The Virtual Office Space

With transportation costs skyrocketing and connectivity costs lowering, more and more people are going to start working remotely instead of traveling to and from a place of business every day. This might take the form of employees working from home on Friday, consultants not traveling to clients sites every week or even people working from a different city from the rest of their team.

Steven Merrill, Director of Devops
#Phase2 | Posted

With transportation costs skyrocketing and connectivity costs lowering, more and more people are going to start working remotely instead of traveling to and from a place of business every day. This might take the form of employees working from home on Friday, consultants not traveling to clients sites every week or even people working from a different city from the rest of their team. I recently relocated to a city founded by the Germans in 1904 and wanted to share my initial experiences with working remotely for a company that’s on the other side of the country.With transportation costs skyrocketing and connectivity costs lowering, more and more people are going to start working remotely instead of traveling to and from a place of business every day.

This might take the form of employees working from home on Friday, consultants not traveling to clients sites every week or even people working from a different city from the rest of their team. I recently relocated to a city founded by the Germans in 1904 and wanted to share my initial experiences with working remotely for a company that’s on the other side of the country. As you can probably imagine, the biggest challenge with working remotely is communicating with the other members of my team.

Even when I was working in the office, I frequently used instant messaging to ask quick questions such as what changes someone else made to a piece of code or to obtain additional information about a requirement I didn’t quite understand. Having a company culture that hinges on asking quick questions via IM as they come up is one of the keys to working remotely.

I can continue the same work habits I had in the office while working 3,000 miles away from everyone else. Having a bureaucratic work environment where all decisions need to be made by committee at large meetings would certainly make working remotely a much larger challenge. And having the right tools like video chat and the ability to share your desktop with someone at the office certainly helps improve communication.

Another thing to consider before you ask your boss to work from home once in a while is how you will stay focused and motivate yourself to get your work done. Fortunately I have the house to myself during the day, but if you have 3 kids (or 3 dogs for that matter) running around all day, how will that affect your productivity?

It’s important to set up a home office in a location where you won’t be distracted by the television or whatever else might take you away from your work. And while it might seem like having the flexibility to get your work done at your own pace is a nice benefit, I’ve found that trying to get the majority of my work done during normal business hours is the most productive approach for me.

Otherwise, I find myself trying to finish up too many tasks during the evening when I’m more tired and anxious to move on to something other than work! And finally, make sure that you have the necessary access to systems needed to get your job done from outside the office.

Can you connect to all the servers you need to? Do you need VPN software to access the corporate intranet or email? Can you forward your phone calls to a cell phone or home phone? There’s nothing worse than not coming into the office on Friday only to discover that you can’t access the server you need to work on all day long! Working remotely is a great option for someone who is motivated to make it work by keeping the lines of communication open with those back in the office and delivering the same quality of work that he or she produced while in the office.

And it sure beats working in a cube all day long trying to avoid Lumbergh asking you to come in on Saturday!!!

Steven Merrill

Director of Devops