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Working From Home

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Up until I sprained my ankle the other week I’d never actually done a day’s work from home before. I’d always thought it would be great. No phones ringing every five minutes distracting me. No colleagues annoying me, distracting me or letting me annoy and / or distract them. Better equipment to work on. A place to relax and think (my lounge, garden or shower). Nobody micro-managing me who should really have something better to do. No office politics. Proper coffee on tap (I can do anything those eastern European kids in Starbucks can do):

My Coffee Machine

So I worked from home for a few days while I couldn’t walk and it turned out I was absolutely right. In a career where hours at a desk doesn’t in any way equate to productivity, I spent less time at my desk at home but managed to do around 5-10 times more work than on an average day in the office.

I thought maybe it was a blip and when I came back my productivity began somewhat higher than I left. Until the distractions started to intrude again and I’d find myself never getting in the flow at all. A day later and it was back to normal. I’ve just spent another day working from home as I really needed to get a particular task done and guess what? I got a hell of a lot more work done than I ever could have in the office.

The downside of course is the lack of human contact. Instant messaging and phone call aren’t quite the same as your basic social interaction. The best compromise? My own office with a door that closes and a phone I can leave off the hook. This concept is nothing new in the IT industry and neither is the fact that virtually no software companies offer developers offices with doors that close.

But I find it very interesting that most employers aren’t interested in increasing productivity and would rather have people spending hours at their desks – not necessarily doing much work – than working less hours in a better environment getting more done. But then again, mediocrity rules in most places. And most IT-based companies are either losing money hand over fist or could be doing a lot better. Alternatively, maybe I’m being a prima donna again?

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Scotsman, footballer, software developer, bounty hunter, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

2 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. I agree. Being seen is more important than the results.
    I had car trouble a few months ago, and the day I worked from home was the most productive I’ve had in ages. Despite that, it is frowned upon.
    The compromise we have in our office is that if we’re wearing headphones, then don’t interrupt. My manager doesn’t seem to take the hint though.

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  2. You have an office with a door? You lucky s*d!

    My own experiences completely bear out what you say. I think that the modern office environment is just about the worst place for getting things done. Where I work people (literally) sometimes fall asleep at their desks, particularly after lunch.

    Of course the productivity benefits of the door are well documented in Peopleware but the powers that be won’t do anything about it because they fundamentally don’t get it. They see programming as a clerical function.

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