Reflections on working (really) remotely

For most of Paradyne’s (almost) 5 year history we have been a work from home based business.

Recently this has been put to the test by my temporary move overseas with my family, and I wanted to share some thoughts and learnings.

In my blog post before leaving Australia I called out that as long as I had Internet connectivity – I was “in the office”. The reality of that is that quality Internet is a key factor – not just any connectivity.

Over the course of the first week in Seattle I found that an ageing cable modem in my apartment and connection issues at several Regus offices made working quite challenging. I often had to resort to Internet tethering from my phone (I have a local SIM with a sizeable data plan), or use my Surface as the access device while my mobile phone was used to make Lync calls.

After resolving the issue with the cable modem I have been able to enjoy high quality audio/video conferencing sessions – so much that I sat in for a half-day education event with our team in Melbourne via a dedicated Surface with video.

The next challenge to overcome was isolation and team interactivity. While I am over here with my family it was still somewhat challenging that I could not simply jump in a car and meet up with any of my team members, partners or customers (the former being the most common). Working Australian days and times has helped a great deal, but still didn’t overcome it completely.

While here in Seattle I was fortunate enough to spend a week at the MVP Summit in Redmond and connect with many friends and colleagues which helped break up the worked-based physical solitude. Not long after that a variety of folks from Microsoft Australia coincidentally were in Redmond for meetings – again allowing for face to face physical interaction.

We’ve been here for almost 6 weeks now and will be heading to Vancouver the day after Thanksgiving. We’ll be spending 4 weeks there, some of which will be leave.

What I take from this experience is that while the technology is more than capable for doing whatever I required to get my work done and interact with my team – for an outgoing personality like myself the remote nature can be quite challenging.

Many studies have been done on teleworking / remote working and the psychological effects, however to experience it first hand is quite different.

Do not get me wrong – I do not regret this experience. On a personal note it has allowed me to spend more daytime hours with my family than previously possible due to the fact my work day starts at 1:30pm locally. On a professional note being this close to Redmond for an extended period has allowed far greater and richer interactions than my usual short stays. It’s just been “interesting” to live and breathe it.

Until next time!

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