Telecommuting to work: Week One

At work, there is a discussion going on about how to implement a work-from-home policy. The merits revealed to me at a staff meeting was that it can provide for improved quality of life and can be useful for staff morale and retention. I have to use the MBTA rail to commute from Providence to Boston daily, which typically incurs about 3 hours on top of the 8.5 hour workday. For the native Rhode Islander, that may sound bad. But having a laptop equipped with a Verizon EVDO card allows me to make some use of that trip time online.

My immediate supervisor and I have come to an agreement to pilot this for each Thursday over the next 10-weeks. I will post a log of what I found to be the good and not-so-good about it from my perspective.

The Good

  1. I got to roll out of bed around 7:30am, and was ready to work in my home office by 8:00am.
  2. My brand of coffee and soda were conveniently nearby.
  3. My home office is plush with state-of-the-art equipment, desk, and a leather chair.
  4. Since I carry a corporate laptop anyways, I was unencumbered with using its tools to do my work.
    • Modified an OS image on the SAN and powered on a server using its ILO management port, without any need for physical contact with any hardware in the datacenter.
  5. The ambiance was more comfortable in place of the sounds often heard in a busier and more hectic workplace.
  6. Instant Messaging was useful (to a point).
  7. For lunch, I am usually done eating in 5-minutes. The weather was mild for a New England winter day, so I took Rebecca (our dog) out for a fast-paced 20-minute walk.
  8. Isabella (our cat) got to use my window for her sunbathing, because she was safe from Rebecca.

The Not-So-Good

  1. Some noticeable latencies over what you get from the office LAN throughout the day, but not atypical from other Internet use.
  2. I had a complicated time with a call into the Leonardo Conference room for a Disaster Recovery meeting.
    • It was made complicated first, because the number was not listed in the meeting invite, and made worse that its Microsoft Exchange account properties did not have the number either.
    • Fortunately, I was able to find the number from the company portal, listed ridiculously as its own department.
    • The speaker phone in the room was not attached to that number, only a handset. The speaker phone did not have a label to identify its phone number. The attendees had to call me back using the speaker phone.
    • The quality of its speaker phone is terrible. It takes some discipline to interact in “half-duplex” mode, that is, only speak when no one else is talking.
  3. A colleague is leaving for Tehran tomorrow, and part of my responsibilities is to provide backup support for his professional services. He was busily satisfying as many of the last-minute things he could take care of, and I was not there — even in a passive mode — to get a first-hand sense of changes being made. And I did not get the opportunity for a more personal send off.