Sunday, August 03, 2008

Working from Home

Back in June, I started working for a small engineering software company.

Really small. I am Employee #7.

My salary is much lower than what I was earning at my Corporate job, by a factor of about 1/3. But there are some key benefits that are worth far more than money ever could mean to me:

  • I'll own a stake in the company, and I can see how my hard work will contribute to the company's success.

  • I have the rare privilege of doing meaningful work for an ethical manager.

    After my own work experiences and witnessing all the struggles that several of my friends have gone through in the past few years, I started to believe that good jobs just didn't exist. So now I'm especially grateful to have a job where my boss respects me and I actually enjoy the work I'm doing. I get to do real engineering, without the paperwork and bureaucracy and politics that consumed 80-90% of my time at my previous jobs.

  • I get "six or seven weeks" of vacation!!! (My boss wasn't worried about the details when he offered me the job.)

    When I was working for the big Corporation, I had to use some of my precious vacation days to run errands or even to take a nap. Now that I have a flexible work schedule, I have no real need for six or seven weeks of vacation. My husband gets four weeks, so that's pretty much the upper limit for us to travel anyway. The real beauty of the whole situation is that I'm free from the stupid pettiness of tracking and hoarding half-days of vacation.

  • I get to work from home!!!

    In fact, the company has no central headquarters. Everyone works from home, and we're scattered across the country-- Massachusetts, Ohio, Iowa, and Colorado. (Future-Employee #8 lives in California.) We communicate with each other mostly by email and IMs, and our weekly staff meetings are on IRC. Sure, there are times when it would be easier if we could communicate face to face, instead of using GoToMeeting. But the upside of working from home is that there are fewer distractions-- no coworkers talking on their speakerphones, no need to trek to various ends of the building several times a day, and no mandatory meetings consuming 10-20 hours every week. I feel far, far more productive than I ever did living in cube-land.

    SIDEBAR: In my not-so humble opinion, cubicles may be one of the most evil, demoralizing inventions of all time. And don't even get me started on the new trend toward lower walls...

I've got to tell you, I really LOVE working from home. There are too many benefits to list them all, but here are some of my favorites:

  • I finally have an office with a window and a door. It's comfortable in a way that a cubicle could never, ever be.

  • I get to bring my dog to work with me. She naps under my desk while I'm working.

  • I sleep an hour later every day, and now I don't wake up every morning feeling like I've been hit by a truck! (I never realized how chronically sleep-deprived I really was.)

  • I can wear comfortable clothes, and I don't have to put on make-up or do my hair if I don't feel like it.

  • I eat healthier food for lunch, because now I'm not choosing between fast food or the cafeteria. There are no french fries in my kitchen, so I don't have to deal with that temptation at lunch time!

  • I have the flexibility to volunteer more of my time for things I feel passionate about (like getting 60 inner-city kids organized to go to camp) and I can go to yoga classes in the middle of the day. In fact, I usually work at my church on Thursdays-- Free coffee, free wireless, and free yoga!

In thinking about working from home, it occurred to me that for thousands of years, people worked in or near their homes. Whatever their trade or profession might be, they worked within walking distance of their homes. For many workers, it was normal to go home in the middle of the day for lunch and maybe even a siesta. So why on earth did we ever accept that a "normal" day should include an hour or more of road-rage and 8-10 hours spent sitting in a cube?

In the immortal words of Peter Gibbons:
We don't have a lot of time on this earth! We weren't meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements.

1 comment:

John said...

Sounds like a sweet gig. I hope it continues to work for you.