Can you help me real quick? – Home Office!

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Hi, 

my name is Kai and I work from home. My home office journey started when my first child was born in 2014. I didn’t switch to home office immediately; it actually took me another 5 years to be finally convinced that this is the best working mode for my current circumstances. 

Why did I switch?  

I never thought I would move to home office exclusively, ever! I was all about being in the office, enjoying the coffee and kitchen chat as well as being very keen on working in the office. How would I be able to work from home without talking to my direct peers?

In retrospect I was right at that point in time, but something drastic changed in 2016 and suddenly, my team was completely distributed around the globe. There was no need any more to be in the office apart from talking to other colleagues and enjoying time with them. 

At the same time some projects had explicit NDA rules; I wasn’t allowed to take half of my calls at my desk and had to move to a meeting room or somewhere else to speak freely. This really annoyed me after a while as it felt like I wasn’t keen on spending time with my other mates in the office and isolating myself. The team distribution combined with the NDA rules fostered my decision making.   

This was the point when I started to work from home from time to time. Initially once a week, then a full week, and I started to enjoy it more and more and finally got stuck with it. Almost at the same time two other colleagues from the office decided to work from home as well and so the decision was finally made. At the beginning of 2019, I had my contract adapted to “location: home office”. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually a chatty guy and I enjoy being physically present and being able to talk to others, but I realized that in my day-to-day job this has no real benefit anymore. I had to slightly adapt my working mode as I initially stepped into the trap where I started rather early in the morning and I was still there after everyone else left.

I had to learn that the presence of the computer shouldn’t have an impact on my working hours and it got better over time. It got a lot better after I started powering off my workstation when I’m done for the day, so that even if I go back to my office there is no need to check my inbox, GitHub tracker or anything else.  

In the meanwhile, home office is a real pleasure for me. It gives me the freedom and flexibility to structure my work and private life at the same time. I have the possibility to enjoy lunch and dinner with my family or to spend a morning with the kids if we feel like it. It’s not like this happens that often but it happens from time to time, and this really shows me the great mental impact home office has on me.  

There is of course the other side of the coin as well. Whenever I wish to have this one call without interruptions, I can bet that one of my kids is going to visit me for a “Hi, what’s up?” or “Hi dad, could you help me real quick? No? But I need it now!”. It’s understandable as both of my kids are rather young and it’s sometimes hard for them, but it got better. It is just convenient for them, that dad is at home and they could reach out to me whenever they need me but they’re also aware that this is his work, so they shouldn’t do it twenty times a day.  

By far the best thing on earth is the community in my small village. Even if the Covid pandemic had the effect that more and more people had to work from home (at least for a while), the people here are just not used to it. I think there are people out there that believe that I’m unemployed as otherwise they can’t explain how I’m being able to bring the kids to school or how I can do grocery shopping at 8AM while everyone else is already at work. They show me that over and over again: “Hi Kai, are you on vacation this week?” or “Hey, starting late today?” or “What’s up? Is your wife doing ok?”. 

Initially I tried to be helpful and communicative. I took the time and tried to explain what I’m doing and how it is possible to do all of that from home. I gave up on that as I realized after a while that I lost people after my second sentence. They can’t imagine how it’s possible to work from home at all. If this wasn’t enough there are also our neighbors or family and friends that like to call me at almost any time to get some help for something.

“You are at home anyway, right?” – “This shouldn’t take long, just come over real quick!”.

This really drives me nuts. At first I dropped everything to help but I learned to organize their requests around my work schedule. I just wanted to share with you my ongoing journey switching to home office and this isn’t really a straight line but it’s definitely a learning curve for my community, my family and myself.

I love working from home but…(sorry someone is knocking at my door)..”How about today?”

“As long as the delivery guy still believes I’m unemployed, I can help you real quick!”. 

 

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Kai Wagner
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Kai Wagner

Team Lead Automotive Linux