Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Working from Home Experience

Last Friday was one of those days when my decision to Work From Home (WFH) paid off extra dividends.  A dusting of snow hit Chicago though nothing major by historical seasonal standards.  However, whenever there is snow, people do seem to experience a sort of amnesia when it comes to driving.  Based on some of the posts on FaceBook and other sites I frequent, it seems like I avoided one big hassle.

Working from home has been around since the Brady Brunch and probably before, though it was more for lawyers and accountants who had their own business and decided to utilize a spare room in their home as an office until they could afford to lease a traditional brick and mortal office in more prime Corporate America locations.  Beyond that, the first iterations of WFH were probably put in a bunch of hours at the office, and then feel free to do as much more work at home as you want. 

I could WFH in this office if it also had a pool table

At the No-Name Software Company, we got to WFH once a week as a concession for moving our offices to the Siberia of Downtown because the CIO wanted to live closer to his new condo.  Because we we call-takers, we were expected to work a specific shift that matched our office hours. 

At the Low-Rent Consulting Company WFH was limited to the rare occasion when I was sent to some north suburb job, finished up and there was no valid reason to make me return to downtown, i.e. only an hour left in the day.  Usually they still made you come back to base because the EC was a vindictive troll who liked to wield her power.

At Big Buck Law Firm 2.0, WFH was not encouraged either.  I could do it but there had to be a justifiable reason like I was waiting for the furnace repairman or expecting a critical package or something out-of-the-ordinary and it certainly couldn't be done on a recurring schedule.  Of course I was free to do as much work at home as I wanted after putting in 8+ hours at the office.

At my current place of employment, TopFive, WFH has been taken to a new level.  People can officially request a specific recurring day (or two) to WFH or they can do like me and ask on a weekly basis for a WFH day.  At one of my 1-on-1s my boss said I could WFH more than once a week if so inclined.

Most people split their WFH day by logging on, doing some work, then they take a break to take their kids to school, or shelp them over to some after school activity.  Then they come back and clock in a few more hours. 

I'm a big proponent of the WFH thing and really think that it will become more common in jobs where leveraging technology provides the ability to WFH.  Nightingale is a nurse and will probably always have to go to the hospital.  But even she has figured out a way to do some of her computer work at home so that she can duck out early to avoid traffic.  So even though she will not likely work an entire day from home, she will be able to take advantage of the benefits of WFH once the culture in her industry catches up.


  1. I've always worked from home, but usually under the "feel free to do as much more work at home as you want" dictum. Now that I have my own company I exclusively work from home and it makes so much sense. I save thousands of dollars a year on rent and I don't have to spend time trying to look presentable (unless I'm meeting a client) and driving somewhere. I also get to integrate my personal life and work much better. I work about 50 hours per week but it's spread out over 7 days and 16 hours per day.

    But many people can't handle this. They lose track of how much time they are actually working and end up goofing off. So I actually track the number of hours I'm working. On a typical week I work in about 50 different chunks of time, which may be as big as 5 hours or as small as 15 minutes.

    The big benefit is that when I'm working I'm working. Nobody is coming into my office to chit chat. Having previously worked in an office environment I can assure you that I am about twice as productive as I would be otherwise.

  2. That's very true. The more high earning your position the more you have to really buckle down and be disciplined in order to get the work done and continue to earn the trust of your employer.

    so call center guy earning median market value can probably sneak in a few hours of Halo; Self-employed or high salary earner, you probably need to have more accountability built into the WFH gig.


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