Re: Home Alone

Subject: Re: Home Alone
From: Mitch Berg <mberg -at- IS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997 09:31:06 -0600

Having spent a fair chunk of time at home, I echo all of Robert's materiel

> * 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.

This was ABSOLUTELY essential. Most clients are nervous enough about
having you out of eyesight, in my experience. (In most cases, my working
at home was a cost-saving measure on their part - no need to build out a
> * Be accessible.
> * Keep regular hours.

> I tried to keep the intensity level high.

I think that working at home depends on a certain "critical mass" of
intensity. Below that threshold, it's too easy to turn on Jenny Jones and
nuke a pizza. Above that level, I found myself, like Robert, many times
more productive at home.
> I consider a portable phone, a fax machine, voicemail, and email to be
> minimum requirements for a home office.

I got along just fine without the portable phone. But I highly recommend a
laptop. More below.

> 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.

I agree. However, in the interest of cost-saving, I bought a really hot
386/25 laptop (with modem, 8mbRam/80mbHD, $250 on clearance). For basic
word processing and RoboHelp <=v3.0, it's been adequate - I do all the
really processor-intensive stuff on the P100 anyway. Someday, I'll get the
ThinkPad, but the 386 has been a lifesaver...

> 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.

One of my favorite episodes: One gorgeous day last July, I was working on
my porch, with the laptop, writing help files. (I had my phone and pager,
just in case). I called a pal of mine at an old company (a Fortune 500
shop where I'd been "reengineered" some time earlier). He uncorked a
litany of Dilbert/Sartre-esque woes - management idiocy, downsizing,
haggling with sysadmins to get 500MB harddrives - even their CUBES were
being downsized (from 9x9 to 8x6)!

I told him, perhaps impolitically, "Yeah, I can relate. I'm out of ice for
my margaritas!"

(Note to the overly literal - I was NOT drinking on the job. Just enjoying
the notion that I COULD if I wanted to...)

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