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I am a software developer for a large corporation, and currently work from home two days a week, and I absolutely love it.

However, because of juggling of personnel, my team's office may get shutdown in the next couple of months. I have been asked my thoughts on this, and I'm not entirely sure.

I love my two days at home, and wouldn't mind even four; but going to the office I feel is essential. When I'm at the office I have lunch with the other developers, share home cooked goodies, and discuss specifics of work. Because I'm also a fairly new member of the team, I'm still learning a lot, and occasionally one of the other team members have to show me how to do something that would be incredibly difficult to do over the phone or IM.

For those of you who work from home full time and don't have an office to meet with your other co-workers, what are some problems that have occurred? How did you deal with them?

Side note: I'm not concerned about work/home divide, I've got a spare room setup as my office (with only office stuff in it [standing desk, printer, books, etc]), and I'm in a relationship with no prospects of children, and my partner understands not to disturb me while I'm working).

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put on hold as too broad by Ixrec, durron597, MichaelT, GlenH7, gnat yesterday

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If the office does get shut down what are you options besides working at home? –  Ramhound Oct 7 '11 at 18:02
There is a potential that the corporation may keep the office if enough of the developers express concern, unlikely, but that is a possibility. Another possibility is getting a new job. –  Malfist Oct 7 '11 at 18:17
The Professional Matters SE site sounds like it would be a better site for this question (if the site ever gets off the ground). –  Cyclops Oct 7 '11 at 18:31
Seriously, if you do work at home and are in calls/teleconferencing a fair amount, then you might not want to have any pets, especially birds, which tend to be rather noisy. –  Chris O Oct 7 '11 at 19:17
Eventually you will hate leaving the house because it means you have to put on pants. –  unholysampler Oct 7 '11 at 19:34

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

There is a difference between remote working when everyone else is doing remote work than doing remote work by yourself and the other members have an office together.

Remotely working every day when the others are on site is hell. At least for me it is. I like my team and I like to be involved deeply in the project. Remotely working makes me feel like I am on the perimeter and not doing much. I feel like a dead weight. There is not enough interaction with them for me and I am missing the valuable hallway talks. We do use a system to track our sprints but none of it is updated often enough so I sometimes duplicate work that others are doing. How could it maybe work? Well if I did not like people so much and if I did not have to be in the middle of things, I would need a well defined piece of work that I can do myself.

With that said I also heard that remote work is not so bad when everyone is working this way. In this case the information tends to flow through the correct channels, like email or conference calls (you cannot just get together in a second and talk about stuff real quick). Even though it might be better in this second case I would still hate it.

So my conclusion is... It really probably depends on the type of person you are.

Oh and something I missed... Just because you love working 1-2 days a week from home does not mean you will love working remotely full time. I had the opportunity to work this way as well and I cherished the time when I could work at home for a day or two a week.

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I Tend to agree here. I had a position where i worked from home 4 days a week (The office was 2+ hours away) so I really enjoyed my days in the office though the drive to and from still sucked. –  Chad Oct 10 '11 at 14:46

Working for home is good when you have cut yourself a specific task and you don't depend a lot on others. Otherwise, there will be a ton of emails and phone calls that could distract you badly.

Also, for some people focusing may be hard even if you have a good setup. It is tempting to do other things (go to kitchen, browse sites, change music, etc.).

It is possible that some people get board since there will be no one to talk to all day. You also may find yourself working overtime without good time management.

Form a team prescriptive, the team bond gets weak when people don't meet occasionally and disputes could exist due to indirect communications.

I guess that it takes special people to be productive in this environment. You have to be independent worker (not waiting for people to show you things), excellent time manger, very good communicator, enthusiastic about your work, have an environment where documentation, libraries, etc. are accessible on-line.

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I just switched 4 months ago from full-time in the office to full-time at home. c_maker is right about the disconnect when you are the only one at home. Since the other developers are not in that mindset, you tend to be the odd-man out socially and professionally. You'll find that you are out of the loop on a lot of things, start getting different kinds of assignments, etc. If you've established your niche, it can still work. If you're still proving yourself, it could be an advancement killer.

My situation is not that, everyone works from home, (except for the home office group in another city, but we've always been "remote" to them, and they're not developers.) The benefits are obvious, and there are few drawbacks. The drawbacks there are are the kind that can lead to a death-spiral, so you need to put more conscious and deliberate effort into managing the work/life priorities.

The biggest for me is that my office (I've always maintained an office in my home even before) is my favorite place to go and chill out. But now, the "work" monitors are staring me in the face whenever I do. It's tempting to get on there and do something, and even when I don't, it can feel like a silent task-master watching me. I have to be much more clear to myself about when I am and am not working. I'm even thinking of developing some kind of ritual to replace fighting traffic, which, while it sucks, you have to admit makes for a clean demarcation.

The flexibility is worth it. I seldom put in a continuous 8 hour day, and thus I am far more productive while also being far more effective in managing my personal life. But you have to be prepared to spend a little mental and time overhead on discipline. Doing it every day, you'll soon find it is very different from doing it a couple days a week. For instance, up until an hour ago, I thought today was Thursday.

As to the collaboration, there's lots of IM, phone, and things like GoToMeeting. Everybody has long ago learned to respect boundaries on IM. It works out fairly well, but I'd advise getting Skype and a really comfortable set of headphones. That way you can work and talk hands-free, and not get added fatigue just from poor sound quality and holding up a phone.

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I have google voice and place calls though my computer that way, either with just the laptop, or with the laptop and a bluetooth headset –  Malfist Oct 7 '11 at 19:51
Malfist, that works. In fact, I bought an XP Media Center laptop just for audio/video (skype, pandora, hulu, etc) so that stuff won't get in the way of my working desktop, and since I can't use more than one of those at a time anyway. Really comfortable headphones are an investment that really pays off if you're going to spend several hours a week in them, as do good speakers (if you prefer to listen to music and stuff that way) so you're not subconsciously straining to hear poor quality audio. –  kylben Oct 7 '11 at 20:00

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