Re: Home Alone

Subject: Re: Home Alone
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997 07:00:22 PST

A coworker of mine (Bob Wallis, who was the Senior Scientist at WEITEK
for many years) showed me how one should work from home. Some
important rules are:

* Be in the office on a predictable schedule, so people can see you, and
so you can wander around and discover what's going on. Bob found that
one day per week was often enough.

* Be accessible. Bob always answered the phone on the first ring,
and was willing to help anyone with any kind of problem. (It was
this attitude that made him start working from home in the first
place. There was often a line outside his office at work, but
few people bugged him more than absolutely necessary over the

* Keep regular hours. Bob always seemed to be in his office during
normal working hours.

When I started working from home two days per week myself, I discovered
that one good day at home was equivalent to two or three good days at
work. I worked at home the same two days every week, so everyone who
dealt with me on a regular basis knew where I was.

I tried to keep the intensity level high. Since I *could* get lots of
work done in the home office, I strove to always accomplish this. If
I didn't have much to do, or felt too tired or too unready to approach my
next task, I'd drive into the office, where someone whould shanghai me
into their crisis du jour and I'd work on their problems instead of mine
for a while.

I consider a portable phone, a fax machine, voicemail, and email to be
minimum requirements for a home office. You should strive to have a
setup that's equivalent to the work setup -- and learn how to be a system
admin for it, whatever it is. (I have three PCs -- each with a different
version of Windows -- and a SPARCstation at home. I like the SPARCstation
best, but it's a boat anchor unless you have UNIX system administration

I don't hold with the idea that you can get away with slower, less
capable computers at home than at work. Even if you work only one day
a week at home, you'll find that virtually all your high-energy work
is done at home, and you're crippling yourself if you use pokey old
hardware. It's better to put the old junk on your desk at work and
take the good stuff home.

It's also wise to have a reliable transfer high-density transfer medium
(not floppy disks) that can double as a backup medium. 100 MB disk
cartridges (such as the Zip drive) are a working minimum. Buy two;
they're cheap.

You also should have a network dial-in if your company isn't in the Old
Stone Age. This is especially useful for retrieving files that you
forgot to bring home.

Other than that, you need peace and quiet, an adequate work space,
a good stereo, and a well-stocked refrigerator, and you'll be all set.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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