Working from Home: The Costs

Have you considered working from home (or do you already work from home)?

I’ve worked from home for the last year or so. I go into the office for the occasional big meeting, but usually I just call in for those as well.

And I love working from home. I’m much more productive; I’m more comfortable; I eat better; and I’m never late to work.

But everyone can already imagine the benefits of working from home. Lately, I’ve been thinking about what I miss by being away from the office.

  1. Scuttlebutt. This doesn’t just mean who wore too much eye shadow at the Holiday Party, but also which projects are moving ahead and which are moribund. This information used to help me prioritize my workload, pushing back the dying projects for the thriving ones. Scuttlebutt also means hearing about projects at an early stage, rather than when everyone’s in a rush to finish. (Or hearing about those that I’d otherwise never find out about). In the office, I’d say, “I heard you mention a “Superchicken” project. Who’s doing the interface copy and help for that?” And the answer was usually, “um… we hadn’t thought about that.” When I’m at home, those people continue not thinking about the copy.
  2. Networking. We live in fluid times, so our co-workers today are our lifelines tomorrow.
    If I’m around, then I go to lunch with people, tell jokes with them (not about them), and generally remind them of my presence. If I’m not around, then… I’m not around. I’m just some guy they sort of remember working with. Will they recommend me for a job, or to NOT be laid off the next time a decision has to be made?
  3. Human interaction. At home, I sometimes realize that I haven’t actually spoken to anyone all day. (Or, at least since the kids left the house.) I also may not ever step outside. People mention what a beautiful day it was, and I think, “oh yeah, sunlight.”
    (I do have the option of taking a laptop to the park, or the pool. But it’s so hard to remember to do that!)

Does anyone else work from home and think about these things?

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2 Responses to “Working from Home: The Costs”

  1. Peter Martin
    December 7, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    Now when you get the NBN…… 🙂

    Have had a similar experience, with higher productivity (and a reference to prove it) but perhaps helped by a bit more travel to meet people from the office(s) in social settings as well as meetings.
    My feeling is that if things like Skype can be available more easily with fibre to the node, some of the disadvantages can be largely overcome.
    And offsetting the disadvantages, I get a stroll on a 14km beach any time I want it, being 5 minutes from the surf and river mouth.

  2. admin-Robert
    December 7, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    Re: The beach… from a work/life balance point of view, working from home is fantastic. And I, too, aim to be close to a beach some time in my near future (crossing fingers and toes).

    And I agree that once people get more used to being connected via video, some of the other issues won’t matter as much. I’m impatient!

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