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A software developer’s musings on software development

What's it like working from home?

Warning: I wrote this blog in 2014. That is a long time ago, especially on the internet. My opinions may have changed since then. Technological progress may have made this information completely obsolete. Proceed with caution.

As of yesterday, I have been working from home full-time1 for two years. Something that I get asked a lot is “How do you like working from home?”. My general answer is that “it’s great!”, which usually lead to a bunch of follow-up questions. I thought I’d collect a few of the answers here.

I don’t work in my pajamas, in my underwear, or in the nude2. Even on weekends, I feel like a slob if I don’t take a shower and put on normal clothes once I get out of bed. On a few rare occassions I have worked in my pajamas if I had an early meeting, or if I just felt like sleeping longer. But, given that I work from home, I usually have no problem getting up early enough to take a shower before “early” meetings. Or sometimes I stay in my pajamas because I’m planning to go running at lunchtime, and there’s no reason to take a shower when I know I’m going to need to take another in a few hours.

I do get to wear climate-appropriate clothing. This means shorts and a t-shirt and barefoot in the summer.

My wife and the kids don’t distract me very much. They generally stay downstairs most of the day, when they are home. My daughter is in kindergarten now, and my son has started preschool, so there are a lot of quiet days. The bonus room, which doubles as my office, is isolated enough from the rest of the house that they don’t usually bother me. When they do come upstairs, I can close my door if I need to. I would say I have less distractions here than I would being at the office.

A lot of people tell me they could never stay focused working from home, or that they would go crazy. I can see that, and it’s not for everyone. It takes a certain type of personality. I would go crazy in a job where I had to talk to strangers all the time. To each his own.

I will confess to multitasking during meetings. Anyone who says they are paying complete attention to an online meeting is lying. But people do the same thing when they’re sitting in the conference room with a laptop open. Some meetings require very active participation, and some meetings are just someone talking for an hour when only five minutes of that actually concerns me. I use my best judgement to figure out where I am on that continuum.

I get to play my ukulele at work! That’s something that would probably be frowned on in most offices. It’s a good way to pass time when I’m waiting on everyone to dial-in for a meeting, or when I’m waiting for some big file to upload/download. I have Hey Soul Sister pretty much nailed.

My internet connection has been extremely reliable. In the past two years, I’ve only had the internet go out out during the day twice. Once I lost about half a day’s work, but the other time I only lost half an hour. We pay the extra $10 for increased internet speed, and I can join in to teleconferences while talking on a VOIP phone while my wife is streaming Netflix downstairs with no problem. I would love some Google Fiber, but it seems I am living in the wrong suburb of Raleigh...

There is one part about working from home that I do not like at all. And that is when I get an email that say “Bagels in the breakroom!”

  1. Well I guess I am technically only eighty-seven percent remote, not full-time remote, since I go into the office for two days every three weeks. 

  2. I realize that, for some people, all three of those are the same thing. I am not one of those people.