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Why I Don't Look for a Telecommuting Job

I just got done reading Brent Ozar's post about why folks don't get the telecommuting job they want.  It's a good read and Brent makes a lot of sense in what he has to say. But that's not surprising as Brent is usually thinking about these things when the rest of us are sleeping or watching Simpsons reruns. But as I finished reading it, I got to thinking about why I haven't gone looking for a telecommuting job. Here is why I like coming into an office each workday.

Great Co-Workers

I love interacting virtually. But interacting with folks in person is always more enjoyable. I've gota a great group of co-workers around me. I enjoy being around them. This includes both DBAs and developers, as well as the typically basement dwelling system administrators. Many of them share my geekiness. That means they like talking about the same sort of the stuff, they have similar senses of humor, and there's a connection there. I love my kids, but my twelve year-old just doesn't understand why being a red shirt on an away team jaunt with Kirk is a bad thing.

Great Manager

I don't throw this in lightly because it's an easy one to get ribbed on. ("Oh, you're just saying that because he might read your blog.") My manager has been in the trenches. He has done IT support in exotic places (working on VAXes in the middle of the Saudi desert, for instance). He tinkers with technology because he enjoys technology. So he's like my co-workers with respect to the geekiness. But unlike my co-workers, who are around my age, he's a little bit older, he's done a bit more, and he's lived life a bit longer. And that means just about every time I interact with him, I come away having learned something. Some of it is IT-related. Some of it is around soft skills. And some of it is about dealing with life. Being in the office means ready availability where I can walk into his office and close the door. When we lost the twins last year, this sort of contact was invaluable in helping me deal with the situation.

The Kids and Me Wanting to Dive In

I love my kids, but we homeschool. I love the fact that we homeschool. My wife's an awesome teacher. She meets her mom's approval as a teacher, and her mom is a long time public school teacher with very high standards. Case in point, she has been introduced with great enthusiasm by her mom as "My daughter, the teacher!" But I love to teach. And when they start hitting history, or math, or science, then I want to dive in and help out. While my wife does a great job of teaching, I hate sitting on the sidelines. Being at home means I'm always tempted to be distracted. If I were to telecommute, I would need a space where I could shut the door and tune everything out. That's not possible with my current digs.

Design Meetings and Architecture Discussions

I love these. I love getting around a whiteboard and pulling things apart and putting pieces together. My background as a developer means I can understand that side of things in these discussions. Since I was formerly the systems architect (infrastructure architect) and security architect, I understand those pieces well, too. And I'm back as a DBA. So seeing the big picture, the whole system, the interconnected web of systems, man, that's exciting. And while that can be done remotely, it's more fun to do in person. It's great when folks start building upon one another. And you see and feel that enthusiasm. Not only do I work with great co-workers, I have some really smart co-workers in all segments of IT and business. Being around them is more than just fun, it's also motivating.

Would I Consider Telecommuting?

Of course! There are days when I need to work from home. I'm not feeling 100% or the kids aren't, or there are doctor's appointments (with my 5 year-old daughter, this is still a very, very common thing, unfortunately). And there are times, especially when the kids are done with schoolwork and are back in the back throwing shells and dropping bananas on each other, that I can really hit that zone. It's a little harder than at work because work is constantly a buzz with things going on. So I can see obvious benefits for it. But I also remember the experience of a friend of mine who, it seemed, had a dream telecommuting job. He was a network architect managing networks world-wide. He was at home with just him and his dog. Perfect setup with respect to his environmentals. Excellent remoting capabilities and team collaboration tools. And at first he loved it. But as the months progressed, he told us he was missing the daily contact with other folks. Sure, he was interacting with them virtually, but he missed dropping by someone's cube and sharing a quick joke, going out to lunch with a coworker, and the things like that. So he looked for and found another position. The new one wasn't a telecommuting position. He's much happier now. So I keep in mind my friend's experiences before I think the grass would be greener if I was in a 100% or even a mostly telecommute situation.


K. Brian Kelley - Databases, Infrastructure, and Security

IT Security, MySQL, Perl, SQL Server, and Windows technologies.


Posted by Brent Ozar on 7 May 2010

Glad you liked it, sir!  I agree about most of your reasons, and that's why I got a huge kick out of coworking.  With coworking, you sorta get to pick your coworkers and the environment, and you still get pulled into really cool meetings - it's just that they're not always computers.  I loved being drawn into meetings about how photographers can take better pictures, how marketers can reach more people, or how small business people can bootstrap better.  It was really thought-provoking.

Posted by Steve Jones on 7 May 2010

Good reasons, and I can understand your view. Lots of people think telecommuting is great (It is), but it's not perfect. There are challenges, and I struggle at times. I've been telecommuting for 8 years. My wife for 14. It helps that we're both here, but it's definitely tough when she's gone.

Posted by Ralph Hightower on 9 May 2010

Hey Brian,

Ask your boss if he knows where I can get a CD-ROM drive for my VAXStation II/GPX. I remember that Will is a fan of VMS, but at this stage of my life, I don't feel the need to learn an esoteric OS. I'm looking to install BSD on my VAX since I have years of experience with UNIX.



Posted by Jack Corbett on 9 May 2010

Interesting point and counterpoint between yourself and Brent.  I'm the only SQL Server person at my office so that part of my life is like being a telecommuter.  

In some ways I'd like to telecommute, but I would definitely need a true home office that I didn't use for any other purpose.

Posted by Anonymous on 12 May 2010

Pingback from  Telecommute: Work at Home Job of the Future | Urgent Money

Posted by baconm-1145631 on 17 May 2010

I worked for a year as a telecommuting databse architect consultant after working for one year on site.  It is true that you lose that contact with your coworkers but I was traveling a lot before that and was missing out on my kids growing up. So that year of telecommuting was great.  I would get up and take my girls to school, work out for an hour, participate in a teleconference, work for 6 hours, take an hour break when the girls got home and then get back to work for 2 more hours before supper.  Then it was family time with the wife and kids.  I would love to get a hybrid job where I telecmomuted 2.5 days and worked in the office for 2.5 days.  It is a 'green' thing to do, both the environment and my time would be saved since I am currently commuting 2 hours a day.  And I am jealous since my wife has this schedule now.

Posted by Anonymous on 25 May 2010

Pingback from  Telecommuting. Sometimes. | Luke Hayler - SQL Server developer

Posted by Indianrock on 25 May 2010

I think your physical distance from work needs to be kept in mind.  If under 30 minutes and there are strong reasons not to telecommute, that's one thing.  If it's a longer commute then many of the arguments against telecommuting begin to lose strength.  On the other hand, if telecommuting is going to undermine your career and finding another job may not be easy, then those with long commutes may have to consider relocating closer to the office.

Posted by blogging1986 on 31 May 2011

Working as a living is largely inescapable, in spite of the corporate trappings that harm productivity much more than they help. Going into business yourself removes one “Big Brother” figure from the equation, but you need to be supremely motivated to achieve success. Home-based work is another option. Working from home has its positive aspects - for you and your business. I read this here: <a title="home-based work benefits employees and employers" href="personalmoneystore.com/.../">Working from home benefits employees and employers, personalmoneystore.com/moneyblog</a>

Posted by SQLWorks on 2 October 2012

I started telecommuting as a DBA/Support team manager when I was living about 10 minutes from the office. After about 6 months of not going into the office once, and feeling much more productive, I gave up my office and never went back. Subsequently I moved two states away and have not really felt any difference in my professional life, beside getting commute time back and being much more productive when not surrounded by users. Now most if not all my co-workers around the country work from home and choose to live where they want to live, not where they want to work. Its not for everyone but it works great for my team, we work at a global financial institution.

check me out http://sqlworks.blogspot.com

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