I'm a forty-something Microsoft SQL Server DBA of 12+ years, a devoted husband, and a father of two young boys (with another coming soon!). I have been a DBA at a university, at a major bank, at a healthcare system, and I now work as a consultant with customers across the United States.
I have been working 100% from home for almost four months now, and one of my former coworkers recently hit me with "How's it going working from home - I expected to see a blog post about it by now."
He's right - I had intended to blog about this before now, and as the three people who read my blog have noticed by now, I have produced a whopping *one* blog post since starting at Ntirety
I have noticed some of the benefits that many people report about Telecommuting:
More time with my wife and our three little boys
- when I drove into the office every day (or at least most days, since my last job did allow me to occasionally work from home) the only meal I usually had with my family was the evening meal (we call it dinner). I was almost always out of the house before everyone else was up and around, so I didn't have breakfast with my family (and often didn't really have breakfast at all, or at least not a good breakfast - more on that in a bit). Lunch was never at home - maybe once a month I would come home at lunchtime and bring home takeout. Now I have all three meals at home with my family every day.
Another benefit in this area is the lost commute. Driving to my office at my last job was a 30-45 minute commute depending on what time of day I was driving. Combined with the time spent preparing to leave and the time spent setting up in my cube every day (bonus benefit - no cube now) I was spending about two hours a day going back and forth. Now that time is spent helping my wife gets the kids ready in the morning and either cooking dinner or distracting the kids so my wife can cook. :)
One final benefit in this area is the reduced/non-existent travel. My last position was supposed to be about 50% remote managed services (from our local office) and 50% on-site consulting, and they were definitely honest and up-front about that. To be fair they did a good job of allowing me to work more like 80/20, but it still meant one week every couple months I was away from home at a client site. The other downside was that while it averaged out to a week every other month, it was more streaky than that, with two weeks coming in one month and then no travel for three months straight. The trade-off for my lighter travel was that some of my colleagues willingly traveled much more frequently, to the tune of 3 weeks or more every month. It quickly became clear that there was no real advancement available within the company unless you were willing to travel more than I would be comfortable doing.
At Ntirety, all of my work is WFH - in my four months I have been away from home for one week, when I visited Boston (the home base of Ntirety) during my first week on the job. The company line is that we will do a week at the mother-ship 2-3 times per year, always with significant notice (as opposed to my last job, where you would often find out on Thursday or Friday that you were flying out to a client on Sunday afternoon.)
Decreased expenses - aside from what is usually the most obvious upside to most people - less gas consumed and fewer miles on our little Chevy Malibu - I have found I spend less discretionary money in other ways as well.
When I went to the office, I ate out for breakfast and/or lunch - takeout or in restaurants - at least three or four times a week and often even more. Now I never eat out by myself, and combined with a new effort in our family to eat at home more often, we find ourselves only eating out about once a week (some weeks not at all), and more importantly, we don't find ourselves missing it much!
The other expense that has come down is our grocery bill. While that may seem counter-intuitive since we are eating at home more, I have realized that before I would stop at a store on the way home 2-3 times a week to grab something, which often resulted in picking up something extra as well. Now that I don't go out every day, those more expensive "quick trips into the store" have virtually disappeared.
- my previous job did a good job of allowing me flexibility to go to doctor's appointments, etc., even as we went through the multitude of appointments that make up the pregnancy and birth of our third child last year, but I was still in the office every day, basically 7-4 or 8-5.
Now when I take a break to go to the restroom or get a drink, I can spend a minute to talk to my wife, or to throw the clothes from the washer into the dryer (our laundry closet is upstairs near my home office).
Of course as with everything, there have been some minor downsides to the new situation as well:
Less social media and blogging presence - this is another item that may seem counter-intuitive, since most articles and blogs about Telecommuting talk about the importance of the "virtual water cooler" to stay connected to the outside world.
At Ntirety we use Skype as an instant messaging tool, and I work with two MCMs (although one of them did recently leave to from his own consultancy). I have found that the interaction I was missing at work in the past that was driving me heavily onto Twitter is more present now in my work relationships and therefore has decreased my Twitter presence.
Two other things contribute to my decreased presence, one of which relates to my new position and one of which relates to the changes in my family (read: having three kids in a little over three years).
My new WFH situation and it's benefit of spending more time with my family has decreased my time spent working on my blog. I used to spend a little time at the start and end of each day in the office compiling ideas and nibbling away at blog posts, especially at the end of the day if I knew traffic for the commute was going to be bad. Now with my 20-30 *second* commute at the end of the day (down the stairs to the first floor), usually with little traffic other than dodging a cat on the way down, I find myself in more of a hurry to get out the door and "home" to my family. While I can apply a little self-discipline and overcome this to blog more frequently (as I do hope to do), it still takes additional effort.
The other thing - the family thing - that keeps me off Twitter as much as I used to is my decreased attendance at SQLSaturdays
and other events. Having a growing family with multiple small children (now 4, 2.5, and 1 years old) has made it harder to justify to myself spending extra time away, and this makes me less interested in what's going on on Twitter - both because I don't need the event information, but also because there's a tiny little piece of me that is jealous that I'm not traveling to remote SQLSaturdays, etc. Maybe this will fade over time, and I know I need to be more present to take part in my #sqlfamily
, so I plan to work on this as well on the coming months.
All in all, the WFH experience has been a very positive one, and I greatly recommend it to anyone who meets the following criteria:
- You are self-directed, able to work without constant direction from your supervisor.
- You can handle not seeing your co-workers and boss every day.
- Most importantly, you have a door to close when needed - I don't always work with the door to my office shut, but there is definitely time every day when I close it.
The items I need to work on in the next six months:
Further Bulletins as Events Warrant!
- Re-invigorated online presence on Twitter, both for my own benefit and for that of the #sqlfamily
- Increased blogging - my blogging decreased even while I was at House of Brick, but as mentioned above has been almost non-existent in the last three months - my goal is to get to a post a week, even if it is a one page "micro-post."