July 01, 2019
Since late 2015, I’ve worked 100% remote at my current employer, SAP Concur. I couldn’t be happier doing this. In going remote, I made the choice to step away from a management role and to instead move to a different team as a Senior Developer, working in React/NodeJS on a greenfield project. I had an itch to scratch on getting back into full development and especially into web development. That I’d be working with a team on the other side of the country and be able to go fully remote was a no-brainer as well.
You see, in late 2014 my first son was born. At that time, I was traveling 30 miles south, which in Atlanta traffic is roughly 90 minutes. That meant I was gone 3 hours on top of the 8 hours I needed to be in the office. Not a lot of bonding time with my new son.
Now my day looks a little different. I still work about 8 hours a day (but just between you and me dear reader, it’s sometimes less…), but now I get to be there when both of my son’s wake up and feed them breakfast and get them ready for the day, which is either to preschool or for the nanny. If one of them is sick, I can take them to the doctor and then maybe work a little later or earlier without consequence.
There’s definitely challenges to overcome working remote.
Not fully remote office
Our team is not evenly distributed remote. Most members are in our corporate office. Sure, many work from home themselves on any given day, but there’s often an assumption that everyone is in the office. We recently moved over to Skype Business phones in all the conference rooms and the sound quality can be … challenging at best. Nothing derails a sprint demo faster than mutters of “Can you hear him?”, “What just happened?“.
There’s definitely a discipline to working remote. Often when I say I work remote, people joke “So do you wear pants”? The reality is having a routine for remote work is essential just like it can be in the office. I am blessed enough to have my own room in our house dedicated to being an office. This way, when I go into and start working, it’s as if I have left the house. My kids (now 4 and 2) know that Daddy’s working when he’s in there. There are channels in our work slack for remote employees and there’s idle chatter in that channel. I also joined a local tech slack channel for when I need a break while waiting for deploys or long builds to connect with other humans.
And yes, I do housework while I’m working as well. When I get stuck on a coding problem or have a long build/deploy, I’ll step away from the office and go start a load of laundry. Or do the dishes. It clears my head, and is the equivalent of walking over to the break room for more coffee and stopping to chat with a co-worker.
It’s also easy to get distracted.
What do I miss about being in the office? There’s a comraderie and social interaction that does not always translate to Zoom meetings or banter on slack channels. FOMO is real, not the least of which happens when there is a central office and events get planned for that office that are person first, livestream second type of events (Swag Bags for all attendees! Cocktail hour afterwards for mingling!).
Ultimately though, remote work helps me to manage my life better than I could hope for. I’m living where I want to live, providing for my family but not being absent. My family can come first, which I think is the way that we should be wired. Not to sit in traffic or at a desk staring at others on headphones. I would not presume to ever say that I’ll never go into an office again, but it’s the company and the work that would put me back in there, not the amount of foosball tables or collaborative spaces. My priorities just aren’t the same now. And I like it!
Written by Allen Reinmeyer who lives and works in Perrysburg, OH You should follow him on Twitter