After a routine software update yesterday, my work laptop suddenly refused to boot. That was a bit scary, and left me stressed out. You see, I’m working remote, and the rest of our IT department is located about 1000 km away. Which pretty much meant “You’re on your own, kid. If you can’t solve this yourself, then you won’t have a workstation for a few days.”
This is the first time, however, that I actually had to reflect on my working conditions as a remote worker. I have a home office set up, complete with a stand-up desk, a Fatboy bean bag, and multi-function printer. I do the lion part of my work on my laptop, hooked up to the compay VPN. Inter-team communication is done using Campfire and daily telephone meetings. In many ways, this is just like working at the office, except a) I can blast whatever I want on the stereo, and b) I don’t get dragged into meetings as often as I used to.
Working alone does mean that I’m not just a developer anymore; I’m also responsible for first-line support for my own equipment. If the wifi goes down, no-one will fix it except me. If the laptop bombs out, I’ll either have to solve it myself, or find some way of setting up a temporary workspace on one of the ancient machines I have lying about until the company can send me a replacement.
Apart from that, I have no complaints about working alone. When I tell people about my situation, they usually go “Aaah, but you’ve got to have such self dicipline to be working from home.” The assumption being, that as soon as you don’t have someone looking over your shoulder, you will immediately revert to spending your working time goofing off. I don’t get that. When I’m working, I’m working. Same as if I were at the office. And there’s nothing special about me. In fact, I’m a pretty lazy guy.
I got the laptop working again, after an agonizing hour of recovery mode reboots, random fiddling with the BIOS and finally reinstalling the X server and proprietary NVIDIA drivers.