My team started working from home this week

Sun has a Work from Home program called OpenWork and about 80% of my team started participating this week. I've gotten a lot of questions from people here in China, where Working from Home is still a novelty among R&D teams.

Q: Did you give up your Sun office for this? I mean did you take down all your pictures from the wall and clear out your desk drawers?
A: Yes.

Q: So how do you get an office on the days when you do come in to the office?
A: I have to reserve a flex office.

Q: Aren't you worried your team's productivity will go down because of this?
A: Not at all. If people's productivity was high only because their managers and I were staring over their shoulder at the office all day that would be a sign of a bigger problem. I'm more worried about them working longer and harder because it's so easy now that we're all set up to work from home. And besides if their productivity did go down it would be obvious right away and in that case we could move someone back to the office.

Q: Are you worried people will lose their sense of affiliation to the team?
A: That is one of the biggest risks since we don't see each other every day now. To mitigate this, we talk a lot via phone, IM, and email when we're working from home. And everyone is required to come in to the office on Thursdays, where we get a lot of quality face time with each other.

Q: What kinds of equipment did Sun give you for your home office?
A: A laptop, printer, desk, chair. And Sun will pay for my home internet connection and office supplies that I use.

Q: How do you work with your kids running around you all day?
A: Clearly you've met my children and know that this would be impossible. They're at school all day while I'm working at home. And I work some before they get up and after they go to bed so it's quiet then.

Q: Do you go to the kitchen every half hour for a snack, since it's so close and convenient?
A: Not yet, but so many people are suggesting that this could be a problem that I'm sure it will become one for me. Thanks for that!

Q:Do you work in your pajamas?
A: I made an agreement with myself that I would get up every morning, shower, get dressed and brush my teeth, just as if I were going in to work. Somehow that gets me into work mode. But these are early days for me working from home. I understand from longer-term OpenWorkers like Linda and Pam that over time your standards for personal grooming might go downhill in a frightening way change.

BTW here's a picture of my home office. I promise to post a better one when I get it more organized and my husband brings home the good camera.
home office

Comments:

I guess I'm just a luddite who still likes to go into the office everyday. I treasure my window office in MPK 17!

Posted by Sue Weber on May 11, 2007 at 05:03 AM CST #

Excellent!

Posted by Dolores Pere Priegnitz on May 11, 2007 at 04:57 PM CST #

Working from home is one of the great inventions of the last 15 years! When I started (in 1990 in Paris) I worried I wouldn't be able to focus and meet deadlines. But it was absolutely no problem. In fact, I got things done much much faster than when I was working in an office. A lot of people fear they won't be productive in a work-from-home situation but I think those are often people who haven't yet tried it. (Other people, of course, "need" someone looking over their shoulder---I wonder if those people are actually in the wrong type of work for them.)

Posted by Working Girl on May 14, 2007 at 07:33 PM CST #

In general I am not a big fan of the working from home concept probably because of the kind of work I do (grad student). Technically I could just work from home every day and not show up in the lab at all. But that would mean not having the water cooler conversations where new research ideas sprout at alarming frequency. Or somebody has a completely different take at that seemingly intractable problem that you have been wrangling with for the good part of the day. And not surprisingly good research labs are those which have so many amenities (read large screens with gaming systems) that grad students almost never go home. I would say 3:2 split (3 days at office 2 days at home) is a good rule of thumb for an engineering/research kind of a role. The best would be to have closed door offices arranged around pods - so that you could close doors and retract into a shell for intense coding/thinking sessions - and open the doors so people can pop in. One of my previous employers did that and I _loved_ working there :)

Posted by Shubho on May 15, 2007 at 05:52 PM CST #

My first thought - was I wonder how you'll be doing on the personal grooming after a few months of wfh. Then, how sweet, yet maybe naive?? Keep up posted - I sometimes do work in bed, which I think is a bad habit.

Posted by Barb M on May 23, 2007 at 04:33 PM CST #

WEL,MY QUESTION IS THE IF YOUR A MANAGER AND YOU DONT HAVE ANY MODE IN THE MORNING FOR WORK SO HOW YOU CAN GIVE IMPROVEMENT YOU TEAM?

Posted by MIKE on May 28, 2007 at 11:02 AM CST #

Shubho and Sue, I think you're in the majority on this one. Most people seem to prefer working at the office. I've done it for 2 weeks now and I like it more every day. Dolores, many thanks to you and your team for getting me and my team to this point! Barb, reading emails in bed would definitely give me nightmares! :) Working Girl I agree, I'm more productive on the work from home days. Or at least I get more of the "nose-down" kind of work done on those days. Mike, I do have a work mode in the morning and I would say, completely objectively ;), that I do a great job motivating my team.

Posted by melanie gao on May 28, 2007 at 02:33 PM CST #

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