Posted by Tim Stobbs on February 20, 2014
My workplace is currently undergoing a bit of a shift since for years the entire department was centralized into one building, but that has recently changed and now there is staff across the entire province. So being the sucker for punishment that I am, I volunteered to do a presentation on working remotely for our next full department meeting in March.
Yet to make a good presentation I obviously needed to work from home myself to find out the pit falls and other issues that could come up. So my boss approved a half day experiment to give it a try. I choose last Friday for a very good reason, I had already planned to be off that afternoon and I also wanted to attend an school event from about 8am to 9am. Since I start normally at 7:30am, this obviously would normally been a bit of commuting nightmare, and hence my proposal of an half day experiment.
So overall I have to say I now fully get why people rave about working from home (or frankly anywhere but the office), you are WAY more productive when you aren’t in the office. Why? No interruptions with people asking you questions or stopping you mid sentence to discuss a completely unrelated issue. Despite my hour off at the school during my experiment I still managed to get the same half day amount of work done.
Yet of course there are downsides to doing this. The first thing I realized was that despite all this great technology to do this, our company still doesn’t have everything setup to be as productive as we could be when not in the office. The issue was certain programs were missing from our company VPN setup so there are limits on what you can work on when not in the office. It didn’t impact me much, but it could depending on the work someone needed to do.
Another fact that could come up for some people is you trade one set of distractions for another set. For example, my wife had kids at the daycare for that morning so I had a fair bit of giggling and the odd scream from small kids. I personally didn’t find it that hard to ignore, but I could see that being an issue if I had spent more time on the phone.
The last issue that came up was it happened to be literally the only time I can recall my Director asking me if I was in the office. She was off herself and needed something to be done by someone physically at the office and I couldn’t help. It wasn’t a huge deal as I suggested a few other individuals that could help, but it was ironic.
So overall I felt the entire experiment was a bit of success as it did make me more aware of what people who work remotely have to put up with and what they gain. I would work remotely again in a heartbeat as it is a great way to get some uninterrupted time in on a project.
What’s your experience with remote work? Have you done it yourself? If so, any other tips or observations? Obviously I never got to do this for a long period of time so I’m not sure what other impacts that come up.