• Well I was going to write a follow up blog about working from home…   That was a couple of years ago.

My head is just over the water.   That’s a good thing because I love to be busy.   That’s a bad thing because I’ve had to learn how to saw no.   I’m not very good at it.  I usually just do the job, and work more hours.   OK, that was before I hit a little over 80 hours in one week.   Now I’m trying to find a better balance.

So working from home:

  • I am a self-starter.I do make sure I am available 7 AM – 4 PM.  Normal hours.  Usually a lot more than that.
  • I DO make my estimated dates, unless another 200 things pop up and then I document.

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  • I do not get dressed for work.   😉   You can usually find me in a t-shirt and sweats.  Hair brushed – optional.  No makeup.  See above.   I do look like a bit of a beached whale – but oh well, it’s for a good cause.
  • I do still get up an hour early.   I like to check to see if I have more things I need to do for the day.   I also need to wake up.  Tea – I love black tea.   My favorite is a Scottish blend.  I love my machine that makes my warm team in the morning too!
  • I do have an office.  Complete with two large monitors.  I do use it.   However, most of the time, you can find me in my recliner with my laptop on the arm of the chair.   Working away.   It just depends on if I need 2 monitors or not.
  • I rarely drive anywhere.
  • My productivity is high.   I get a lot done.   A whole lot done.   If I didn’t, I’m sure I’d be fired.   You have to be motivated by the work.   And actually it helps if you are like me.   I’ve always loved the technical side of SAP.  So I’m at home doing what I love.  (Most of the time.)
  • I am a solitary person.  That’s a good thing.   I like to do some heads down work.  But with IM, WebEx, and Skype that doesn’t happen very often.

So do I Like it:

  • No, I love it.
  • My normal work hours at my job was 7 – 4.   Then I would work over.   Not as much as my work at home job, but I wasn’t at home.  However, at home I can usually take a break and hear about my son’s day.
  • I don’t drive to work.   I DON’T DRIVE TO WORK.   Forget about dealing with bad weather.  I live in Michigan – we get bad weather a lot.
  • When I get annoyed, I no longer have to school my features.  I can even put my phone on mute and spit and sputter.  Then I can get back on and be reasonable when presenting alternatives.  WooHoo!   I always had issues with that before.  I tend to get emotional when I feel strongly about something.
  • My dog climbs into my lap during meetings.   You have to love that.   Petting him makes me much more reasonable.
  • My music is no longer in my headphones it is on a stereo.  Much better for my ears.

The bad:

  • Hours – what hours?   I work an average of 40 hours extra a month.   Really it’s not as bad as it sounds.
  • I had to learn to say no.  I worked 80 plus hours one week.  I was starting to burn out and had to say no. No more.
  • My company is global.  Sounds cool right?  What it means is someone is usually on line 24 hours a day.  Right now no one is working on Saturday.  So you guessed it.  That means it’s transport day.  So there is some minor support that is needed then.
  • And so – the obvious, with no time to waste, I rarely post or read SCN.   I do use the forums to find answers to issues, and then feel guilty when I don’t give back.  I keep thinking things will slow down.   Maybe?
  • I do travel.  Not very much though.  They like to keep those costs down.  I have met some of the people I work with.   Keep in mind we are in MANY different countries.
  • This year I missed D-Com (Teched).   😥   It was the first time in years.  Last year, even working from home, I did go.

Outside of working from home challenges:

  • My company – I am the only internal SAP developer.   What does that mean – I work a lot with off-shore consultants.   It’s just different.   Sometimes, the hours between our work schedules are an issue.
  • There isn’t a code review practice in place.  That is hurting us.  Yes, I believe my code should be reviewed as well.  There will be, it just takes time that we don’t have right now.
  • I honestly have lost track of how many off-shore consultants.  My boss would know.
  • I struggle to be able to do new project work.  Mostly I do support work.   Not the most fun thing to do.   That’s really why I increase my hours so much.  I want to make time for a fun project.
  • Working through some really bad code.  I mean really bad.  The kind you want to throw out and start over.   But you don’t dare to, because it might break something you don’t know about.  (And yes, there is good code too)
  • And last, hoping that you stay an employee.   Yes, I know this is everywhere.  They have outsourced so much to off-shore.  And I do work from home…  But I would have that wherever I worked.  More and more countries are moving to an off-shore model.
  • I LOVE the people I work with.  They are all motivated, friendly, helpful, professional, and I could go on and on.   These guys are top of the line.   I can’t believe how well we connect.   Some of them, I’ve met in person.  Some I haven’t.

So is it for everyone?

  • Doubtful.  A good friend of mine worked from home for a while.   After she determined that she was working more hours from home than as an individual consultant on the road.   She took back to the road.  And she was good at working from home, she just didn’t like the longer hours.
  • If you aren’t a self starter.  DO NOT DO THIS.   You have to set hours, and keep to them. 

So there you have it.  My experiences working from home.   And a little extra feedback too!  Feel free to ask questions, and add feedback.  If you work from home – what has been you experience?  Do you like it?

And now you know why my blogs and comments have slowed down.  (OK – so they stopped for a while.)  Sorry guys.  I’m going to try to at least comment on things.  I am still using SCN.   I feel bad not giving back.

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20 Comments

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  1. Martin English

    Interesting feed back, Michelle,

      To add to your point about project work (or the lack thereof), I’ve found that project work requires a lot more personal contact to get things organised and done quickly. Things will still get done when working remotely, but the ability to walk up to someone’s desk and say “I need the new test plan now” has a bit more impact than an email that can be conveniently filed in the to-do folder. Additionally, Project Managers (especially the good ones) have this pathological need to be able to talk to you right now. They don’t always use it, but they “need’ it like you need your morning tea 🙂 . Having one or more team members working remotely makes this harder for them, so when it comes time to build the project team, I think they have a bias against people in this situation. And (for me anyway) it’s your personality type; if you’re like me, the technology is the easy part of this business !!

    If you hear about an interesting new project, it may be worthwhile pointing out the extra hours you do and why – For example, working from home means a two hour (or more) head start on work compared to commuting. I always emphasise that this situation suits me and my family, that I’m thankful for it, and that I will put in extra effort to make the arrangement work. The hard part is keeping up with the informal networks that let you get a heads up on these things; I don’t really have an answer for that yet.

    hth

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    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      Thank you for the comment!!!   Great idea.  I will try to let them know how much extra work I’d be willing to do.  

      Although to tell you the truth…   All developers are remote.   There is me, another contract developer in the US and then a boat load of off-shore developers.

      I also have a totally FUN company.   Almost everyone I work with, works remotely.   It is in more countries than I can count.    The PMs, functional people, technical people are all remote.   The testing group is remote as well!   Cool, huh?  Almost all IT people are remote.

      So there isn’t much of an informal heads-up.  

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    2. Jelena Perfiljeva

      Martin English wrote:

      Additionally, Project Managers (especially the good ones) have this pathological need to be able to talk to you right now.

      Sometimes I feel that the understanding of object permanence concept that babies master by 9 months or so is taken away with the PM certification. 🙂

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      1. Tammy Powlas

        I’m a PMP and my brother says I’m a “do it right now” type of person.  Guilty. As charged.

        Very nice to see the great Michelle Crapo back on SCN; we’ve missed her!

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        1. Martin English

          I’m a “do it right now” type of person.

          You prefer agile prototyping project management methods (PMs never use one 2 cent word when they can find a couple of $10 ones).

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  2. Hendra Mahadina

    Dear Michelle,

    Wow, you are so amazing with you style of working. But still remember get healthy. Please also buy something tool to exercise your body. Get better long live.

    If I work from home.

    —————————–

    What has been you experience?

    Until now I never working continues like you in home. But sometime in project, we also working in Hotel / Guest House. Off course weekend also include.

    Do you like it?

    For me, I like it. Because if I can work in Home. I can have more time with my family.

    If we tired, we can sleep. And continue working after wake up.

    Regards,

    HM

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    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      Hi Hendra,

      Yes, I totally agree – I do need to get exercising.   I have a lot of excuses why I haven’t.   But none of them are good ones.    (NO more pictures for me in blogs.)  😆

      Sounds like you put in even more hours than I do when you “work from home”.   
      I try to keep 60 hours or under a week.   Sometimes I work more – sometimes I actually work close to that 40 hour mark.

      Thank you for your comments!

      Michelle

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  3. abilash n

    Hi Michelle,

    I completely Agree with all comments but to my experience we will loose some professional growth if we do WFH…..(as we miss F2F contact with all). Its just my personal feeling.. Apart from that everything will be excellent as we are boss in our house 😉

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    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      Yes – I do wonder about that F2F time.    I guess I am at a point where I love what I do!   My next 5 year plan includes expanding on what I know.  I have a couple of new functional areas I want to pick up knowledge in – EWMS is one of them.  Add new techniques to my code. 

      But notice, I didn’t say anything about advancement.  I guess It’s not one of my top priorities.

      Now I will say you miss F2F time, but you still get a reputation at work.   The more high visibility fixes and projects you work on, the more you get visibility.   That does help.   Also you get your WebEx meeting time where you can shine as well.

      It’s a very valid point.   There is nothing like F2F time.

      Thank you for the comment!

      Michelle

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  4. Stephen Johannes

    It’s good see that you haven’t disappeared completely.  Thanks for sharing this as it’s quite interesting to see how full-time remote work is like.  It’s interesting on your perspective working from home full-time as my experience with part-time wfh is similar but different.  My “office” is now a branch office so essentially I work remote(but not from home) 100% of the time.  It’s definitely a challenge sometimes at making sure you stay connected properly with your collegaues in other locations who aren’t doing related work, but within your department.

    I know you mentioned you primarily get support work, but does your company use AGILE at all for projects?  The reason why I ask is that AGILE primarily assumes people are physically co-located, but it woudl interesting to see agile applied for teams that are distributed.

    Take care,

    Stephen

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    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      Agile… Uhm… No?  I believe we are closest to waterfall.

      Here it is:
      1. Planning

      2. Design that overlaps development

      3. Development overlaps testing

      4. Testing / UAT overlaps training

      5. Training

      6. Hypercare

      Planning is happening throughout all the steps.

      Basically waterfall.   However, things can change and move within this.   There is a project Quotes.   We take a small group of requirements from the list each time – and run it through the above cycle.  Then we take some more and do it again.

      We do have projects that need to be implemented outside of a release.  So we run and do them on a different timeline.

      We are taking advantage of Charm.   With Charm, the systems can be put into different states based upon the release of the project.   As I write this, I wonder how Agile would work with Charm.   Anyway – at the very end of our release the testing client should be calm with as little transports as possible for integration changing.

      Our release schedule is changing..   The scope is constantly changing until the testing system is locked down.

      Agile?????

      Yes I have been to several different SCRUM sessions. (although it’s not really called that.)   Aome of the time we do meet in one place.   Sometimes we use our tools – WebEx is a big one that we use.

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      1. Stephen Johannes

        Had to ask since I’m always looking for that distributed agile project example, which I believe is a unicorn. 

        My projects usually run like a continous improvement cycle.  Not quite agile, not quite waterfall.  Things can change, even upon go-live 🙂 .

        Take care,

        Stephen

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  5. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Nice to hear from you, Michelle! I wasn’t at TechEd this year either, so you haven’t missed much. 🙂

    I’ve been working from home part-time for a while and am trying to do more of it. On some days when driving back from office through the rain I catch myself thinking: “Why on earth did I spend all this time dressing up and driving to the office in the first place?”. To add to the “pros” you’ve already noted – I only fill up the car every other week and my clothing and makeup budget shrunk significantly. Not only I need to drive less to work but I also need to drive less to the mall to buy things to look presentable at the office. This is super-green! 🙂 I also feel less stressed due to less driving and more time with my cat and kid (although with the kid stress levels could go either way).

    We have a very small team at work, so saying “no” and sticking to reasonable timelines is the matter of survival and I have no problem with that. But I do notice quite frequently that when working from home it’s sometimes difficult to just ‘switch off’. It’s probably especially true for the developers – just when you think you’d get done quickly some unexpected problem pops up and then you can’t leave it because it’ll haunt you all night anyway. Occupational hazard, I guess. 🙂

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    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      Ah good to here!   I’m sorry you missed TechEd.  It’s so much fun.

      Thank you for the comment – what can I say?  I totally agree.  I hope you get to work from home more often.

      Michelle

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  6. Kumud Singh

    Michelle, it’s so nice to hear you again! How are you?

    My take on WFH would be based on the priority at a particular stage of life. In normal situation I would prefer my cubicle but if I also need to be a responsible mother along with a developer, I would request for WFH even if it involves working for more hours.

    Regards,

    Kumud

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  7. Akshay Chavan

    Dear Michelle,

    Can you please share, which company you are working for?

    I would love to work from home as you do.

    I am a certified SAP ABAP Consultant and have around 5 Yrs of SAP ABAP Experience.

    I am from India.

    How can I get such kind of opportunity?

    Thanks.

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