Nov 22, 2008

In The Office vs. Home

A few months ago I quit my job at the office to work for a startup, which has involved me working from home most of the time. I've worked at home before, and have sorta flip-flopped on how I feel about it. Here's my current analysis:

  • Flexibililty - If I have to go to some place that is only open on weekdays between 9 and 4, I don't have to rush during my lunch break. If I want to stay up late and sleep in, I don't have to wait for the weekend. I can take classes if I want.
    The flexibility of working at home is the main reason why I like it.
  • Freedom to Choose - I don't have to adhere to a particular software just because everybody else is using it. I can choose to work under Ubuntu with Vim instead of Windows and some IDE.
  • No commute - Well, there is a bit of a commute. I have to walk all the way from my bedroom to my computer room in the morning. Sometimes I even have to stop by the bathroom and the kitchen on the way, which means going really far out of my way since the computer room is next to the bedroom. Damn.
    This one is really awesome in the winter here in Montreal. No more having to jump from a metre-high snowbank into the bus, only to spend an hour and a half on a normally 15 minute bus route. No more having to walk down a frozen sidewalk because it is faster to walk from the metro line than take the bus.
  • Choose a time frame - One interesting thing about coding is that your good coding periods do not really occur at the standard working hours. Sometimes they might, other times maybe not. I don't really have a time when I'm most productive, it changes from day to day. Sometimes I can churn out some good stuff at midnight, other times at 11am. It depends on the day, and the office doesn't compensate for this.
  • Claim things on taxes - since I work at home, I can claim things like Internet and hydro on my taxes. Awesome, since in Quebec you get raped when the tax man comes around.
And now, the cons:
  • Takes self-discipline - There's a Wii with Rock Band in the other room. I have Starcraft installed. I have beer here. The temptation to do any of these is quite high when you're working at home. It takes some good self-discipline to not do these while you're working.
  • No boundary between work and play - When working in an office, you have a clear distinction between what is work and what is not - the location. When you're not at the office, you don't have to give a shit about work and can sit back and relax. For me, I always have this feeling that I haven't got enough work done, so even if I have done 40 hours for the week I feel like I can put more in. Doesn't give me much time to relax.
These are the ones I can think of right now. Anybody have anything else?


Michael S said...

Pro/Con (depends on your personality) working from home leaves you (literally) socially isolated. Even if you'd normally be working autonomously in an office, you'd still be surrounded by the social dynamic of everyone else around you. Working from home cuts down those incidental social contacts; leaving you with whatever you deliberately get out and make for yourself.

Rob Britton said...

You're right there, your social life is what you make of it. There are plenty of other social situations where you can meet people besides work. For example, the main people I hang out with other than roommates are people that I know through gaming clubs at local universities. Most of these clubs don't require you to be a student at the university, so long as you like games.