My only real complaint is that no-one ever reads past the first paragraph of any email. Sometimes emails have to be longer than that, so every now and again, I have to hop on a plane and go and explain to someone what all those second paragraphs said.
This is precisely why both of my last two employers actively forbade real Wikis in favor of dumbed-down Word document repositories.
Don't even try to make the conversion full featured, just rip it plain text. When the boss asks why his charts and headers don't convert over, show him how easy it is to fix that in the wiki. By getting his feet wet this way, eventually he might not even bother uploading word docs at all.
Or maybe I have too much faith in pointy-haired bosses.
The rational response to that from the PHB's point of view is to ban wikis.
PDFs are a really valuable tool when you don't want people to modify your document, and you have the political capital to refuse changes.
I've worked from home before and I can pretty much relate to what the article says. It's nice to do once in a while, but I much prefer to actually go to the office.
The key to working from home is to have a clear separation between your office and the rest of your life. It's ok if it crosses over (after all, that's the advantage of not having to work at an office), but they shouldn't be intertwined.
However, I still really enjoyed the flexibility of it and still had enough social interaction to keep me sane.
Now that I am only working on a startup, it is so relaxing :) Maybe because I am enjoying the process and work instead of just trying to put in hours.
I continue to work from home because I think that, for me, it's a net win. This article is intended to point out its downsides, not to suggest it's a bad idea overall for everyone. I'm looking forward to writing about the positive aspects of working from home in a few days.
In business you can't expect most people to read a multi-paragraph email, realize what their role in the decision is, and act on it.
Also, some of us have much higher mental bandwidth for email communications than average. So it's a good idea to start the "handshake" with a very simple communication and take it from there, regardless of how intelligent the recipient may be in other areas.
it's 3am right now, i'm just wrapping up. i didn't start work today until 1pm because i had to help my girlfriend pack and get to the airport.
i one of my housemates is a good friend though and also works from home, so maybe i'm insulated from the loneliness factor.
I think I fall into this trap when I want to generalize about my experience with others. For instance, if I observe some common behavior in virtually everyone I know, I might start saying "when you're such-and-such-ing...." because it seems easier than constantly reminding the reader that I'm simply generalizing based on my experience. However, I can see your point - that this really could be messing with the people who read it who maybe aren't directly my target audience. This might change my writing style significantly. :)
I don't know how many times I had people over, only to be thinking in the back of my mind that I should be working.
If you don't have a separate computer for work then maybe a separate login would help in a similar fashion. Since the physical (distance) separation isn't there you have to find a way to create something similar.
I'm on the east coast. Most of my direct co-workers are on the west coast. I typically work from 06:00 to 09:00, then perhaps do other stuff for a few hours, then work again for a few hours in the afternoon. Then, depending on work load, I may get back at it for a few hours once my kids are asleep, which still allows me to interact with people on the west coast.
And depending on your work, you'd probably get paged at home even if you work at an office anyway.
I have a separate physical office on the property, and at night I take a laptop into the house, but never work long enough that the battery runs out.
Not to mention that my home office is better equipped, quieter and I cant tell you how much better I would feel without someone watching over my shoulder all the time or my boss practising his micro management techniques on me.
I would even take a slight cut in pay for the privilege of working at home.
People who list complaints about working from home don't know how good they have it - they have freedom to work the way they want. Working from home takes discipline and should be seen as a privilege, not as an entitlement.
A big drawback I can see of working from home is that, regardless of where you are, you have to call in for a daily 9:30 (Eastern) scrum call. On the West coast, that means 6:30 call-in.
I work from home, but I put in my years in soulless cube farms - as did everyone I know (besides farmers) that work from home now and I know how nice it can be by comparison. That said, working from home is not a holy grail. It has it's downsides - like everything else. It's unfair to say that those of us who work from home somehow don't have valid complaints about it.
More than 3 days a week at home and you start to lose the benefits.
As someone who has been exclusively working remotely for several years, I'm not so sure about that. I guess it depends what you consider the benefits to be and from which side of the employee/employer fence you're on. Are the benefits that you have a more relaxed and free adult life - in both work and play? Or are you looking for a hack to try to forcibly increase worker productivity beyond that which is attainable with a full time in-office approach?
When working just a couple days a week or month remotely, it can feel like a nice break from the distraction-filled office life and so it's natural to treat it as such - maybe you work harder/longer to get the most out of it so as to not squander the special time and privilege. When you're home all day every day, you have to pace yourself or else you'll burn out in a matter of weeks - same as if you worked sun up to sun down in the office everyday. That self-pacing could feel/look like suddenly it becomes less useful to work remote all the time, but I think the reality is that people can only work so hard for so long no matter where they physically locate themselves. (And each person has a different threshold.) If the "work from home 3 days a week" thing is really nothing more than a piece of "aren't we an awesome place to work" cheese dangling in front of the employees noses, I think eventually that backfires and people burn out more completely (and cynically) - so they begin to slack off on those days at home and think of them as a good time to take a "much deserved" break by "sneaking" out to have fun during the day. Inevitably the company responds by requiring phone checkins during regular office hours, demanding you be online/IM/email/webcam at certain hours, snidely pointing out how long it takes you to reply to a message, etc. At which point, you might as well go into the office everyday because, frankly, you are getting none of the true benefits of working from home anyway.
I even live in a lost city as far as technology is concerned and have found at least a couple of others who also work from home doing software development. We try to get together and work from a coffee shop every now and then.
Look around for local Linux user groups or programming language interest groups - you'll probably find some other kindred spirits.
The problem is mostly assuredly the lack of human contact. Not physically seeing people every day got to be a little rough. I'd force myself to go out on weekends and be social but it still felt fake.
The other big problem was that since I lived in the PNW and winter was setting in. It would be dark when I got up, and dark when I shut down for the day. This mean I never really saw the sunshine. I wouldn't really leave my house for days at a time. This got to be an issue. I felt trapped, even worse than that corp job I took while in college.
Now I live in San Francisco. The startup I work for has an office. I see sun almost every day. Hell I walk 2 miles to and then 2 miles from work every day. Its great! I think the human contact combined with the daily walk has increased both my energy level and my moral.
As a caveat to this. I still prefer to work from home at least one day a week. As the break from the daily in office distractions (meetings, troubleshooting, lunch, etc..) is nice.
So I think proper life balance is in order when working from home. If almost a daily regiment that forces one to go stop working and go have meaningful human interaction.
I go to the gym every day right after I wake up. It's a great way to start the day and there are other human beings there, although I don't actually talk to them as I am not there to socialize.
I have a hard time rolling out of bed and working all day after a while, so it's helpful to have a way to "work into" the day.
The thing I get from this whole post is that the author lacks passion for his work. His tone makes his work sound like some terrible chore that he's forced to do. Don't get me wrong: a "good job" every now and then is always nice, but not receiving it shouldn't be the primary reason you shouldn't work from home.
If you're the type of person that gets bored easily or needs lots of external feedback in order to motivate yourself, working from home/starting your own business is going to be very difficult.
If you are the kind of person who is NOT motivated by external feedback, how are you going to be successful in business when so much of succeeding in business is responding to the external feedback you receive from customers? Not all of this comes from face to face interaction, true, but it would probably help to have such interaction with customers on occasion. Probably much of how your customers perceive and interact with your product, and how they perceive your company, will only be apparent from body language cues.
This is not to argue against working from home, but to argue that external feedback is almost always important.
Feedback from your customers is very important and is one of the best ways to determine if you're on the right course (though as many have pointed out, you should often correctly ignore it.)
I work from home. I get lunch with friends. I get dinner with colleagues. I go outside. I'd trade a 6 figure salary for just barely scraping by/starting-up and working from home any day <% unless @married = 1 -%>.
Also, I'm fortunate that I'm excited about what I'm working on and don't feel the need to sneak in scrabble and mute phone calls while screwing around on youtube.
Cultivating that rich feedback that he seems to be missing is hard. I think that IRC is a good start. Video chat is better. It may not work for this guy's company because they still have their "professional" personas active while chatting. You have to let your hair down and be comfortable with a flamewar once in a while. If the personalities of those involved aren't compatible with this, then maybe they shouldn't be in startup/small companies.
I hate to use so many cliches in one sentance, but you really have to be able to be agile and iterate quickly. The development infrastructure helps to address this. If you have good source control and a good project structure that lets you check out a branch to a new directory and just GO then you have a good thing going. If your product requires lots of setup and back-end things that take time and careful configuration, it's going to suck a lot.
When I started working from home, the first thing I did was go out looking for a co-working studio in my city. I knew that I was going to do my best work from home at night, but I go to the "office" so I can still get coding done during the day. I have a full office setup in my apartment that I use from 6am until 11am almost everyday, I go to my "office" from 11am to 4pm and then come home, working from 9pm until midnight. It's a crazy work schedule and the thing that keeps me sane is splitting my time between my home office and co-working "office", so I'm not wasting so much time during the day with boredom/loneliness/the internet.
I understand that this may not be suitable for everyone, but it works great for me and I've worked out of almost every space you can imagine. To me, it is 100% worth it to get yourself a decent home office and/or a co-working office to be the most effective.
I've worked from home for one year and have been more productive, thanks in large part to dropping my commute and avoiding non-work-related office chat sessions that can suck up 30 minutes in a typical day. I also work longer, because I don't feel guilty about staying at work late and neglecting my family (being able to have lunch and dinner with them is huge). I typically work right up until dinner starts at 6:30, and often go back for another 30 minutes to an hour afterwards.
On the other hand, having face time with co-workers is very valuable. Many office chat sessions do involve projects or turn into idea-sharing discussions that are very important to the health of an organization and can't be easily duplicated using IM or email. For this reason, I try to visit HQ about once every two months.
The most bothersome drawback to me was that I felt judged by a different standard than those in the office. If I had an unproductive week, it was assumed that I was goofing off, while the same standard wasn't held for those that worked in the office, presumably because their butts were in chairs.
For the last four months of those two years, my wife was at home raising a newborn. It was nearly impossible for me to concentrate. I won't work from home again until my child is out of the house or until I build a detached office.
But if you possibly can, get everyone on your team together every day in a shared space; http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=251884.
Don't get an office if it will only be you working there. Do consider working at a hacker space/coworking place.
I found using videochat very useful, since you can discuss about things and overhead other people discussing, get feedback in live, feel that you're working(since somebody might be watching you). You also need to take shower, dress up a little that you look somewhat sharp. It feels almost like going to work, except you don't need to commute.
(I have worked from home quite a lot as a freelancer and also had a job with regular telecommute, but never felt like I was actually "working".)
p.s. I would really appreciate if anyone would be willing to look at my site I just finished designing last night and would love to hear any thoughts, opinions or suggestions...
Then, of course, there's the other times when I play a flash-game 2 hours straight..
Once a week + the weekend is definitely enough for me.
Then don't use those. Use immersive telepresence, instead. http://www.hp.com/halo/introducing.html
The tech is awesome, and I've used HP Halo rooms, but they really aren't meant for home deployment. There's just too much physical setup needed (aligning cameras, tvs, etc) that I doubt it'll ever work for that purpose.
And some of the people here could help make it happen. (What if digital picture frames or pocket-size projectors had auto-focus, auto-pan cameras, and however many you positioned in a single room auto-configured themselves for optimal telepresence effect? Etc.)
So it's a valid suggestion from a speculative perspective, even if we know a single home worker isn't likely to buy one of these top-end systems today.
This article in the economist was good, but now behind a pay-wall: http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=...
The kids make me wish I had a flamethrower, but so do people who talk in the office, and the kids are at least cuter than the office people. Except some of the chicks. I sure hope they don't read that. Anyway, working from home is basically awesome, but yeah, you do need human contact, and context for conversation.
That's why I'm giving up this life and going to work in a lab.
Hmm isn't intellectual ability the ability to adapt to your environment? If you think working from home is nice and you find out it's crap then use your fucking mind.