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Dave Beans

Working From Home

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Is it all its cracked up to be? The bonus is a 3 second commute, but do you go nuts after a while?

Not much scope for Ugandan discussions, see TMT's post.

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You go nuts.

You actually work harder and put in more hours. None of that water cooler talk or nipping off for meetings and wasting time.

Those in the office begin to hate you, are convinced that you are a slacker and at least one person will start to undermine you without you knowing it.

A classic technique is when you have the occasional doctor or dentist appointment or are taking the car to leave at a garage for a service. You will tell people that you won't be available for that hour and, guess what, someone will call you or arrange a meeting at that time just to try and portray you as someone not actually working.

You will then be called at all hours - first thing in morning, late into the evening. This affects your relaxation period as you begin to never switch off. Your brain is always waiting for that phone to ring, or that text or that email. This leads to serious health problems brought on by stress.

Companies save tens of thousands per desk in most cities so they win win and you lose lose by working from home.

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You go nuts.

You actually work harder and put in more hours. None of that water cooler talk or nipping off for meetings and wasting time.

Those in the office begin to hate you, are convinced that you are a slacker and at least one person will start to undermine you without you knowing it.

A classic technique is when you have the occasional doctor or dentist appointment or are taking the car to leave at a garage for a service. You will tell people that you won't be available for that hour and, guess what, someone will call you or arrange a meeting at that time just to try and portray you as someone not actually working.

You will then be called at all hours - first thing in morning, late into the evening. This affects your relaxation period as you begin to never switch off. Your brain is always waiting for that phone to ring, or that text or that email. This leads to serious health problems brought on by stress.

Companies save tens of thousands per desk in most cities so they win win and you lose lose by working from home.

I take it, it wouldn't be any different if you were self-employed...

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I take it, it wouldn't be any different if you were self-employed...

No, more likey worse - especially if you are a contractor... because we all know that self-employed contractors are scum on the fiddle don't we as far as a lot of permies are concerned.

Bottom line, if you go to work to do an 8 hour day in an office you probably work for about 5 hours and spend 3 hours having tea, chatting in corridors, doing very little.

If you work from home your 8 hour day becomes 10 or 12 hours. At the very least you will work the full 8 hours. You become glued to your computer and develop a hunched back, tight chest and back muscles and get long-term health risks. You remind yourself to get up and go for a walk and exercise your heart, lung and eyes but, in practice, you don't. Your posture and general health goes to bits.

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If you work from home your 8 hour day becomes 10 or 12 hours. At the very least you will work the full 8 hours. You become glued to your computer and develop a hunched back, tight chest and back muscles and get long-term health risks. You remind yourself to get up and go for a walk and exercise your heart, lung and eyes but, in practice, you don't. Your posture and general health goes to bits.

I'm thinking 'Allotment'

But, there again, I usually do.

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If you work from home your 8 hour day becomes 10 or 12 hours. At the very least you will work the full 8 hours. You become glued to your computer and develop a hunched back, tight chest and back muscles and get long-term health risks. You remind yourself to get up and go for a walk and exercise your heart, lung and eyes but, in practice, you don't. Your posture and general health goes to bits.

Yup to all this. I've worked mostly from home for the last 10 years and have the back/posture problems, and general unfitness to show for it. If you can afford it, get yourself a variable height desk that you can set at standing height, so you can spend at least half the day on your feet. Planning your time is harder too as there's always distractions, and it does get lonely. ( i live on my own)

It probably slightly more bearable for me as I'm working on my start-up, so work is on my mind most of my waking hours anyway, and of course I have no boss or co-workers to worry about. Plus I'm in London zone 2, and very sociable, so it's easy to get out and see friends or join clubs/meetups to get my social fix.

Overall it's not ideal.. though if you have the chance to try it, I'd give it a go.. it might suit you well, depending on what you do for a living..

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You go nuts.

You actually work harder and put in more hours. None of that water cooler talk or nipping off for meetings and wasting time.

Those in the office begin to hate you, are convinced that you are a slacker and at least one person will start to undermine you without you knowing it.

A classic technique is when you have the occasional doctor or dentist appointment or are taking the car to leave at a garage for a service. You will tell people that you won't be available for that hour and, guess what, someone will call you or arrange a meeting at that time just to try and portray you as someone not actually working.

You will then be called at all hours - first thing in morning, late into the evening. This affects your relaxation period as you begin to never switch off. Your brain is always waiting for that phone to ring, or that text or that email. This leads to serious health problems brought on by stress.

Companies save tens of thousands per desk in most cities so they win win and you lose lose by working from home.

This does all sound so familiar. I think it probably also depends on what the role is.

I'm a self employed IT developer/consultant.

When we moved down here, I did actually take a full time role with a company about half an hour's drive away.

I maintained that I wasn't prepared to drive that far each day and so would work from home. This was the basis on which the job was offered.

When you've been self-employed, you can relate your income to your effort. This doesn't hold true in full time employment. Although this film is about an IT consultant, this holds true for everyone...

The boss in this role was the suspicious type and a certain amount of harp playing began about number of hours spent and me coming into the office more often.

IT is like anything else in that to have a product to sell you have to develop it first which requires months or years to build up. The boss seemed to think that it was my duty to work extra hours in order to effect that even though I wasn't a shareholder.

And my attitude in every role I've ever had is - 5pm is finish time (or whatever). I'm off. That's when I'm paid to. It never stopped me being promoted and because I was assertive about that and refused to be challenged or to change, nobody had that expectation.

Except this guy, and that and some other reasons were why we fell out and I went back to being self-employed again.

A few rules:

Never, ever give clients your mobile number. Indeed that's probably true for employers as well. One guy at that place simply maintained that he did not own a mobile. Nobody believed him, but that's not relevant. If work supply you with one, leave it charging on your desk when you go home. Do not take it with you.

Have a separate number for work and that should only ring in the "office room". If you use VOIP you can have it divert to a message out of hours so it doesn't even ring.

Have a separate work email address. Do not pick up that mailbox on your mobile.

Try to stick to fixed hours at your desk. You think at first you won't have the motivation but you will if you can turn off distractions (e.g. partner goes off to work so house is empty). The routine becomes easy like any other job.

In IT, have an SLA with clients which dictates how quickly you'll get back to them. I use a ticketing system to keep track of everything which helps with this. No SLA, no expectation - quite literally, nothing can ever be "urgent". I will not make a commitment to be available to you if you do not make a financial commitment to me. If a client with an SLA has something urgent it will send me an SMS to my personal mobile, so I can service that without being exposed to everyone calling whenever.

In IT but this might apply to other jobs - don't go near any 24/7 aspect. In IT this is web hosting. Margins are crap relative to the need to be "on call" 24/7. You can't do it, it will burn you out. Helps if your clients are larger SMEs with their own servers. At that employer, there was out of hours support which all seemed to go to one guy. I was never asked, because the answer would have been No. I think he was a shareholder though. It's the only reasonable explanation.

It *can* work but everything TMT says is so easy to lapse into. I've actually just finished fixing a couple of things for a client because I'm running late because I took a couple of days out last week and need to get back on track. Bath and bed now :)

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I work from home now and again, mostly when there's a ton of fresh snow outside or I got called at 4am because something broke and I don't then feel like getting up at 8am and going into the office after that. It's good to be able to do when you want to, but there's a greater incentive to think 'oh, i forgot to do that, I should log in and do it before I forget' at eight in the evening rather than wait for the next day as you would if you had to be in the building to do so.

I wouldn't want to do it all the time.

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I work from home - although I do go to the office once a week. I've been doing it for about a year.

Personally, it works very well for me - although I recognise the dangers TMT describes. It means I get to do pretty much my dream job in my dream location.

You do have to be disciplined. I make sure get away from my desk at least once a day for half an hour and out into the local countryside for a walk, run or cycle - sometimes I do so more than once. I will also usually do the Scientific 7 workout - really as a way of getting the energy going in during slacker periods. Although I live in the sticks (nearest town is 4 miles away) I don't have a car - so there is always the need to pick up some shopping, if I need an excuse for exercise.

Have fun with it - I have done catch ups with people while strolling across the fields or running up the local hill. You don't have stay confined to barracks. We have these wonderful devices nowadays which mean you can actually work while out and about.

Make sure you have a proper workstation set up for your build/needs- perched on the sofa leaning over a laptop is a recipe for disaster.

It suits my preferred working style very much. I might start work around 6-7am - do a few hours of decent work, then my meetings might begin. Around 2pm I might go out for an hour and half run. I take the mobile in case there's something urgent - there never is.

According to those who have seen me before and after - they reckon I'm looking slimmer and fitter. I was never fat - but I did have tendency when I worked in the office to nip out for a treat from the bakery a few lunchtimes a week. Now, I have to run or cycle a few miles to pick up a similar treat so I've either earned it or decide I don't want it.

Very few people know my mobile - and they know only to text it in emergencies. The landline gets switched off at 5pm. I've trained most people to expect the best response by contacting me by email - nearly all emails are responded to within a working day (but I don't do the always checking email thing).

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I'm thinking 'Allotment'

But, there again, I usually do.

That's the one.

Or housework if it's too cold and wet to go to the allotment for half an hour. *shudders*

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You go nuts.

You actually work harder and put in more hours. None of that water cooler talk or nipping off for meetings and wasting time.

Those in the office begin to hate you, are convinced that you are a slacker and at least one person will start to undermine you without you knowing it.

A classic technique is when you have the occasional doctor or dentist appointment or are taking the car to leave at a garage for a service. You will tell people that you won't be available for that hour and, guess what, someone will call you or arrange a meeting at that time just to try and portray you as someone not actually working.

You will then be called at all hours - first thing in morning, late into the evening. This affects your relaxation period as you begin to never switch off. Your brain is always waiting for that phone to ring, or that text or that email. This leads to serious health problems brought on by stress.

Companies save tens of thousands per desk in most cities so they win win and you lose lose by working from home.

I can relate to this. I work part time from home, and live abroad as well, so it's doubly isolating. However, with a bit of physical and mental self discipline it's not too bad. I make sure I go cycling every morning, have a proper lunchbreak, and do physical exercises on the hour, every hour (an easy way to fit 80 press ups into your daily routine!). I'm also disciplined enough that when 5pm comes, the screen goes off, and work's over.

The great advantages are you don't have to commute. Although in my latter commuting days I cycled and enjoyed it, doing 16 miles a day five days a week in all weathers was a bit of a strain sometimes. You also avoid a lot of the office politics and you don't have to spend money on smart clothing. The fundamental advantage, of course, was that I was able to move from London to a foreign country with a much lower cost of living where my outgoings are far less. For the first time in life I'm actually making serious money - while doing less work!

I think you have to take care of your mental health also. It's easy to slip into paranoia about what they're thinking about you in the office, and to misinterpret emails and phone calls because of the lack of body language etc. It's frustrating sometimes not to be able to discuss things in person with people. I do agree with the undermining thing - elements of that have happened - and I do sense a little bit of resentment from some colleagues that I'm not working 'properly'. At the end of the day though, screw them - unless the CEO formally takes me up on it, I'm not going to worry about it.

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How are you guys finding the work from home gigs?

Even in IT, it's pretty difficult to find anyone who will agree to this. I could freelance, but that also seems hard to get a good stream of ongoing work.

I would LOVE to work from home and have some location independence.

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Guest eight

NSFW (unless you W at home)...

I was hoping somebody would post that. It's basically the reason none of my brilliant business ideas ever get off the ground.

Edit: Spelling - that's what happens when you type one handed.

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Is it all its cracked up to be? The bonus is a 3 second commute, but do you go nuts after a while?

In practise you don't spend that much time at home, in my case visiting customers and doing work on their premises, my office is often the public library (for housepricecrash posting too) of which I have unlimited choice.

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How are you guys finding the work from home gigs?

Even in IT, it's pretty difficult to find anyone who will agree to this. I could freelance, but that also seems hard to get a good stream of ongoing work.

I would LOVE to work from home and have some location independence.

I did it in stages. First I moved to a regional office, and made that work well. Then started doing the odd day working from home when I had a particular rush on. Then said I was moving to x - can I work from home. Admittedly the last bit was a bit of a risk, but my manager had been expecting it after a couple of years of seeding the idea.

Demonstrating you are self sufficient will help. I never complain about the IT etc - just sort it out myself or find work arounds. Desk, chair and work place ergonomics the same. That keeps various peeps onside. The other thing is that I make sure I'm super responsive to communications - if you email me - I'll get back to you within a working day, phone me, it'll be same day. Anything for my manager is always delivered in advance of deadline.

Tim Ferris' book - The Four Hour Work Week is also helpful in this regard. You might also find 37 Signals' Remote is also worth a read.

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I did it in stages. First I moved to a regional office, and made that work well. Then started doing the odd day working from home when I had a particular rush on. Then said I was moving to x - can I work from home. Admittedly the last bit was a bit of a risk, but my manager had been expecting it after a couple of years of seeding the idea.

Demonstrating you are self sufficient will help. I never complain about the IT etc - just sort it out myself or find work arounds. Desk, chair and work place ergonomics the same. That keeps various peeps onside. The other thing is that I make sure I'm super responsive to communications - if you email me - I'll get back to you within a working day, phone me, it'll be same day. Anything for my manager is always del

Tim Ferris' book - The Four Hour Work Week is also helpful in this regard. You might also find 37 Signals' Remote is also worth a read.

Just out of interest, what do you actually do?

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How are you guys finding the work from home gigs?

Even in IT, it's pretty difficult to find anyone who will agree to this. I could freelance, but that also seems hard to get a good stream of ongoing work.

I would LOVE to work from home and have some location independence.

I offered to downsize from full time to 3 days a week on the condition I could do it from home. I knew the company was having a few financial difficulties (they're in better shape now) and thought it was worth asking. The first stage was to work 'remotely' in the office basement for a month to see how it worked (I was like the Milton guy in 'Office Space' who gets put in the cellar!) then once that worked ok I did the big move abroad.

Depending on what your line of work is, there is quite a lot of freelance online work available, but you would need to live somewhere with a low cost of living otherwise you'd struggle. I've picked up some freelance work through word of mouth without even asking for it, so I think if I actually tried I could probably get enough to scrape by on if my main job falls through.

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Just out of interest, what do you actually do?

Without being too specific, I manage a team vaguely involved in publishing (sizeable IT component as well as other elements to the work though). Austin's response makes me laugh as I also worked in a basement on my own (with only the occasional staff member passing through) for a couple of years. I guess it was good training.

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Part and part is best....working from home, but visiting an office/client or get out of the house for say two days a week....it all boils down to trust, a slacker, procrastinator in an office would not be a suitable candidate.....but there are many that can be trusted to do what they say they will do and are better placed to achieve and exceed any targets set for them independently. ;)

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Without being too specific, I manage a team vaguely involved in publishing (sizeable IT component as well as other elements to the work though). Austin's response makes me laugh as I also worked in a basement on my own (with only the occasional staff member passing through) for a couple of years. I guess it was good training.

Sounds like it could become a euphemism for working from home, in time. Where's Stainlesssteelcat today? He's "in the basement".

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I work from home one Friday a fortnight. The other Fridays I don't work at all. So max 4 days in the office a week is great. I wouldn't want to work from home permanently, I like the distinction between the office (=work) and home (=my home).

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If you work from home your 8 hour day becomes 10 or 12 hours. At the very least you will work the full 8 hours. You become glued to your computer and develop a hunched back, tight chest and back muscles and get long-term health risks. You remind yourself to get up and go for a walk and exercise your heart, lung and eyes but, in practice, you don't. Your posture and general health goes to bits.

I know all about that. My strategy was to try and relax by reading HPC, but after 8 years I'm beginning to suspect that it really doesn't help.

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