As you all know (if you’ve read my about me page), I’m a consultant and travel… a LOT. Other than the occasional whines here and there, I haven’t really told you what that means. There are a lot of different types of consultants, so I want to give you a little more insight into the type of consulting I do. In simple terms I work for a large company full of consultants and we are then hired by other companies to help them with specific projects or needs that they have. They may need one consultant to help them solve some minor issues they have, or a team of hundreds to help them through a crisis. I tend to work on projects with small teams (2-6 people) helping define and implement strategy and overall problem solving. On a normal project I will fly out to the client site first thing Monday morning and fly home late Thursday night. Fridays I either work from home or our main office and get ready to hit the road again on Monday. Recently though, things have been very different for me. I’ve been working on multiple projects simultaneously and several have been “remote”. This means I have been able to work from my home office which is just steps away from my bedroom! You may think that working from home is the best thing in the world…and about 95% of the time it is… but there are certainly some downsides too. I want to walk you through the good, the bad, and possibly the ugly of working from home – as I see it!
Work Clothing – One of the worst parts of my job is that I have to wear a suit and tie at most of the client sites. I can’t tell you how much I hate getting dressed up – I’d much rather be wearing shorts and a t-shirt/polo but apparently this isn’t deemed “work appropriate” for some reason? Well, at the Aspiring Blogger Offices (ABO for short), if I show up in shorts and a t-shirt, the office manager approves of my attire.
Shaving – I hate to shave, I really do. I prefer the natural look when it comes to facial hair, and at the ABO it is 100% approved. When I work at a client site I am expected to look neat and clean – well there’s definitely no rules like that here!!
Eating – I try to be a pretty frugal person, which means that when I’m working at a local client, I bring my lunch to work. Even when I’m working on a project out of town, I try and make lunch so I don’t have to eat out for every lunch. I can’t tell you how old this gets – well, at the ABO, I have a full kitchen stocked with everything I might want! This means I can make fresh salads, sandwiches, or anything else my stomach desires! It also means that if I’m hungry at 11:30am – I can eat, or I can wait until 2pm if I feel like it.
Commuting – My typical workweek involves getting up freakishly early on Monday morning, hopping an early flight to a crappy town, getting a rental car, driving to a crappy office building, then spending long hours mostly at this crappy office building and a few at a crappy hotel over the next few days before reversing the process and arriving home exhausted (hopefully) on Thursday night. When I work at the ABO I can get up later, eat my breakfast out on the back patio with the dogs, and then walk to the office. From the back patio to the office is only about 15 seconds, so it’s a pretty easy commute. Sometimes I’ll stop and grab coffee or water – which adds time – but it’s still a much easier commute than traveling to a client site!
Crappy People – I sometimes get stuck with crappy teammates, and when I’m working from home they’re either on the other end of the phone or talking to me on instant messenger – not staring at me across a conference room table or huddled next to me in a cramped office – SCORE!!!!
Less Awesome Parts
Long Hours – I typically start work early and end the day late. While I’d be doing this at a client site, I seem to add in all the commute time as well and work even longer. I can spend hours on end stuck on calls trying to work out small details that would be much easier to fix in person – so some of that is a result of the working from home setup. So while I’m working from home, I’m still working… a lot – which can get old pretty fast. At least the ABO has nice facilities so it’s not a bad place to spend time! Definitely don’t think that just because you’re working from home you’ll be able to work less – I think most people working from home end up working more – I’m sure there’s a study out there about that…
Stuck in Place – At a client site I will typically spend a lot of time at my desk/computer, but will also spend time interacting with the client and other team members. As I’m working by myself, my interactions are limited to those on the other end of the internet connection. I stay connected to my colleagues through instant messenger and phone calls, but it does mean I’m stuck sitting behind my desk practically ALL DAY. At times cabin fever sets in and I just go out to the grocery store / gas station / etc to get out…but I can’t do that all the time!
Social Interaction – As it’s just me and the dogs in the ABO, my social interaction with actual human beings is limited when I’m working from home. I definitely enjoy when the UPS/FedEx/USPS trucks roll up because I can typically get a bit of real life conversation out of them! I also try and have lunch with friends if possible – but as we’ve moved, a lot of my friends live VERY far a way – which makes it tough to have lunch in a decent amount of time.
At the end of the day, I still prefer working at home to going to a client site. To me, the positives vastly outweigh the negatives. Having said that, I do enjoy having an office that I’m able to go into if I ever feel like it. While my current office is 40ish miles away, I have a client office a little closer that I can go to and get some client office that I will visit more frequently. This is a good balance for me right now as it lets me work from home the majority of the time – where I feel more productive – and also get that human interaction when I desire. I know that working from home won’t last forever – sooner or later I’ll be back on the road, but for now I’m going to enjoy it! When I reach financial independence my goal is to be able to work from wherever I want – and even to travel while doing it (that’s the location independence part). So hopefully I can reach FI sooner rather than later!
All this talk about human interaction has made me think about going to my other office. It has comfortable chairs, lots of social interaction, good coffee, and WiFi – it’s perfect for my needs. Of course, I’m talking about my local Starbucks – and I think I’ll head over there now – so thanks for reading, bye!
Do you work from home or an office? Which do you prefer? What’s your dream working setup? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for stopping by.