Work 2.0: Why I (mostly) <3 working from home

Approximately one year ago, I left a large corporate environment (Autodesk) to work for a small company (Forum One), using my home office (the Garoffice) as my base of operations.

The following post by Alex Iskold, The “Work From Home” Generation, does a really great job of summarizing the pros and cons of the 20 foot commute.

From the post, the main points are:

Pros:

  • No Commute
  • Saving Money
  • Flexibility
  • Increased Productivity

Cons:

  • Brainstorming is difficult
  • You never leave work
  • Entropy is after you

Working from home has given me back at least 15 hours a week that I was burning commuting in to San Francisco from our home in Fairfax. That time translates into quality time with the family, and in particular, getting to spend at least a couple of hours every day with my 2 year old Daughter. I also feel much more productive than I did in an office environment, mostly because my work environment is genreally free from distraction, barring the occaisional family emergency.

For me, the main downside to working from home is the creeping sense of isolation. I plan several local and national community and social media conferences throughout the year, but in the weeks between the conferences, I can go for a week without meeting someone face to face in a work-related setting. I didn’t realize this would bug me, but it does. I guess I’m more social than I thought 🙂 The other thing I miss about the office environment is the spontaneous collaboration… somebody popping over the cube wall with a wireframe, or pulling me over to a whiteboard for a brainstorming session.

I’m activley looking for co-working space in Marin to use a couple of days a week. I still want to spend the majority of my work week at home, but after a year, I definitly feel the need to get out of the house part of the week.

I’m interested in hearing about other’s work from home experiences. Are the challenges Alex outlines above consistent with your experience? What did you do to alleviate the issues?

Update: Apparently there are a lot of “homeworkers”. I’m finging or being pointed to all kinds of great content. In particular:
Top 30 Tips for Staying Productive and Sane While Working From Home – Zen Habits

Bill Johnston - Founder, Structure3C. Former Head of Community at Dell & Autodesk. Mobile: (415) 233-6914 Twitter: @billjohnston LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/billj In a sentence: Seasoned online community and social media executive and advisor with over 15 years experience developing large scale online communities, social media initiatives and successful online product strategies.
5 comments
  1. Hi Bill,

    Glad to hear that you found the post useful. You nicely summarized what I was saying – its cool but you need to get out once in a while.

    Alex

  2. Hi Bill:

    Now the feeling. I sold a firm I started in 1995 to create online communities for alumni associations and left an environment of up to 30 people that I interacted on a daily basis to now working from home. Try oovoo.com as a way to connect with people and see them. We might want to start an online community for home workers. We could set it up so you would get an office, (profile) page and you could move yourself next to others. Might have a match maker thing that would let people build their offices next to people they want to talk to “over the digital watercooler”. Should we do it?

  3. Bill – I think your comments (and Alex’s) are right on. I’ve had experiences on both ends of the spectrum (100% at home vs 100%+ at the office). I’ve recently joined a small consultantcy that has a policy that we employees can work from home 2 days a week. I think this is the perfect balanace between the two. I save time & gas on communiting two times per week. But I also get to have the collaboration and social interaction of the office the other days. This is a great benefit – and something the traditional large organizations can’t offer. – Elizabeth

  4. Bill- happened to be in Tiburon today- attempted to go to Sams which is closed till next weekend, and ended up at a quaint little lunch spot right across from the ferry terminal. Anyway, there are 2 300 sq ft. offices with big windows facing the ferry terminal- right there in the breezeway from the street to the dock. $1200 each. I figured, 3 peeps could fit in there and make it el cheapo. Unfortunately I don’t want to commute to Tiburon to co-work. So I went and ate lunch.

  5. Hi Bill. I just stumbled onto your blog while searching for coworking spots in Marin. Looks like we’re neighbors of sorts, as I’m close to the San Anselmo/Fairfax border.

    I work at home full time and have been thinking about the benefits of (re-)joining the living during the day. If you do find a spot, or end up starting a communal-gathering somewhere local for the day, let me know.

    -brian
    http://emphaticsolutions.com (has my contact info)

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