind of money . . .

Worst of all, the work-flow disruption is hardly ever scheduled: there is usually no way home-workers can anticipate and work around the disruption.

Of course, we beg the question of why highly-paid wealth-generating knowledge-value workers are required to “work around” other peoples' polluting and noise-making activities.

Contact Office Of The Governor
The Obvious Conclusion . . .

Knowledge-value workers creating wealth to provide jobs for all in California should not have their “work at home” environment destroyed by twelve to eighteen hours per day roaring of polluting noisemakers outside their windows.

We can move towards home environments suitable for productive knowledge-value work by exercising our choices to eliminate leaf blowers from California.

 

This Web Page Updated 2007 September 27