Home is where the office is
For those not familiar with the term telecommuting, has Greek origins with tele meaning distant and commute to travel. Commuting from a distance. This is not your typical commute, but instead performed remotely to an office using communication tools such as telephone or in my case, a computer.
My experience as telecommuter
Graduating from Virginia Tech back in 2005, you may be asking if I have always been a telecommuter since joining the work force? The answer is a sort-of-no. I started out working for a graphic design / web development company in North Carolina, Imp Designs. I would drive an hour up to Raleigh everyday to work at a great office with great people. Unfortunately, about two months into the job, the first major gas price spike hit. Graciously, I asked my boss if it would be alright to work remotely from home two days of the week, which he allowed because he new my work ethic.
Skip a year later and my wife and I moved back home to Virginia. I started at an advertising agency and worked there for a month before I figured out it was not where I wanted to be. During this time, I was freelancing for a company called RecCenter, which at the time was trying to build a music social network to rival that of PureVolume. They ended up asking me to do a full time gig remotely and I quickly jumped on board at that opportunity. This was the start of my official telecommuting lifestyle.
Since then, I’ve gone from freelancing for a while, to working again for Imp Designs and now for the past two years worked for RealTravel — which just got purchased by UpTake, all of which I have done telecommuting.
How do I do it?
It takes discipline.
Working from home can definitely be a distraction. From the television to what can seem like more free time to taking care of household chores, any one of those factors can come into play. It took a while to get used to this, but eventually fell into a routine that works well.
With the introduction of video chat cameras and the screen share ability, I am able to keep in contact with my coworkers. Everyday at 1pm, we have a standup meeting in which I video conference into. If I need some help with some code or run into a bug, I can easily talk to my coworkers through instant messenger or screen share to pair program.
Working from home can have a plethora of benefits. I have found that a typical work day of 8+ hours can be squeezed into 5-6 hours. I say this because if you look at the typical office work day, it is riddled with distractions from office meetings about when to have office meetings to co-workers gossip. I also do not take the normal hour long lunch break, but instead usually grab a quick bite to eat.
Time. I have also found that it has given me a more leisurely morning. Currently my wife leaves the house around 6am to take her hour drive to work. We have two daughters under the age of two — I should take back the word “leisure” and replace it with “invigorating.” Telecommuting allows me to get them off to daycare within a reasonable time and then get back to clean up the house where the tornados came through.
Money. Telecommuting has also offered some money saving benefits. No longer do I drive the hour plus to work, but instead make the ten second walk to the home office. I also rarely eat out for lunch, except for my lunch fridays. Granted, being at home may use more energy, but that is incomparable to the amount of energy I used to drive back and forth to work.
Another thing I like about working from home is the environment. I am now free to move about the house and work wherever I want. If it is a nice day outside, I can be found on the back deck. Having the change of atmosphere makes the work environment more enjoyable instead of sitting at the same desk day in, day out.
Some draw backs
One of the biggest draw backs I have run across from doing telecommuting so long is the human interaction. Sometimes I definitely yearn for that face to face contact that came with the everyday office work. Luckily, my job now allows me to travel out to them once every quarter to get that much needed face time.
Living in a rural part of Virginia, internet is hard to come by. It took some back and forth with the only ISP in the area to get service to the house. Even now that we have internet, there are some days it just decides to quit. When this occurs, I find myself switching into nomad-mode and heading to the closest coffee shop or library.
Time again. With working from home, there isn’t a set work schedule, unless you make one. I have found a couple of times that I work later into the evening than typical. Sometimes working from home there are things out of your control in that push the start of your work day later. As long as I get my work done, I feel that this is not a problem.
Trust is another key factor that comes with the territory of telecommuting. The company you work for must have complete trust in your work ethic. The relationship between the company and yourself goes a long way if you can show them you are a diligent hard worker.
Is it right for you?
Telecommuting is not for everyone. It takes time to adjust to the different work schedule, the solo work environment and the distractions that come with being at home.
My wife, before she went back to working at her plant, was able to work from home for about ten months in a recruiting job. We were lucky to have this opportunity as at the time she was pregnant with our second daughter. She was hesitant to start telecommuting because she had never done it before and worried about not being in a physical office to have the discipline of working solo. She did it with flying colors and I now miss the daily lunch dates we had.
Another big part to telecommuting is buy-in from your company. Luckily the jobs I have had have been nothing but open arms to using telecommuting. This may partly be due to the field I am in, because my wife, as an HR Manager, needs to physically be around people to do her job; I myself just need a computer.
So with that said, telecommuting has been a blessing for my career. With what ever other endeavors come my way in the future, I know I will always love to entertain the idea of telecommuting.