Working Remotely -- Six Months In

Background

Back in June I gave up the luxury of working in my company's home office, the headquarters for the entire operation and home base for the IT workforce.

It was an abrupt change brought about by a quicker-than-expected sale of our home to move closer to family.

Taking the Good with the Bad

Good with computers, bad with names

Even though I work in a satellite office with a few dozen people, I honestly only know the names of a handful of colleagues. To be fair, this is entirely my fault, but it seems especially punctuated by the fact that most are sales/support folks with particularly extroverted personalities.

Now I'm too afraid to ask

Furthermore, I use my Logitech G35 headphones for both musical entertainment while I work, as well as my full-time phone (we use Lync enterprise). So that means I keep the headphones on even when not actively in a call. I've been chided more than once about looking like an air traffic controller as well as being completely oblivious to folks saying 'hello'.

Protip: Install a small mirror so you can see folks behind you and at least know if they're trying to get your attention :)

Working Alone is Still Productive

I'm still astounded by how productive I can be by putting on my headphones (insanely sound-dampening) and getting into Visual Studio. I don't even use my iPhone's MP3s anymore, I simply listen to albums all day on YouTube.com instead.

Sure, I get interrupted from time to time, but it's fairly easy to block of time via your calendar or set your phone settings to Do Not Disturb to imprevent a break in concentration.

Lunch? What Lunch?

The opposite side of the productivity coin is the fact that I can easily work from 7AM to 1PM-2PM without a break. Given my propensity for hypoglycemia, that means that my blood sugar can plummet and it can really affect the rest of my afternoon and evening.

Setting a meeting for 12:00 or 12:30 as a dedicated lunch time helps at least bring lunchtime to my attention so that I can stretch, relax my brain and recharge before another few hours of work.

Communication, It was Bound to Bite Me Eventually

I knew that keeping in touch with my lead and co-workers was going to be more of a challenge than before but we, as a team, had already created a pretty solid infrastructure (e.g. Standups, reviews, etc.) to keep in touch.

However, this did not translate as well to some of my even-higher levels of command. In particular, I sort of fell on my face communicating project progress to a senior manager of a project I was working on, which came to a head in a fairly spectacular fashion.

Regardless, creating that system of communication (while'st not badgering for attention) is still very much a work in progress.

Conclusion

Overall, I'm still quite happy with the current situation and, now that my family has found a house to move into, I may step it up even further to a fully-remote work environment.

That will certainly contain its own new set of challenges (e.g. work-life balance, kids in the home during working hours, WAN-shock of being off the corporate network) but it may also bring in some pretty nice benefits as well.

Stay tuned.