On Telecommuting (and Shorter Working Hours)

And so I have been working at the new work place for about a month now - which located quite far away from where I live.

Commuting to work involves bus trip to the Central Station, followed by train from Central to Blacktown and another bus trip from Blacktown station to the office. All up it’s about 1h 40m one way. Previously work was located conveniently 8km away from where I live, which normally takes 30-40 mins commuting by bus. So naturally, at first it was a major concern for me and my wife - we weren’t sure how this would affect our family life.

However after been doing it for 4 weeks now - it’s actually not too bad, in fact it works quite well.

First of all, the whole longer time commute works because of:

  • Shorter work hour (9-5) as opposed to 9-6 previously
  • Flexible working hours arrangement.
Because of the earlier finishing time - I ended coming home about the same time as before. I do have to leave home 45 minutes earlier than before though - so morning is more hectic than before. But there’s a solution to that. This is where point no 2 kicks in - the folks there are quite relaxed about starting time and even with how many hours per week. I don’t have to work 37.5 hours week if I don’t want to. Since I am a contractor I got paid based on the hours that I worked.

I also found that 9 to 5 working hour (with 30 mins lunch + 2 x 10mins coffee breaks) feels right with the way my body and mind work. I am usually quite intense when coding and my limit is usually around 5 hours after that my concentration deteriorates and I won’t be as productive. That’s why working long hour (especially overtime) will not work with me - I will take note to myself to never take a role that requires long working hour (if possible).

Another plus point - telecommuting time gives me opportunity to be efficient with my time. Now I have about an hour a day in train that I can use for something productive. Naturally, I use the time for my personal development time mostly - now the good thing about it is, when I got home I am really done - I have done both my professional work and my own personal learning - so I can just wind down without feeling any guilt.

Now the learning bit is very important as I am working with 2 technologies that I have limited experience in (Flex and Ruby). My learning so far take in the following forms:

  • Watching Flex in a week video training
  • Watching various screencasts in particular Vimcasts and Railscasts
  • Coding Ruby - doing Ruby koans, just hacking around, playing around with IRB/PRY
  • Reading Ruby and Rails books - still reading Well Grounded Rubyist.
  • Doing some work, very rarely that I feel the need to do extra work outside the 9-5 block (which I do for free and I don’t mind doing since it’s helping me with my personal learning anyway)
Beside learning - I’m also using the time to work on the backlog of my (non-technical) books to read - the latest being this one.