The Pros and Cons of Working From Home
January 6, 2014
It’s now been over a year and half since I started working remotely as a senior software engineer for Red Hat. A large portion of Red Hat engineering is remote and the company embraces the setup. It’s certainly my dream gig and I love the work. However, working remotely, full-time, has been simultaneously incredible and difficult. Thoughts:
- You get to identify the types of environments that increase your productivity, rather than having a setting forced upon you. For me, this started out primarily at home. But, that has transitioned into a combo of a new co-working space (more on that later) and coffee shops. I’ve learned that my productivity skyrockets when out of the home and in an area with white/background noise. The point is that you have the ability to choose where to work, driven by your characteristics and the given day.
- Your schedule is typically flexible. I’m most productive in the morning and late at night, rather than a normal 8-hour chunk. Paired with a wife and her odd work schedule (nurse), outdoor hobbies, and restlessness, this has been by far the biggest plus.
- The amount of b.s. distractions, such as pointless meetings, has been nearly eradicated. I’m able to spend the majority of my time doing real work.
- Commuting time is either removed or diminished, the auto wear-and-tear reduced, and the gasoline budget obliterated.
- At my previous job, I had a lot of health issues come up that were almost all related to stress levels. Working remotely changed that almost immediately. I feel healthier, happier, and excited about my vocation.
- When I worked primarily from home, I found it was much harder to pull myself away and relax at night. Not having physical separation between an office and home became a big problem.
- Although typical distractions are reduced, others are increased. Obviously, the family, the dog (“You’re home. Why aren’t you playing with me?”), the TV, etc. become an issue. I also find that I’m more apt to goof off online at home.
- Probably the most obnoxious con is the received perception from others. I frequently hear how I don’t have a “real job”, I “sleep in till noon” (well, that’s sometimes true…), and the only daily decision is whether or not to wear pants. Some of this is certainly a generational outlook, but I think the understanding is slowly changing.
- Important parts of communication (facial expressions, cues, etc.) sometimes make discussions difficult over chat or email. Complex decisions often benefit from an occasional face-to-face meeting.
- In previous jobs, it was easy to discover new tools and workflows by conversations, co-working, and watching someone over their shoulder (in a good way…). This is obviously a lot harder remotely. To maintain the growth pace, you really have to actively look for new utilities and ideas through multiple sources.
The bottom line: the pros heavily outweigh the cons. In addition, most of the cons can be mitigated by experimenting with environmental factors. However, it’s definitely not for everyone!
Have any other tips? I’d love to hear them!