Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Teleworking

Wondering how working from home in big projects with tight deadlines will workout.
Any sharable experiences ???

kim
Saturday, June 21, 2003

big projects with tight deadlines are _always_ exciting.

bottom line is "how well will the employees work at home?"

With AIM + email + phone there is no real excuse for a lack of communication, but it is important to know when to use which medium.

Some people work best when self-motivated, others with a boss peering over their shoulder, others never work at all :)

A big project with tight deadlines requires _good_ specs and a thorough understanding of the problem areas and their solutions.
If you dont have that then you are going to deliver late, if you _do_ have that then the chances are you are still going to deliver late because in my experience companies that sign off on big projects with tight deadlines are going to be doing _many_ other things wrong as well :)

But either way working from home prolly wont change the end result.

FullNameRequired
Saturday, June 21, 2003

sorry...reread and you were looking for actual experiences instead of opinions.

I work from home, currently working on 1 smallish project, 1 mediumsize but long term project and 1 medium size project with a tight deadline (currently being met) also doing standard legacy work for 4 earlier projects...mostly they dont require a lot of work and preparing quotes for 3 other jobs of which I expect to get 1.

most are x-plat (mac & windows) using either REALbasic or wxWindows where appropriate and involve websites (I sub contract to a designer for the fancy stuff and do the tying to the databases myself using whichever method is most appropriate once the designer is finished) + database backend (mysql, valentina or filemaker) + desktop applications where useful.

everything is ultimately always delivered late and over budget :)

<g> but then my time management has always been awful....

FullNameRequired
Saturday, June 21, 2003

correction - experience and opinions - all welcome !!

kim
Saturday, June 21, 2003

Our team is 3 engineers working 4 days a week at home. We come in every Monday. We have a deadline every 2 weeks (we're using the XP planning process, with 2 week iterations).

We all do very well with this system, but we're also all very motivated people. If you have trouble finding the motivaton to work, then being at home is a lot worse than being in the office. There's a bed, a TV, a refrigerator, etc., all within a couple dozen feet. That's a bad recipe for someone who dislikes their job. :)

IM and e-mail are pretty much our sole methods of communication during the days we're at home. Phones are just not required except in very unusual circumstances. Very rarely do things have to be dealt with immediately, because we're usually working fairly independently.

Working at home has accomodated the fact that we all like to work varying schedules. I'm up at 5:30am, but on and off during various parts of the day, and usually doing the bulk of my work in the late afternoon/early evening. One's usually up around 8am, and works during the day pretty solid, because he tries to work when the kids are occupied. One's a night owl, and rarely up before 10am, runs errands during the day and codes through the late night.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Saturday, June 21, 2003

I work from home right now and get a lot done because of it.

But I've found communication between me an the rest of the company to be quite poor. I'm the only developer in the company, so the "rest of the company" is mostly sales and training staff. Maybe this is normal?

Now we are looking to add another developer and I'm nervous that the work from home model will mean continued poor communication. Of course, I could be mistaken and the flaws in communication I see now are related to technical vs. non-technical staff rather than physical proximity.

Brad, is your team local to each other so that you can also have face-to-face meetings on a regular basis?

Marc
Saturday, June 21, 2003

Yes, we're all within an hour's drive of one another, and have a face to face meeting every Monday. I don't think we'd be able to do it if we weren't meeting regularly, and having the option to work together face to face when it's required. Very early on in the project, we spent a lot of time together, mostly because there was one engineer who knew the prototype project (in Java), and the other two of us didn't. We were also porting it to .NET.

So in the beginning, it was pretty common for me to be together with one or both of them 3, 4, or 5 days a week, as the work demanded it. Once we all got our footing, we scaled back.

We didn't start out with the XP planning process; we were doing something moderately haphazard but pretty ineffective. The agility of the team is well served by the XP planning process, because we can go off for a week or two without meeting and feel confident that the most important things are being worked on. The one part of XP Planning we're not doing is the "stand up" meeting, because we're obviously not all together. We've tried daily phone calls from the Tracker, who keeps effort recorder, but we'll probably move to a more virtual meeting with MSN IM + voice + whiteboard in the future (for both the planning meetings on Mondays and the stand up meetings the rest of the week).

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Saturday, June 21, 2003

If your job can be easily done from home, why wouldn't your employer just farm it out to a 3rd world country?

Anonymous
Monday, June 23, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home