Today is my first day working from home. I'll be entirely remote starting the month of November while my team is all in Dallas but we're doing some trial days while I'm still in the Lone Star State. There will be obvious challenges (face to face communication, whiteboarding, team lunches, etc) and some great perks (no commute, a bit more flexibility, homemade breakfast from my sweet wife, etc). The American workforce is trying to solve these problems for the sake of the benefits and we're making progress thanks to technology. Webcams, virtual whiteboards, and high quality conference calls all make it possible. The last frontier of remote work is not technological; it is psychological. So many people have an immediate reaction to my working remotely of "Oh, I could never do that. I wouldn't get anything done." Today I begin my quest to marry the best personal habits with the best technological practices.
Today, though I'm not in my permanent new office in our home in Lakewood, CO, I'm putting into place my first personal habit: visual orientation of office. I'm sitting at my desk in our one bedroom apartment. My back is to the rest of our apartment with with my laptop and little else before me. Headphones in. This means I won't get to watch the antics of our Golden Retriever or hear the adorable laughter of our 10 month old throughout the day. But it does mean I'll be able to focus, deliver value to my client, and help my team. Much less context switching.
The last frontier of remote work is not technological; it is psychological. Today I begin my quest to marry the best personal habits with the best technological practices.
My first hypothesis is that people fail at remote work because they aren't willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make it happen. Sacrifice and remote working?! I thought it was nirvana where I get to play with my puppy, my child, my wife and be super productive because I won't have the distractions of all those coworkers quietly working in their cubes next to me!
You can't have your cake and eat it to. My infant son is much more of a compelling reason to stop working and play then a coworker who wants to talk sports. Thus, I'm not going to put myself in a position where he can access me at his will. Our long term plan in Colorado is for one of the bedrooms to be my office. On a separate floor from the main one. It'll be quiet, sheltered, and productive.
What do I get? I get to commute from the 2nd floor to the 1st floor after work. I get to take a 30 minute lunch and play with my son instead of fighting lunch lines at Which Wich. I get play music on my Bose speakers instead of having to wear earbuds. I get much. But only if I can still be productive. Reward demand sacrifice.