Tell me your telecommuting experiences ...

We’re having serious management changes at the office. The old manager was very micro-managing, but the new one is more “do what you want as long as the work gets done.” Almost all of our work is done via internet and email anyway, and the new manager doesn’t see the need in paying rent on so much office space, when we could all be doing it from home anyway.

So, it looks like by June I’ll be telecommuting full time. I’m wondering what others’ experiences are doing this. Are there any particular pitfalls I should watch out for? Unseen side benefits? Tell me all about it.

I’m a computer programmer who lives 60 miles from the office. I am not allowed to telecommute full-time, but I can work at home whenever my private life (doctor’s appointments, car trouble, etc) or bad weather make it seem like a good idea.

The first and only pitfall I ran into was my wife, who is a real estate agent and is at home a lot during the day. It took a while to convince her that I needed to be left alone.

Most days at home are more productive for me than days in the office. I don’t spend any time bullshitting about politics or sports, I don’t have to deal with drive-by technical questions, and I tend to work more than eight hours when I’m home. I am hopeful that I’ll telecommute full-time in the future. Congratulations on your good fortune.

I don’t personally telecommute, but I have a friend who did. Sounds like you’ll need to have a lot of self-discipline to make sure you actually get out of bed on time and don’t take too many breaks, but on the plus side you get to work in your jammies!

Mr. Athena and I both telecommute.

I love it. I can’t imagine going back to a job that requires me to go to the office. I think it’s a good situation for both employee and employer, if the job fits. Some jobs require more personal interaction between employees, and I’m guessing those don’t fit into the telecommute model as well as solitary jobs.

I don’t have any problem with motivation when working at home. In fact, it’s the opposite. I do have a local office, and occasionally work there. When I’m there, it’s hard for me to get over the attitude of “I’m in the office, therefore I’m working.” As you all know, there’s a ton of stuff you can do in an office that isn’t work - gabbing with co-workers, surfing the web, etc.

At home, I’m much more vigilant over what is “work” and what isn’t. Things like yakking with the hubby for 20 minutes over mid-morning coffee cause me to work an extra 20 minutes somewhere else in the day. I can’t say the same is true if I’m in the office and start yakking with a coworker.

Also, as a programmer, loooong stretches of time without interruption are like gold to me. Even though we have a small office, I never get the same stretch of time there. Our office walls are like tissue paper, and I hear everything that goes on even if it’s not directed at me. It’s particularly annoying with some especially vocal coworkers.

I tend to be more project oriented at home, too. I don’t pay a lot of attention to how many hours I put in every day, I pay attention to whether or not the work gets done.

I do, on a part time basis much like Crotalus described - when it makes sense for me to do so based on what’s going on in my private life.

Frankly, I end up working a lot longer and harder when I telecommute - it’s a guilt thing, I think. One of the biggest benefits, though, is that the husband leaves me alone, the son is in school, and when I’m working on a project that requires real concentration, home is the place to do it. I could NEVER get that level of concentration at the office (and at times, it’s necessary what with payroll things, etc.)

I’ve been doing it full time for over a year. It can be very isolating, but if you take steps to ensure your human contact, you’ll be fine. I can’t tell if you’re a woman or not, but I am totally bumming about the “no need for cute clothes” factor. I’m dying to buy adorable shoes, but if I don’t work in an office, I truly have no place to wear them. Sigh…

Also, they will need a plan for getting you IT help when shit goes south. Sometimes you can bring your equipment into the office (if it is company issued) but some places make you use your own PC.

You can write off your phone, computer hook up, some electric, gas, office supplies, and the room you use (if it’s solely for work) on your taxes. WooHOO! Talk to your tax guy about the details on that.

I work full time at home. Mostly I love it…I don’t have to buy as much gas for one thing, or spend as much money on business casual clothing, eating lunch at home instead of in restaurants is cheaper. Sleeping in later is nice too. What I don’t like about it, though, is the lack of coworkers. Well, I like the lack of SOME coworkers, but I miss the ones that I actually enjoyed working with. I’ve worked at home ever since moving here, so I haven’t been able to make any new friends here…all I have are my husbands’ friends and my inlaws. So, I need to join a club or take some classes or something to get my butt out of the house.

I also feel a little marginalized too…but that’s because I’m 1300 miles away from the office. So, I don’t get to participate in holiday parties or other activities. I don’t get to be on various committees and stuff like that. My supervisor tries to do things to make me feel as appreciated as the on-site people, but a $5 Subway gift card and a smooshed Nut Goodie isn’t quite as nice as a catered holiday dinner or a night at the bar with my pleasantly insane coworkers.

Also, it’s tough to not get distracted by home stuff. It helps to have a room set aside as your office, and do not leave it unless you’re taking a scheduled break. It’s also good to try and create a new routine to replace the old one of commuting to the office, getting coffee, etc., before sitting down at your desk. I get up, work out, shower, feed and water the cats and clean their litterbox, and then it’s time to work, then I take my scheduled breaks.

You might have some trouble with friends and family…make sure you let them know that working at home is the same as working in an office…they can’t just pop over and chat, and they can’t call you all the time, and no, you can’t run their errands or watch their children.

I’ll second what Mishell said: you really have to make it clear to people that you WORK during the day, and they can’t just drop by whenever they want.

We even take it a step further, with both of us working at home. We started out in a smaller house and our offices were right next to each other. We drove each other nuts. I had to walk through Mr. Athena’s office to get to mine, and we could hear each other on the phone and such and it was just not a good arrangement. When the time came to buy a new house, one major feature we looked for was a place where we could put our offices faaaar apart, and where normal things like going to the restroom or kitchen wouldn’t disturb the other person. This works out much better.

Mr. Athena misses the coworker thing more than I do. I’m more of a loner, and have never much been one for socializing with officemates. Still, it’s easier to make friends when you work in a social setting, and if we didn’t live someplace where we already had a lot of social contact through family stuff, we’d probably have to work hard to meet people.

Yes! This happened to me too. I telecommuted for a year and a half, and I really missed getting up every day and getting dressed in my cute office attire (cute skirts and tops, etc). The whole time I telecommuted, I spent 90% of my life in my pajamas; now while that might sound good to some, it didn’t work for me. I found I missed getting dressed and feeling like a real person.

Telecommuting did not work for me for many reasons. I just could not concentrate. The ability to take a nap in the middle of the day was too tempting. I need a specifically separate home area and work area or else the two bleed together too much. I hated not having the routine of getting up and leaving the house every day, and going to another place and seeing other people. I felt so isolated and it made me kind of depressed.

Now that I am back in the office, I feel much more productive (and I look good in all the great new clothes I bought!! :smiley: )

I know what you mean about turning into a complete grooming slacker. I still take a bath and do my makeup every day, but sometimes I don’t get to my hair (which Is why all you folks are so lucky we can’t see the people we Dope with).

I do take a nap. Every day for an hour. That’s my lunch hour. I eat while I work and then take a little snooze. It rocks!

Some jobs aren’t real intense with the personal demand, but I have one of those immediate response kind of jobs, so I literally sit at the desk for 8 hours. I can get up and grab a load of laundry, but I have to fold it at my desk. I can’t get dinner started for the most part, because I can’t watch it. It’s 100% work.

Heh. Not having to get out of my pajamas and never having to wear girl clothes is probably the perk I like the most about telecommuting.

Bummer. I love office clothes!

I’ve worked from home since I graduated college in 2001. I did my college internship at an office so I have a tiny bit of experience to compare it to, but not much.

The worst thing, as others have mentioned, is other non-coworker people in your life who just cannot wrap their brain around the fact that you are AT WORK, even though you’re at home. People really assume that you can come and go as you please, chat on the phone, go out and do stuff during the day, etc.

When I was living with my folks and working at home, it was too much to bear. First the problem was that they got home earlier than 5 and wanted to chat (usually conversations started with “I know you’re working, but…”). Then the problem was that my dad was on disability and wanted to chat ALL DAY. Or watched TV all day outside my door. I finally up and bought my own place to get away from it.

I’ve never had problems with wanting to nap or go off and watch TV. I think it’s because the way our business works is that we’re 100% virtual, thus it only works if I am in constant contact with my co-workers via IM. So I can’t really go take a nap, because everyone would notice I’m gone.

The one thing I would recommend that I find most helpful to me is to schedule yourself to do stuff - classes, workouts, walking, something - every day (or most days) so you have a reason to get up and “leave” work at a normal time. And it helps you get out of the house and mingle with other people. Even if you need to come home and turn the machine back on and get back to work at 10 PM, at least you “did” something today that wasn’t work.

I’ve worked at home for almost 3 years now. I can’t conceive of working in an office again.

I am not a hugely social person, and most of my work involves locking myself in a room for hours on end, anyway (writing, drawing, programming), so it’s perfect. I don’t miss the office interaction at all (even though I loved the people at my office). I just don’t need that much daily human contact.

I had no problem managing workload (i.e., forcing myself to get up, go to work, etc.). But I have had problems managing boundaries (i.e., stop working at 6PM; no, you may not call me at this time of day; yes, I am at the house, but no, I don’t have time to vacuum–I’m working).

Make sure you have an office space–preferably a separate room, where you will be undisturbed, and where you won’t feel bad about leaving work materials out at the end of the day (which you can’t do so much on the kitchen table).

Schedule flexibility is great (i.e., I have the liberty to leave from 3:30 to 4:30 to walk the dog, for instance), but make sure you/your spouse/your business associates don’t abuse it it too badly. Also, no matter how alternative your setup, people will expect to be able to reach you from 9-5 M-F, whether you want to work those hours or not.

Oh–and make sure you’ve duplicated everything from your real office in your home office:

  • fax machine
  • copy machine
  • high-speed internet
  • unlimited phone calling plan (I use Vonage, personally; you’re going to be calling people A LOT; make sure it’s all covered)

And learn all you can about UPS/FedEx/etc. in your area–they’ll pick up at people’s homes, too, so you don’t have to run out to find a drop-off area.

I agree with this. We are a ginormous company and prolly 1/3 to 1/2 work from home (just a guess). We are IM’ing our brains out all day long and it doesn’t work unless everyone is able to communicate. I can see my TV from my office, so I will have something on in the background all the time, but I have to tell my partner if I’m going to get the mail. You need to be here.

I work from home once and a while. I use Remote Desktop to get to my computer in the office. That, coupled with the fact that my desk phone rolls over to my cell phone, makes it just like I was sitting at my desk. I’d work from home all the time if I could, but my VP likes having me right down the hall so she can walk by and drop more work on me.

I’d love to have a full time work-at-home job one day. I don’t think I’d miss the mindless yammering of my coworkers one bit.

My main problem with telecommuting is that to do so I had to use my home computer which was streamlined for slacking. To do any work was a major struggle and I found that I put four hours into a task which would have taken me one at the office.

Secondly, as has been mentioned, doing so in a house which is not used to it can be quite difficult. For me, programming was like getting a train rolling in that I have to build up momentum and to be interrupted was a major hindrance.

It didn’t work out for me, but there are many who it does work for.

– IG