February 12, 2018


Earl snapped a photo of me this morning

There’s a popular misconception that people working from home are lounging around in their pajamas, feet propped up on a cat, with Sally Jesse Rafael blaring on the television playing Solitaire on their over-powered company laptop. They answer an email or two just to look productive. They then join a conference call on a sketchy VoIP connection, asking repeatedly if they’re on mute or not and then proclaiming that they have a hard stop at a random time that ends in 2.

As a full-time telecommuter I can safely say this is not how it works. At least in the circles in which I travel.

When it’s time to start my workday, I am up, showered, dressed and ready to tackle my career responsibilities at the beginning of the workday. Admittedly, it takes a good amount of discipline to maintain this structure on the darkest of winter days, but the rewards of telecommuting force me to stay focused. I don’t want to lose this gig because of bad work practices. That would be such a petty reason to lose a job.

The key to productive, at least for me, is being properly dressed and more importantly, not working barefoot. Back in my 20s I would work barefoot in the office. I worked at a radio station at the time; the office was in the basement of the owner’s house and I would pad around from studio to workstation in my bare feet like some hippy wannabe. That worked for my 20s, it does not work for a man at the very end of his 40s. I write lots of code, I lead a team of seven, and I am often part of video conference calls, after all, they’re all the rage now. I need to look my best but more importantly, I need to feel like I look my best to be productive. It’s the leader to a great state of mind.

Now, having Virtual Office IL1.02 (my official designation) has its perks. Earl makes me breakfast and lunch 95% of the time. My schedule allows me a little bit of flexibility; I am able to work my most productive hours of the day. I know I need to get my meetings out of the way in the morning because I write better code in the afternoon. I’ve worked from the car on more than one occasion as Earl and I have made our way back east for the holidays or something. Conversely, when I solve a coding problem in my dreams, I can get up, fire up the computer, and write the winning code and then sleep a few extra minutes the following morning. Personally I am most productive working from home. I don’t need the socialization of an office environment. I actually find it very distracting, though when I have worked in the office those around me mean well.

Ideally I want to do a little more of the Digital Nomad thing during the summer months but work replaced my beautiful MacBook Pro with a Dell Ultrabook with a horrible screen resolution (1366×768). I don’t mind Windows 10, but the screen resolution is like trying to write code on an Etch-A-Sketch. This can be frustrating. I hope to have that rectified before the nice weather rolls around.

They say we need to dress for success; dress for the position you want, not the position you have. Working in my PJs would run contrary to this. I might even slip on a tie before the end of the week.

It feels good to look good.