One ironic thing about being made redundant was that in terms of job satisfaction the timing was awful. I had pretty much finally got to a place where I was doing what I wanted. In fact, my JOB SATISFACTION had been on a steady UPWARD TREND for the last few years. There were two main reasons for this.
The first reason was that I was doing more HANDS-ON DEVELOPMENT. I went into IT to code and build stuff. If you are good, the inevitable thing in a corporation is that you end up team leading, project managing and people managing. When you add on supporting, testing, advising, investigating, meeting, Firm bureaucracy, dealing with clients etc, there becomes precious little time for coding. The nature of the business and the squeezing of costs over the last few years, however, had meant that I had ended up working on my core business functions and systems pretty much by myself. That was great! Well by myself in the sense that I was the only dev/support resource supporting a client base in Hong Kong, London, Budapest, and New York, and working with my broader team, and the other quant, testing, IT, and infrastructure teams needed to get things done in a large organisation dealing with Equity Derivatives Risk. So there was still plenty of people to deal with on a daily basis!
It’s also not lost on me that the downsizing and relocation of resource that led to my happy position also contributed to my redundancy, as my job was ultimately moved to another country too, to be absorbed by a team there.
The second reason for my increasing JOB SATISFACTION was that over 8 years I had moved from working in the office with a 4 hr round commute 5 days a week, to WORKING FROM HOME pretty much 5 days a week. The move from 2 to 5 days WFH had happened quickly towards the end of that period.
I’m EXCELLENT at working from home. Some people aren’t. An office is just a desk, chair, phone and computer in my mind. Doesn’t matter where it is. It’s actually harder for me to not work, hence the “Please work responsibly” graphic. It’s a lot easier to work until 22:30, like I did the other night on some research, when you are at home than when you have to leave to get a train home and still function the next day. Conversely, it’s a lot harder to dump that work stress in the split second it takes you to cross the doorway between the study and the rest of the house.
It took me a LONG time to get to 5 days a week. I wished I did it sooner but the biggest barrier to me was getting over the personal feeling of guilt that I should be in the office. In the end, it had to get to the point where there was literally nobody physically in my office 2 hours away that I was working with directly on a day-to-day basis. I was working day-to-day with lots of IT staff and clients but they were all over the world, and the closest was several floors away. The work culture was totally dominated by email, instant messaging, messaging conference rooms, phone and mymeeting screen shares. I had to say to myself, “Look buddy, you can stay at home and stare at screens or you can commute 4 hours and stare at screens. Use your brain!”.
Once I’d got over that I didn’t look back. The enablers that made it seamless for me were:
- Decent broadband – it worked ok before local fibre appeared but local fibre appeared just in time when my kids all became big streamers which would have killed it
- Good Firm provided remote computing
- An ip-hardphone so the office phone and home phone were one and the same and no different to the caller
- A culture of working over email, messaging and phone
- Training colleagues to set up face-to-face meetings. This was the hardest thing. People would say, “Let’s talk when you are in the office”. I would say, “If there is something you want to talk about let’s schedule it now ( can you wait until tomorrow?) and I will come in for that”
The main thing I missed was standing around a whiteboard with people designing stuff or working a problem. can’t do that as effectively if the people are in 4 different locations anyway. The days of going crazy with a quiver of coloured pens had long gone 😦
I’ve a read a few articles recently about the growth of remote working which is very pleasing. This Guardian article deals with several trends in gaming but has some interesting quotes about remote teams. The first is from Rocket Lolly Games:
“Everyone on the team is contracted and works remotely. Most are freelancers but some are small companies too, coming in as needed to deliver the work required. We communicate primarily using Slack and Skype – with weekly calls and daily conversations, and meet up occasionally in person. It doesn’t make sense to build up the overheads, significant burn rate and management time required to run [an office]“
The second is from Grey Alien Games:
“For our current game, Shadowhand, our art team is based in Ukraine, our musician is in The Netherlands, and we are also working with Power Up Audio based in Vancouver, Canada. We communicate primarily by email, which is easier due to different time zones, and we rely heavily on the internet and on cloud storage such as Dropbox and Google Drive to share files.”