Working from Home

I started an experiment this week –  I set up a home office, and I attempted to work from home as the rule rather than the exception.

Pro’s and Con’s

The “Previous” column applies to previous work situations, when I was not in a consultant role.  It helps highlight how awesome my current setup is.

Green = Better, Red = Lesser, Purple = Can Be Improved

Topic Work from Home Work at Office Previous
Commute Time 5-6 hours/week time gained back not commuting 120 miles Time to listen to cool podcasts like Hanselminutes; (annoying traffic) Best commute time ever = 7 minutes walking.  (UGS)
Boot/Flow “Roll out of bed, make coffee, log in, and absorb / plan the day; then take a shower, and start getting things done” => My energy flows into work more gracefully, not rushing things so I can “get to work” (I have a hard time getting started in the mornings)  
Owning My Home I get to experience the house all to myself.. it feels good. ++Introvert (Never at home by myself – left in chaos and came home to chaos.  Didn’t know anything  was missing)  
Music Listen to music out loud, sometimes sing along and dance while coding I close my door so people don’t get disturbed “Nice work Geddy Lee” – Sean H – in response to my singing out loud with headphones on – I didn’t know I was singing
Ergonomics Standing desk, wall mounted 25” monitors (eyes don’t work so good) can be upgraded  
Light (Basement) but I put a lot of lights in Nice big window, office, door I can close (cubicles are so cramped)
Equipment Purchase own equipment; choice
(but costs money)
Good stuff provided (crap for hardware)
Snack-ology Lots of healthy snacks (and some unhealthy ones too)
(Too easy to get to snacking)
(Must avoid Free Oreos and Pop) Not free = good?
Lunch Food Easy transport of leftovers – keeping the fridge clean! (I keep forgetting to bring in my lunch)  
Pets Dogs curled up at feet = warm footrests and easy to love on; take a break to snuggle with cat    
5 minute / long compile breaks Dishes / cleaning gets done, house cleaner, don’t have to do in evening, I like cleaning as a mind-wiper. I do the Kitchen Inventory and Burndown graph of coffee supplies I used to do Sam’s Club runs for Cheesy-Poofs at a startup
Post work flow Walk around the block = exercise = clearer head    
Errands Easier transition to errands — all my errands are near my house, not near work; Life works better.
(Loose the 6 hours that were gained here)
(Have to plan for errands meticulously)  
Geeky Friends   Love the lunch time conversations about everything geeky  
Working as a Team   Much easier to whiteboard / see where folks are at / interact (“We’re all in this awful thing together” team mentality)
Time worked / Time Taken (Too easy to ADHD/interrupt – must use the force to stay on target) Default focus = work, nothing else to do  
2nd Half of Day (3pm: Take a break, suddenly its tomorrow) 3pm: Take a break; still at work; get back to work  
Underlying Motive “Working to be of Service” is what sustains me, “working for the man” mentality slips away (Used to confuse the two – now getting clearer) (“Working for the man” mindset – see below)
Interrupts (Wife/Family interrupts – when they are at home.  Working on it) Very few, to the point where they are welcomed (constant interru- now what? –pts)

Conclusions thus far

At first I thought it was an either/or situation – I had a primo office at work, if I started working from home, of course I should give up my work office for somebody who wanted it.   However – we’re now expanding our work areas.  My work place is cool enough that .. I may not need to give up my awesome work office if I start working from home more – I can have both.

It also depends what project I’m on.  My projects right now are solo efforts – the only people I interact with are on the Client side – so not being in the office is no big deal.  However, if I’m working with buddies at work – I would really rather be at work than working from home.    Especially if there’s a whiteboard involved.   Note, there are lots of tools now to get that accomplished – but nothing beats face to face time when working on a problem with somebody else.

The Motive Angle

Working from home is cleaning up my motives. 

I didn’t realize it, but the last 5 years of working at a certain company, I totally bought in to the (subtle) mentality of “the world is against us, woe woe woe, how can we survive today”.  The focus was to show up, figure out expectations, get exactly that done to not get in trouble, sprinkle in some fun if anything left over, and call it good.    It wasn’t really about being of service – the people we were servicing felt like they owned us (since they brought in the money, and we were an expense), and all blame flowed down to development.  I could still be of service, but I had to dig deep.

When I switched over to my current job, I brought some of that “yes master” stuff over with me.  Constant questions on “am I doing this right, is this as expected”, etc … I had an underlying lack of confidence that what I had was enough, I kept trying to act in a play that didn’t exist.

At the old place, working from home was “tolerated” – they would say “we need you here to be present to help out”; I think the truth was more like “You might not be working” and “We own you”.    

The new place – we were having some office space difficulty – need new offices built out.  I had an Idea, and asked if me working from home temporarily would help smooth some of that over.  To my surprise, they said “no need to give up your office – try it out and see if it works for you; we have faith in you”.  I was floored.

So I did it.  And in getting all that set up, I realized.. that “I must work to meet expectations” model just doesn’t work at home.  The people to please just aren’t there.    So what am I left with? 

For me, the underlying answer has always been:  To be of service.  To solve the problem at hand.  To do the next right thing.    To make people’s lives better. 

So that’s what I’m doing.   

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