When I decided to move on from my previous job my new position allowed me to work remotely. I have worked from home before so knew what to expect. My experience led me to believe the main aspects to address when home working were:
- This is difficult to mitigate but frequent face to face meetings and video calls with colleagues can address this providing you are aware that some managers have a terrible habit of "out of sight, out of mind" management
- You are on your own a lot of the time which means you must motivate yourself to work. Mainly this is achieved through a routine. I get dressed properly, start work the same time every day and ensure I take breaks at regular times.
- Work life balance
- This is often more of a problem than you might expect and not in the way most managers assume. A good motivated software engineer can have a terrible habit of suddenly discovering it is long past when they should have finished work. It is important to be strict with yourself and finish at a set time.
- In my previous office testers, managers, production and support staff were all mixed in with the developers resulting in a lot of distractions however when you are at home there are also a great number of possible distractions. It can be difficult to avoid friends and family assuming you are available during working hours to run errands. I find I need to carefully budget time to such tasks and take it out of my working time like i was actually in an office.
- My previous office had "tired" furniture and decoration in an open plan which often had a negative impact on my productivity. When working from home I find it beneficial to partition my working space from the rest of my life and ensure family know that when I am in that space I am unavailable. You inevitably end up spending a great deal of time in this workspace and it can have a surprisingly large effect on your productivity.
Instead we decided to replace the garden shed with a garden office. The contractor ensured the structure selected met all the local planning requirements while remaining within our budget. The actual construction was surprisingly rapid. The previous structure was removed and a concrete slab base was placed in a few hours on one day and the timber building erected in an afternoon the next.
To begin with I filled the space with furniture I already had, for example the desk was my old IKEA Jerker which I have had for over twenty years.
IKEA Skarsta standing desk, PEXIP bought me a nice work laptop and I acquired a nice print from Lesley Mitchell but overall little has changed in my professional work area in the last year and I have a comfortable environment.
In conclusion I have a great work area which was created at a reasonable cost.
There are a couple of minor things I would do differently next time:
- Position the building better with respect to the boundary fence. I allowed too much distance on one side of the structure which has resulted in an unnecessary two foot wide strip of unusable space.
- Ensure the door was made from better materials. The first winter in the space showed that the door was a poor fit as it was not constructed to the same standard as the rest of the building.
- The door should have been positioned on the end wall instead of the front. Use of the building showed moving the door would make the internal space more flexible.
- Planned the layout more effectively ahead of time, ensuring I knew where services (electricity) would enter and where outlets would be placed.
- Ensure I have an electrician on site for the first fix so electrical cables could be run inside the walls instead of surface trunking.
- Budget for air conditioning as so far the building has needed heating in winter and cooling in summer.
In essence my main observation is better planning of the details matters. If i had been more aware of this a year ago perhaps I would not not be budgeting to replace the door and fit air conditioning now.