Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Times are changing.
My mother-in-law doesn't understand that yes, it's okay for me to work from home occasionally. In her world, you go to the office or place of business, work your eight hours, punch the time clock and leave when the work is done. You work every opportunity you get, however long you're needed to finish whatever task is at hand. That's a strong work ethic, something I strive for - trying to do a commendable job that pleases both the customer and my supervisors.
But I don't punch a clock, so my 40 hours can be 50 hours from time to time, as the need arises. Also, I have a laptop for a workstation - one that usually doesn't need to be attached to the network to be a useful tool for getting my work done. Everytime I leave the office, I take it with me (do not leave a laptop in your cubicle unless you want to get a new desktop to replace it after it's lifted). So in effect, I'm "in the office", or at least available to the office, nearly 24/7 because I bring my PC just about everywhere I go.
I also have a thirty-minute commute. I've been working at the same place for almot 14 years now, and I appreciate the drive to let me gear up for work in the morning and leave the stress behind in the evening (except for bringing my laptop home, of course). So that's an hour drive time to add to my day. Normally, I leave at 7:30a to drop the kids off at school and arrive at work by 8:30a (that's worse case with bad traffic). Normal quitting hour is 5:15p, so with shutting down and wrapping up, and the possibility of traffic on the way home, too - let's say I get home by 6p.
Following so far?
Today, and other days throughout the year, I needed to be here this morning when the pest control guy showed up. He arrived at 8:30a sharp - very punctual - and he sprayed around the inside of our house and in the yard. I paid him and he left at 9a. If I left for work, I would've been there by 9:30a, and my day would be one hour off. If I skipped lunch, which I do sometimes anyway, I could've been home by the normal 6p time. But if I just worked normal and took lunch, I wouldn't be home until 7p, which is no good and we'd need a babysitter since my wife has play rehearsal tonight and would be gone before I got home.
Or, I could work from home. I was logged in before 8a, working when the gentleman came to spray for bugs. When he left, I returned to the kitchen to get some stuff done on a program. My brother came over for coffee, I took a break for lunch, and I've been fairly busy since then. When I turn the laptop off in a little bit, I will have gotten in about 8 hours of work. Without the commute.
I can take advantage of the arrangement, as long as I don't take advantage of the arrangement. My mother-in-law doesn't understand that, having been taken advantage of too many times, I guess. I do the same thing if I've got to take a child to the doctor, or get the car to the shop. Anything that requires me to take some time out of the day, it's easier for me to do it rather than my wife, and I save about an hour by not having to drive to work. Staying productive is the key, and getting stuff done without vegging out around the house is hard sometimes. But I'll be back in the office tomorrow - with a 9am conference call, and a few things that I need to get done. I work some weekends, and I answer email on vacation - being attached to the laptop has it's perks and burdens.
Times are changing. And at home, I can work barefoot. Woo hoo.