The last month has seen some major changes to my work environment. For one thing, I now work from home as part of a remote team. Not a lot of people know what that really means, so I'll layout the basics for you.
- I receive a list of tasks that I am responsible for completing, usually without direct supervision
- I work from home, or from coffee shops, or from the park near Lake Michigan. I can work from anywhere that I can get an internet connection.
- My workspace is completely customizable, because I don't work in an office. Therefore I can set it up to work and feel any way that I want.
When I say that I work from home, I don't mean that I'm making money by doing sixteen hours of Mechanical Turk tasks, nor am I filling out medical billing forms, or other menial tasks. I write software, specifically web applications for a number of customers, mostly in and around Illinois.
I'm a self-starter who is capable of holding myself accountable. That's important, because that means when I receive a list of tasks, I don't need someone watching over my shoulder to make sure I get them done on time, with the right level quality, or in the right order. However, that doesn't mean I work solo. I work collaboratively with team members, I check with my supervisor via a quick phone call or IM when I have questions, and those same people come to me when they need things from me. It works, it's simpler than most people realize, and most importantly it allows each of the team members the time and space necessary to concentrate on their work without a lot of office distractions.
I am also gainfully employeed and only have to work 40 hours a week, and no, I don't pay a penalty in salary for this privilege. It's just one of the many things that more modern working environments are realizing is a good idea. If you want ot hear more about that, check out the excellent book, Rework.
Shortly before I made this transition a lot of people asked me if I was concerned whether I would miss the office interaction, and whether or not I thought I would be productive. Neither of these things concerned me. Over the last 18 months, while I was developing FeelGoodTrader.com, I regularly met with people face-to-face to bounce ideas around when necessary, and since I didn't answer to anyone but myself, that meant I was my own task master. I could bore you with the list of over 500+ features that I implemented as the only developer on the project (working only part time on actualy programming tasks), but suffice to say if you're disciplined about it, getting a ton of stuff done is actually pretty easy.
Beyond that, and perhaps closer to my heart, is the fact that my workspace is completely customizable. That means I don't have to walk to the bathroom and look at a bunch of those annoying motivational posters, mission statements, or other stamps of the corporate environment; I simply stay focused, and work hard, so such things just aren't necessary to remind me that I am "at work." It also means that I can soak up my love for music all day as I work and listen to tunes without worrying that I might be disturbing my coworkers. Along with the choice of working venue for the day, this is a great little bonus.