During these times we find a huge amount of people starting to work from home. Despite the fact that software development is more adapted to this change than most other careers, it’s still a huge change for individuals who used to work from the office. As one of the many office workers, I was also impacted by this shift and I would like to share my experience.
Software development in itself usually requires minimal social interaction in comparison with other careers. Even if you are in the office you find yourself working on your own ticket most of the time. But when you are working from home it becomes even more lonely. There is no occasional conversation with colleagues or some discussion during lunch. Most of the workday socializing is limited to daily scrum.
Additionally, if you have some issues you want to discuss or need advice for resolving some bug, it seems much easier to come up to a colleague at the office rather than pester them on Slack. However, after several times you’re getting used to sharing screen via Google Meet or Slack, it doesn’t differ too much from regular communication.
On average Canadians spend around 25 minutes commuting to work. I was on the longer side of this scale with 45 minutes for commute, which sums up to 7.5 hours a week. Some of that time can be spent productively (reading articles, listening to audiobooks, etc.). However, when I started to work from home in the end I found a substantial amount of additional time each week which can be spent on other activities.
Time spent working from home emphasized to me how much software development is a physically inactive job. When I went to the office I still had to spend some time outside catching a bus. But now, when I am working from home and especially with pandemic outside I found myself leaving home only once a week to stock up on groceries. And after several weeks I found myself craving this bit of physical activity I had before. In the end, I found a substitute in the form of playing table tennis several times a week.
When you are working from home, you seem to have a more flexible schedule. You can start working later than you usually do or take longer lunch breaks. At first glance, it definitely seems like a big advantage, however after a week of taking longer lunch breaks it seemed to me that I was spending more time working, although, in summary, I was working the same hours as I was in the office. This part more than any other depends on your preferences, but for myself I found that it’s better to start with sticking with a schedule you built up at the office, making changes only if necessary. This allows for a much smoother transition to working from home.
Work is an essential part of our day to day life, but it’s also important to find some separation between it and other activities. At first, I found it a bit daunting working in the same room where I spend most of my free time. It just seemed that line between work and leisure time getting blurred out. However, in some time this feeling disappeared on its own. Although I can imagine some physical separation could help as well, for example, if there is a possibility to arrange an equivalent of ‘home office’ and only use it for work that could help with the transition.
In conclusion, shifting to work from home presents several challenges, such as finding your balance and finding what works specifically for you. However, it also presents many benefits and possibilities to learn something new, in the end becoming more efficient and flexible at what you do.