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Wednesday, 3 March 2010

London Bridge is burning down! I'll work from home

Today I arrived at my local train station set for my 15min journey into Central London only to find all my trains were cancelled due to a fire at London Bridge station. I found the only alternative was a 2 hour big red bus journey guarded by a mosh pit of people fighting for the one or two spare standing spaces.

With our modern world I don't need to be at work to do my job. I can easily fire up the VPN and do my development work remotely. So I gave my boss a bell. He is very understanding and having a development background he understands the advantages of working from home on occasions and so he granted my request. Despite his understanding, however, the company wide policy is to only allow working from home in emergencies and so had to explain his reluctance.

I can understand a company wide default policy of 'work from home only in emergencies' but am not sure it should apply to developers in all instances. Most people where I work cannot do their job from home. Many of the staff depend on meetings and interaction. Conversely, meetings and interaction mostly prevent me from working and so I have relatively very few.

Of course I need to be at work most of the time. People need me to estimate technical solutions and timescales and I need to be on hand generally. I can't just put my head down and write code all the time (as much as I'd love to). Today I worked from home and I am not joking when I say I got through work estimated at almost 20 hours in the space of my standard 7.5 hour day.

I suppose the problem is if the developers I work with are allowed to work from home on occasions then everyone will want to. Then there will be at least one person taking the piss - there always is.

With development having such a tangible metric (e.g. code commits to source control, features materialising) and there being the huge advantage of being able to pump out huge amounts of work more than usual due to lack of distraction can there not be some compromise?

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