Andrew "Drew" Ford

Full Stack Developer / Instructor from Tauranga, New Zealand

Working remotely from home for 6 months

I’ve been working remotely now for over 6 months with Monitor from home. Its been a tough but overall enjoyable time. Here are some points about my experience and some advice.

The good parts:

  • I’ve gone from novice to more than competent with Angular JS with majority of work to date been building an Angular web app that’s responsive.
  • Worked with iOS and Android, adding features to Monitor’s mobile apps.
  • Become very competent with building an API in .Net Web API.
  • I’m spending more time working on my Mac for app development, Windows 8's UI is pretty horrible.
  • I get to see my wife for lunch when she’s not working. Plus I’m always home for the kids.
  • My cooking skills have improved as I’m always home first to start cooking dinner.
  • I’m not wasting up to an hour each day on commuting. Not having to drive for 10 minutes to get to work like I did previously is a big stress reducer.

The hard parts:

  • Communication is hard when working remotely, even with all the tools available now for it. I find I need to have face to face visits every month and constantly strive to keep my team aware of my progress and issues I come across.
  • I work a lot more hours working remotely, often I’ll put the kids to bed and whip out to the garage for a couple of hours “just to get some things done” or spend an afternoon on the weekend working. It’s “normal” for me to do 50+ hour weeks simply cause I can.
  • Working remotely can be lonely. I find I need to do activities to socialise outside of work like social beach volleyball and meetups. Some weeks I never leave the suburb of where I live.
  • Work and home life separation is difficult, it’s too easy to work in the evenings.
  • I’m putting on weight very quickly as food is always at hand in the pantry. I may be walking to work, but the distance isn’t very far.

My tips:

  • Make a space where you can work alone without distractions, I’ve made part of our garage into my office.
  • Get into a routine, start at the same time everyday just like going to a normal job.
  • Make sure you get outside the house to do social activities at least once a week.
  • Fast unlimited internet is a must, I’m eyeing up all the current deals on offer for fibre they have come down in price the short time I’ve been working from home.
  • Over communicate is the best policy I'm finding. I'm constantly updating my team members on Skype and email.
  • Read these two books Remote: Office Not Required and The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work.

Overall the experience has been great. It allows me to do a very challenging job thats rewarding in learning experiences from the comfort of my own home without the stress of a commute to work. On top of that I'm able to maximise my time with my family, which is priceless.