If you live in one of the metros that is constantly growing, it is a double edged sword. It is obviously encouraging because more companies move into the area and there are more jobs and opportunities and all the nice things that go with it but it also means that you are going to be sitting in traffic for a few hours everyday. Add to it a personality like mine that doesn’t really agree well with any form or length of commute, it will make it all the more challenging.
I’ve enjoyed working from home over the past several years despite some of its downsides. For starters, I am an extrovert and immensely enjoy interacting with people. As much as I enjoy software and am grateful to the way things actually panned out resulting in my picking that as a career, I have always wondered how life might have been if I were fortunate & qualified enough to become a lawyer or something along those lines. When you work from home, you miss out on a lot of interactions and tend to know your coworkers that much lesser. Sometimes, you get quite desperate that you don’t want to hang up even after a meeting is actually over. Yeah, can you believe it?!
Coding in the wee hours of the morning has always helped my thought process. I want to believe I like the quiet, sometimes.
Other than the part that involves interaction (or the lack of) with your coworkers, working remotely may not necessarily help if you are looking to grow in your career at an organization because when you don’t get to see anyone, they don’t get to see you as well. Of course, if the entire team is working remotely, this may not play a role. But, it is hard to argue that you may want to be onsite at least in the early stages of your career.
What I do like about working remotely is the flexibility it brings to the table and the shift in focus it mandates. I’ll explain what I mean by that. Given that my company does both Time and Materials contracts along with Fixed Price work, I’ve had to make constant changes in the way I work primarily from a logistics standpoint. Fixed Price work is exciting in some ways because you have a target in mind and you constantly march towards it. While you keep the client constantly updated with your progress, you still work in isolation for the most part with the interacting mainly limited to the members of your team (not so much the client’s). Time and Materials requires a slightly different work model as one of its primary differences is that the time needs to be logged. When you are onsite, it is much easier as you go in at a certain time and leave at a certain time so you know how much time you spent at work. When you are remote, this requires a lot of discipline. I’ve done this for many years now so it has become a practice but I do work with other remote resources (offshore and onshore) who tend to find this challenging from what they’ve told me.
The fact that you end up working more (remote) hours that you actually bill your client for isn’t discouraging in anyway. It tends to make you feel happier!
Ultimately, and just like everything else, it comes down to personal preference and options that are available but the ideal work environment for me would be something that supports remote work primarily with some onsite work, as and when necessary. I’ve tried to enjoy the commute when I’ve had to do it by listening to music, trying not to think about things and yada, yada, yada, but my honest, first thought (and I am a very firm believer in that uncorrupted first thought as the ones after that tend to become rational because of past experience and aren’t necessarily true reflections of what you truly, truly feel) has been that I would rather spend these valuable minutes doing actual software related work instead of aimlessly staring at the bumper in front.
In an ideal world, I would be at the client site when I need to present my proof of concept, or do a presentation, or iron out some architectural issues, or close a deal with me (and my team) doing most of the actual work remotely. That would be perfect. I’ve had the pleasure of working in that capacity over the last several years (thanks to my clients!) and pray that it remains an option in the years to come.
Ultimately, I believe that we all work to the best of our abilities when we are allowed the freedom to think in a space we value most (be it onsite or offsite or at a coffee shop!) with the primary objective being the necessity to get the job done in the best possible manner.
— krish @ http://www.snowpal.software