Thoughts on telecommuting

Søren* is two weeks, three days old today. Through Betsy's doctor-mandated bed rest, and Søren's first weeks, I've relocated from my office at ASU to my new corner office:

View from the office

As in, in the corner of the guest room, next to the piano, under some Ikea wall shelving.

Here's what I've found:

  • At home, I work a lot more hours, not fewer. Despite needing to get up pretty frequently to do things like change diapers, replace pacifiers, reposition blankets, and keep Betsy from doing anything when she was supposed to be on bed rest, I managed to work between 10 and 15 hours per day, diffused over the whole day. The effect of this is that despite taking a bunch of whole days, I've made up for the majority of the time, and have only taken one week of vacation time over one week with Betsy in the hospital for pre-term labor, four weeks of playing Bed Rest Enforcer, and two and 1/2 weeks of being home with my son. At the end of a 13-15 hour day, I don't feel burnt out like I would sitting in the office, away from my family.
  • Work time is more productive. When I'm working, I can focus better on what I'm doing. I don't have frequent interruptions or redirections that I have to change mental gears to deal with. I've cranked out a lot of code from my comfy corner nook.
  • I don't feel disconnected. My coworkers reach me the same way they would if they were down the hall - by instant messenger and email. I've gone in for a few meetings as needed. I'm every bit as accessible here as at the office.
  • I do miss a few things. Like eating at Phonecia with coworkers, and my new Mac Pro with 30" display at the office. I never thought the 24" monitor I bought for my home office would feel small, but it does.

It's been awesome that my employer is flexible enough to allow me to spend the time I need with my family, while still keeping up with work commitments.

* I'm adding the ø just to irritate his mother.


Mission accomplished - I'm irritated.

For me, it's just easier to get plugged back in when interrupted at home than at work. I have four dogs to look after, rather than a baby, but in both cases (I guess?) the interruptions are not very cerebral. Whereas many times a coworker drags me out of my little trance by asking a question I have to seriously think about.

Working from home may improve certain efficiencies, but that also accelerates the rate fuel is consumed; this can lead to some serious exhaustion since I often don't realize how long I've been at it. The damnable thing is that the resulting code tends to be much better.