Working from home

The past few days have given me additional perspective on my life as a remote worker.

I’ve been acquainting myself with a new codebase: in Javascript, which means I have very little ability to explore, trace, poke at a live instance, etc. when compared to my usual tools. I also didn’t have the advantage of constantly badgering the guy two desks down, which is the typical substitute for understanding!

This, and a curious inability to concentrate, left me quite frustrated yesterday; I had to simply force myself to keep battering my mind against every possible approach until I had gathered enough understanding to make some progress. I’m usually quite imperturbable, but the early days prior to understanding can really rock the boat.

That inability to concentrate is the spark that caused this post. In an office environment, I would have wandered around, perhaps having short conversations with teammates that might have unlocked a door in my work. I also wouldn’t have felt bad about not making measurable progress: being visible and interaction with others is a reasonable substitute, but a remote worker doesn’t have that option. At home, I found myself constantly snapped out of the early stages of The Zone by minor distractions, and I had no outlet for my frustration.

With some consideration I conclude that I would be no more productive or able to concentrate in an office — open-plan is hardly the dictionary definition of monastic seclusion — but I would feel less negative about failure. Commiseration is a powerful thing.

On the other hand, I do get to step out my front door and go vole hunting with my dog, enjoying the beautiful sky and the rolling fields. I don’t think that I would trade this for an office job — even in an office as awesome as Mozilla’s.