As many of you know, I work remotely for a company in Wisconsin. I've been working for them offsite on a part-time basis since August 2009, and started full-time in June 2010. 2014 Update: The post has been updated to reflect some changes over the past few years.
I've had many people question the "at-home" line of work, and what it really means. A lot of good questions, and more often, misconceptions, about working at home have come up, so I'd like to address those.
No; I get fully dressed every day. I try to keep a daily routine. I wake up at the same time I would normally, I shower, I get dressed, I make coffee, and I try to get to my desk by 8:00 AM. The only exception is that I don't wear "work" clothes; generally just a t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
2014 Update: I try to keep it business casual now that video conferencing has become more accessible and frequent.
No, I don't work whenever I want. Similar to the above, I try to work a consistent, normal schedule. Generally I work Monday — Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:00 or 5:00 PM (depending on if I take a lunch or not). Granted, I do have a little bit more flexibility with my schedule, but my employer tends to be really flexible to begin with.
Further more, just because I work at home doesn't mean I get to slack off. Actually, I tend to work more hours at home than I did when I was onsite (I work approximately 45 hours a week, compared to the 41 or 42 on site).
2014 Update: This is still relatively true, though my current employer is more flexible than any I've had. Love it!
I guess honestly, they don't. Besides the fact that the work gets done on time, I get constant phone calls, emails, and instant messages. There have been some
circumstances where I've had to flex my schedule a bit and work from my phone (e.g. when we were in the moving process), but I try to be as honest as possible on my timesheet.
2014 Update: Not that they have to keep tabs on me, but things like IM, audio and video calls, and more help my coworkers and teammates know when I'm around and what I'm up to.
The short answer to this would be: yes. There have been a few occasions where I've had to work in non-traditional places.
I recall one time in particular where I was sitting out in the grass on a nice sunny day and a plane flew overhead while I was in a phone conference (with coworkers, thankfully); they asked what that was, and I had to explain that I was enjoying then nice sunny weather. Honestly, though, the only reason I was doing this was because we were in the process of moving, and didn't have a real desk to sit at.
I have a desk and an office in my house, and I make full use of them.
2014 Update: with upgrades in my life, I have a true, dedicated office at the end of our house. While I could work just about anywhere, I definitely prefer the comfort of my own office.
I think I've managed well. I know how to effectively communicate (for the most part) through any medium. Under most circumstances, I find that I'm more productive out of the office than in, mainly because it's not as easy for people to come and ask me a question, interrupting whatever I'm working on. However, if there is an emergency, I'm very easy to get a hold of via phone.
Also, I like the "queue-like" nature of my current primary communication: email. A request comes in, and I can prioritize it without having to totally disrupt my workflow.
Funny story to go with this: I still get the occasional person that doesn't realize I work remotely. They'll call me asking if I can come and take a look at their problem, then I have to explain that I'm not actually there. Apparently, people must think I sneak-in in the morning, hide in back all day, and sneak-out when it's time to head home.
2014 Update: this has changed a lot. Communication has gotten much better, and we now have tons of options: email, IM, audio and video calls, screen sharing, whiteboarding, and more (thanks Lync!). The only limiting factor is the bandwidth that we're communicating on (which in most cases is okay, though it could be better).
Like I said, I tend to follow a fairly normal schedule. However, I do find that working remotely makes me a little more "on-call". There have been times where I've taken a work phone call as late as 8:00 PM. Also, I've worked as late as midnight before (not straight, but a 12-hour day is tough) due to a late-night emergency.
2014 Update: with getting better at remote work, and communicating with my teammates, it's pretty well known when I'm actually working. Outside of those hours, unless there is an urgent matter, email fills the gap for off hours.
There are a lot of things that I enjoy about working remotely. Here are a few in no particular order:
Even with working at home being as awesome as it is, there are still a few things I don't like:
If you have any other unanswered questions about my day-to-day of working at home, leave a comment.