Adventures in Working from Home

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February 17, 2015 by Mike Hillwig

Over the past several months, I’ve been on a client project that required me to work a lot of strange hours. And over the past few weeks, we’ve been getting a ton of snow here in Boston. These two things have led me to spend a lot of time working from home.

With the client project, I saw that I was working from home a ton, so I converted one of the spare bedrooms on the third floor of my house into a home office. It’s perfect. Basically, I just painted the room a color that conducive to working, and I moved the desk and most of my tech into that room.

What’s great about my space is that I have very few distractions. I do have my personal Mac Mini on the same desk, but I really only use it for personal email and Spotify while I’m working. My only real distraction is the window that lets me watch the planes landing over my house. As an aviation geek living near the airport, it does give me an opportunity to look up from my monitor every once in a while.

This is my little setup in the home office. It works well for me.

This is my little setup in the home office. It works well for me.

The worst part of working from my home is my officemates. They’re not always the most polite, but most of the noise they make is in the form of snoring. I just give them a treat from time to time, and they settle down.

Despite the occasional snoring, my officemates cause minimal disruptions.

Despite the occasional snoring, my officemates cause minimal disruptions.

Working from home isn’t for everyone. On the part of the employee, it requires a level of discipline that I didn’t know I had. Most of my colleagues who aren’t successful with working from home tend to try working from a dining room table or the couch. That wouldn’t work for me, either. But having my own office space makes it a lot more successful. The best part is that I have the same ammenities in my home office that I do at work. Since my company uses soft phones, the headset plugged into my laptop serves as my phone. It’s the exact same setup I have in the office.

What I’m learning is that working from home has a lot to do with the individual. But it also has a lot to do with the manager. In the past, I’ve worked for managers who were very uncomfortable with their people working from home. It turns out that they measured productivity by how much time they saw people at her/his desk. You can’t do that when someone isn’t physically in the office. My new boss completely gets it. He knows what his people do, and he knows how to measure our success. He sees the work that’s getting done, the direction being provided to offshore teams, and the clients being serviced.

I’m not sure I’m ready to ask my boss to let me work from home fulltime, but until this six feet of snow melts, it’s been nice knowing that I don’t have to go out in the storms.

The best part of working from home is that “going home” entails nothing more than a flight of stairs. And my commute is pretty awesome.