Thursday, May 13, 2010

Working from home

I am lucky enough to be able to work from home once a week. I have a new baby (mom is staying home for the first few months), and I can help out around the house a little bit. As long as I put in my 8 hours from COB on Wednesday and by the time I get to work on Friday, I'm square/legal/legit/honest.

Working from home is a bittersweet thing. It has its pros and cons. I would list them as follows:

  • You save "drive time". This means that I am gaining the time it takes me to drive to and from work, which is about 40 or so minutes in my case (round trip).
  • Save gas money. I drive 20 miles to work (round trip), and I have a truck that gets around 15mpg. This means I'm saving around $3 a day that I work from home.
  • Set you own hours. I can work whenever I want. If I can get 2 hours of work done on Wednesday night, then doing 6 hours of work on Thursday is fine as long as there are no fires to put out.
  • Lounge clothes. Gym shorts and a t-shirt all day long! I love it.
  • Music that isn't coming through the headphones.
  • Reclining. I can sit in my recliner and work on my laptop.
  • Lunch. I can eat here. There is no pressure to go out. Saves time and money.
  • Distractions from other people. If I'm at home, I need to help with the baby a little bit. So when mom takes her shower in the morning, I need to take a 15 minute break from work. When mom is doing something and the baby is near me and he cries, I need to do something about it. She wants to talk to me. She sees me sitting in a chair with my laptop, and the room is silent, and wants to break the silence. Or I may be in the living room, and she will come and turn on (and up) the TV. Her phone might ring, and she will want to have a conversation with the person while I'm 2 feet away and trying to concentrate.
  • Distractions from the house itself. If I'm working from home, I might as well have some laundry going. I might as well have my iRobot running. The dogs will bark, or they will want to go outside. These things can get distracting.
  • The pressure. I don't want people at work to think I'm not working hard at home (slacking), so I feel the need to overperform or work a little extra to prove that I am doing something.
  • Personal project distractions. Desires to do things (such as bloggin) will creep in. I'm not much for surfing the Internet (I only have a few sites I pay attention to), so that isn't really a distraction (nor is the desire to turn on the TV). But I do like doing things such as blogging and working on personal stuff.
  • Food. We purposely don't keep anything sweet or insanely unhealthy in my house because I will devour it within a few hours of bringing it home. But I still find myself checking to see what is in the fridge every time I get up.
  • Development environment. If your managers/owners are worth anything at all, they provide you with a pretty good working environment; one that is pretty industry-standard, and that promotes good work and comfort. You may not be able to recreate this at home. My work development machines are pretty good, especially for writing code (3 monitors on a Linux system). My home environment is a laptop. While my physical comfort level is better at home, my programming environment is not as nice.
It is a tricky business when trying to balance the work one must do with the flexibility that one can allow when working from home. Yes, I can take little breaks here and there, but I have to get 8 hours in at some point, and they must be good, quality hours. One of the things I am going to try to do is a weekly review of an album. I can buy an album every week, listen to it 2 or 3 times on Thursdays, and then write a review. It will give me something to do, as well as open/broaden my horizons when it comes to music.

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