Friday, April 05, 2013

Working from Home

After a long wait, I have finally become able to work from home. I started doing it on Tuesday, and my typical schedule will have me working from home four days out of the week.

It is fantastic.

I wake up, throw on some clothes, go downstairs, let the dogs out, go to the basement, and turn on my computer. Within 10 minutes of my alarm, I am on the clock. After I get logged in I catch up on work-related e-mail and cleaning up whatever I was working on the day before. About a half hour later, I take my official lunch break to help get the kids ready and all out the door, then I get back into my work. When my son gets off the school bus at the end of the day, that's the end of my day too (we have strict rules about kids and telework).

During the day, I'm freed from anyone interrupting my work. I'm freed from headphones, listening on a great sound system instead (so if you see my ratings go up on average, you'll know why). Working in the office, I would sometimes do a set of push-ups do get my blood flowing, but I felt awkward with people walking by. Now, I have my weights set up and I'll take two minutes out of every 45 or so to do a set. When you take the time to lift weights, you have to spend a lot more time resting than actually lifting. With this arrangement, not only do I not waste time resting (I'm working instead), but my blood is flowing and I'm more alert and aware, to do my work better.

Between the commute and all the wasted time between weight lifting sets, I'm freeing up more than two hours out of each day. When I'm done with work, I'm home already. No one bothers me. Music sounds better (and gets played louder) and doesn't aggravate my tinnitus. It is a good time to be me.

Is Telework a Good Idea?

This isn't really the reason I wanted to write this post, but I think there are a lot of people who don't trust the very idea of work-at-home programs.

Telework was in the news recently when Yahoo! pulled all their employees back into the office, and some other companies are starting to look at their policies skeptically. But when the news shows some lady working at the kitchen table with her kids all around her, it's pretty obvious why it doesn't work out for every organization. I suspect our concrete metrics for performance help out. (That's bullshit business-speak for "You can count the widgets I made to make sure I'm actually doing my work.")

So, what do you think? Do you think your job could be done effectively from home? Would you want to try it? Do you think it's a good idea?


  1. That is great that you found a way to do that.

    I am in court pretty much every day at this point. I have a feeling that would not work well working from home. Prior to finding office space when I opened up my firm I worked from home a little bit. But I did not have much of a case load at the time (3 or 4 court appointments and 1 retained), so I could not really formulate an opinion on whether it worked or not.

  2. In addition, meeting with clients would be a problem. I would not like clients knowing where I live. In particular since I typically deal with the, shall we say, "less savory" element of society.

  3. Yeah, I know what you mean. My wife got freaked out when we had a letter arrive at our house from a former client (return address: prison). It's hell getting the bar association to correctly update your address. And there's also a difference between getting your address and actually going to (and in) your house.

    Come to think of it, there probably aren't a lot of practicing attorneys who work out of home. Some uber-specialty areas might make that work, I suppose.

  4. My company lets us work from home. They stress it's not a substitute for day care and you have to actually work. If you don't get your work done, you can't WFH anymore.

    I think at Yahoo, the CEO actually had VPN logs pulled and found folks weren't even logging in.

  5. I know a handful of attorneys that work from home, but none of them do any criminal defense work. As you suspected, they have specialty practices that focus entirely on estate planning and I think one does some family law stuff that somehow almost never requires depositions or going to court. Outside of the people I know personally, it is my understanding that some attorneys will meet at the client's home, a local business center, bar association conference rooms, hotels, and I have even heard of a McDonalds meeting.

    The best home office I was visited was actually structurally separated from the rest of the home, which I think if good for less disciplined people or those with trouble maintaining a work-life balance. From the sound of it you have a good thing going with how no one bothers you and how you still get to be there for the kids. Most people think of telework risks in terms of laziness but I think with attorneys it is more an issue of letting work consume them. Again, with your schedule it looks like you have things under control.

    On the metal side of things its great that you can listen to music on a better sound system now. For some bands this can make a surprising amount of difference depending on how good your headphones are. What is your sound setup like for the home office now?

  6. I don't think I'd be surprised at all about how much of a difference the speakers make.

    When I'm actually in the office, I use a pretty damn nice pair of headphones. They really sound great. But when you listen to anything on headphones for 8 hours a day, every day (particularly music with a more modern production style) it's fatiguing. You don't want to listen all that loud anymore. I have to judiciously decide what will get a louder treatment and at what point during the day.

    At home I'm using a spiffy Pioneer receiver that's about a decade old, with subwoofer, 4 regular speakers, and a speaker that's dedicated to the range of human voice. It wasn't purchased as an all-in-one package, so there are still some adjustments to be made, but all in all I'm extremely happy with it. I played some Nine Inch Nails the other day (one of the Ghosts albums) and found it sounded particularly good on this setup, but I don't think that means I'll be gravitating toward an industrial type of sound.

    On the telework itself, it makes a big difference in my productivity. Among certain people, I gained a reputation (for several reasons) for being the kind of person you want to ask about a difficult case or a finer point of law/regulation/policy, so I tend to get a lot of questions. Now, not so much.

    There are definitely the two extremes with keeping a good work-life balance. I was the one in law school who didn't study 12 hours a day (I'm pretty sure I was the only one in my class, actually) so I have no problems there. Laziness hasn't been an issue for me in my working years, and has never been an issue for me when getting paid. It was definitely an issue in my undergrad years, and toward the last semester of law school. I suspect it could become an issue as I near retirement, but that's a long way off.

  7. @Metalattorney Lincoln Lawyer it from court to court! Get a limo driver, ex client owes you some cash . . .

    @FMA client meetings would be the biggest obstacle. I try not give my clients my cell phone #, much less my home address.