Today will be a slightly rushed post, there were massive AT&T outages today and I’m only just able to get around to doing a post at 2 a.m…how’s that for dedication? Today I want to discuss a topic I thought might be of some interest for developers who either work in offices who want to work from home, or people who work from home who want to hear perspectives from other developers. With that said, let’s discuss working from home, and whether it’s good, bad, or both.
Well, may as well discuss the pros, since working from home is super dreamy and awesome right? The first obvious perk is you can pretty much set your schedule, want to go on a quick walk and clear your head? Stop your timer and go. Want to make a 5 star meal and watch YouTube while you eat it? By all means, go for it. Of course this has to be within reason, for example I have to set aside time to be able to discuss issues and other things with my coworkers, or if my boss needs me to switch to something, he needs me to be able to answer his messages or emails within a timely manner, so I have to set a reasonable schedule, or if I know I’ll be away from my computer for part of the day, I need to at least be able to answer emails, or let him know I’ll be gone for a specified amount of time and for him to call if he needs something urgently.
Another perk of working from home, and this one is a bit more specific to me, is the ability to be as obnoxious as you want while trying to solve a problem. If you need to yell at your computer, think out loud, walk around while you think through a problem, etc. you can do all of those things and it’s totally fine. For me, this really helps when I have trickier things I need to work through. It’s also nice that I can work relatively uninterrupted. Typically the days I choose to work from home are days where I plan on grinding out 14+ hours of work on a single project and just need to focus and be in the right head space to do that.
You’re also able to have all the comfort of your own home, this seems like an obvious thing, but a lot of things about an office that are issues, aren’t issues at home. For example, climate control, ability to light a candle/run a diffuser to make your room smell nice, option to turn on or off the lights, eat strong smelling food, etc. Of course there’s the whole idea that you can work in your pajamas or whatever, which isn’t a perk I find all that appealing, it makes me feel lazy and gross, no offense, but hey, it’s there.
One perk, which I’ve sort of already mentioned, is the ability to set your work schedule. One reason this is nice is because you can work super late if you’re on a roll, and this can sometimes help you wrap up your work week quickly. One week in particular that happened recently, I worked 16 hours Monday, 14 hours Tuesday, and a 10 hour day Wednesday…and that was it, my week was done if I wanted it to be done, now I ended up working a ton of overtime instead of taking the week, but that wasn’t required and I could have totally just taken the rest of the week off.
Okay, so we’ve discussed some nice perks of working from home, but there are certainly some cons to be had as well. The first and most major con I find is that there is always this guilt associated with working from home. If you’re in an office, and let’s say you sort of space out for 10 minutes and don’t get any work done, it’s like “Oops, better get to work”, but at home, it’s not quite so simple. If I find myself spacing out, or wasting any time, it makes me (and others from what I understand) feel as though I’m being lazy, not working hard enough, and you end up working much longer than you normally would so you feel like you’re getting enough done.
Another con, sort of related to the previous one, is that while it’s easy to feel guilty about not working enough…it’s also easy to not work. If I’m working for a client on something, I have to start a timer and stop it when I pause work, well at an office I’m supervised, you can tell if I’m billing honestly or not. At home, if I’m an unethical developer, I can totally just leave my timer running and bill x amount of hours when I only did let’s say half the hours. When you work from home, you have to have a good moral compass to be able to ethically bill your clients or your employer for the time you say you worked.
One more con I’ll discuss is that working from home, for all the glamour it has, can also kind of…well, suck. You’re isolated all day long, you don’t interact much with others (which can be good or bad), you don’t feel as involved with a team, you don’t get a separation of work and home, you get bored of being in your house all the time (and I say that as someone who LOVES being home and having no plans more than anything), and generally you just miss out on a ton of aspects of being in a company and getting mentored by better developers than yourself. Like everything, working from home is a nice thing in doses, but when it’s all your life is, it quickly becomes just as bad as working from the office from 9-5 every Monday – Friday. Sure, it’s nice to get out of the office and work from home once in a while, but not every day, at least not for me. For me, I’ve found my best office/home work balance is 3/2 or 4/1 days in the office vs. days at home respectively. Typically I will work Monday/Wednesday/Friday in the office, and sometimes I’ll work all but one day at the office, and I’ve found this works really, really well for me.
So to wrap this up, working from home is awesome, it’s great not being around humans once in a while…but for me, it’s gotta be balanced, or it quickly becomes too much and loses it’s charm. I recommend if the option to work from home is available to you, talk with your employer and discuss with them the idea of experimenting with different variations of working from home vs. in the office to see what works best for you. If you can’t work from home…don’t worry, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, it’s got it’s perks, but frankly I sort of like being in the office if I don’t want to be working the entire day (meaning, work outside of work). Regardless of how you view the topic, I hope this was an interesting read, and I’ll see you in the next post.