On Working From Home For Long Stretches

This Saturday we’re (finally) launching the new LockerPulse. Thus far in 2012 my partners and I have had very unusual schedules. With Reece coming on in January, Greg needed to spend almost every day working with him face to face on mastering our customer service processes. Mike and I needed to spend as much time developing LockerPulse so that the project didn’t drag on for a year. In some ways this worked out perfect: Greg spent almost every day in the warehouse with the guys while Mike and I each worked from home. About once per week we’d work together. And about once every other week we’d each have a warehouse day to give Greg a day off. But for the most part I was home by myself focusing on LockerPulse.

I learned a few interesting things. Being away from the warehouse for such extended periods of time feels weird. Going back to our first day in 2008 I couldn’t think of a week where I wasn’t there at least once, with most weeks being 2-4 days. During those periods I always longed for more time to be home developing. I always felt like I could/should be getting a lot more done. I’m generally pretty introverted, and I generally have the ability to dial in to a project for a long period of time if left uninterrupted, so my initial reaction was that I was extremely excited to be able to spend my winter at home working on what is essentially my dream project.

For a few months it worked great. But as the project dragged on I started itching to get out of the house more, whether it was to work with the guys in the warehouse or to work at a coffee shop. Problem is, I get my best development work done at my dual-monitor standing desk work station. I suspect I’m a significant percentage more efficient developing with the screen space of two 1080p monitors (at least it feels that way). So I pretty much spent the majority of my weekdays and some of my weekends working from my office. And now, five months later, I’m very ready to wrap the project up and launch it. I’m extremely excited to finally be able to focus on marketing it and not on developing it. I’m excited to be able to spend more time in a more collaborative work environment at the warehouse. And I’m excited to be able to get out and work at the many local coffee shops a few times a week, whether that’s alone or with someone on our team or with a friend.

Now that I’ve experienced what working from home all day, every day, I think I’m fairly certain that it’s not for me. If you had asked me six months ago if I could move across the country and still get my job done I would have said sure. At times I’ve even thought about it. However, now that seems crazy to me. Nothing replaces face to face collaboration for so many reasons. It benefits both the company and my sanity.

I’m grateful that I had the opportunity though. This was so much different than when I first left my job. Back then I was living and working from my parents house because I had to, with the constant stress that I needed to make more money ASAP. In this case, I wasn’t worried about money or getting out of my parents house or proving something to people who thought I was nuts for leaving my job. It was a very comfortable situation. The only pressure was the pressure I put on myself to get the project done. I’m glad that I got exposed to this extended stretch now. Otherwise, in the future, I may have overemphasized the importance of working from home all the time, whether it was buying a house too far from our warehouse/office or someday starting another business with complete disregard to physical location. Not that those things would necessarily be bad for someone else, I just know now that they’re not for me.

Moving forward, I think that the perfect balanced schedule for me is 1-2 days at the warehouse each week, with 3-4 days where I have the flexibility to work from home, at one of my partner’s house’s, or at a coffee shop (or maybe a coworking space someday). I’d also like to mix in a few working trips a year, particularly to somewhere warm during the winter months ๐Ÿ™‚

2 comments on On Working From Home For Long Stretches

  1. Mark W. says:

    Adam, this is a great post on many levels. Most importantly, it’s about learning about yourself and what works best for you regarding your working habits. The part of the post about the pressure – isn’t it always about the pressure we put on ourselves regardless of the circumstances? I think it’s really about how we perceive our situation. Anyways, I enjoyed the post and look forward to seeing the “new” LockerPulse. I’ve got to check it out now before it switches over since I’ve only used it a few times. Good luck with it!

    • Adam McFarland says:

      The part of the post about the pressure โ€“ isnโ€™t it always about the pressure we put on ourselves regardless of the circumstances? I think itโ€™s really about how we perceive our situation.

      That’s so true Mark. Thanks for the well wishes…we all like it but you’re never quite sure how everyone else will feel. Fingers are crossed ๐Ÿ™‚

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