Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Home work

Have I mentioned in this space that I work from a home-based office?

I do so now because I happened upon a discussion board online yesterday debating the pros and cons of doing so, and since I've been doing this for nearly eight years, I'll provide my own mini pro-and-con treatise on this subject.

First, and foremost, when I joined my current company, I was told that this was the way things were done unless one lived relatively close to a company office.  So, for me, there was really no choice.  I would be supplied with a cellphone, a computer and a fax machine/printer combination, as well as Internet connectivity (first from a dial-up connection and later from a cable Internet account).  I was lucky in that I had spent the prior three and a half months doing some consulting work from a home-based office as well, so I was already used to the whole scenario.

My first day on the job was probably the most awkward, as I started on a Monday in mid-October 2003.  I arose, took a shower and sat down at my desk.  And had absolutely nothing to do, but to wait for my new boss to call me and advise on what he wanted me to do.  Possibly most amazing was that he didn't really have anything in mind until he scheduled a meeting to which we'd both travel the following week.

This work at home stuff is going to be pretty good, I thought to myself.

As I got further into the routine of walking from the bedroom to the office (which would be our dining room otherwise), it became just that--a routine.  And that's not a bad thing, but sometimes it's easy to develop bad habits.  The kitchen is close by, so that's not always a good thing.  But the treadmill is just upstairs, so that kind of balances it out.  And with my work environment being so convenient, it's easy to return to the office for "a few minutes" after dinner or on the weekend just to "clean up a few things," as I'm apparently fond of saying.

So here are the pros and cons, as promised:

PRO

Flexibility of scheduling
No dress code
Ability to multitask with personal tasks mixed with work duties
Computer equipment and Internet connection provided by company

CON

Must be self-reliant at just about all times
Little face-to-face contact with colleagues
Ability to work too much is a temptation
Distractions (TV, videos, kitchen) are readily at hand

With all of that said, I'd say that working at home is probably worth an extra $15K to me annually, meaning that if I were offered a similar position that required me to report to an office for regular hours, I'd probably need an extra $15K to make it worthwhile.

After this long, I am used to the pros and cons, so there really aren't any surprises left.  And I suppose that working at home is something of a payoff for the amount of traveling that my job requires me to do, so there's that.

So, if you happen to drive by my house on a warm spring day and see a guy mowing his lawn in what appears to be a pretty big hurry, that'd be me, trying to use my lunch break constructively!

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