The Job Experience, MegaSoftwareCoSupport: Year #11

Working From Home


MegaSoftwareCo doesn’t really mind people working from home.  Heck, some people do all of their work remotely.

Once I started taking tickets again, I decided to do the same.

For the next month, I logged in from the comfort of my living room and went at it.  And I learned that there are pros and cons to this arrangement.

After a few weeks, I feel distant from everything.  Without the stimulus of being physically present with other people, there’s a hollowness inside that wasn’t there before. It’s difficult to articulate, but my guess is that I was lonely.

Let me clarify something here. It isn’t that I didn’t interact with people.  I was engaging people constantly.  Over any given business day, I sent twenty or thirty emails, received forty, and plugged into multiple instant messenger chatrooms full of teammates.  This volume of social interaction doesn’t even count phone calls with customers, which took up a minimum of three to four hours a day.

After a month of working from home exclusively, I realized that the whole work-from-home-every-day thing isn’t good for me.  So I head back into the offices again for a few days a week, just to see people. Problem basically solved.

Look, it’s important to physically get together with other people, in general.  At least, it is for me.   Virtual interactions are a synthetic substitute for real social activity, sort of like drinking liquid meals.  Sure, those packets of powder are fortified with vitamins and, when mixed with milk, satisfy all of your nutritional requirements and keep you alive.  But your body knows something’s wrong.  You can’t trick it entirely because it understands that this is not real food and so you’re still hungry and you just feel kind of off.

Two days a week was sufficient.  I’d make sure to go to lunch with a few of my old engineering friends from StartupVille, maybe shoot the breeze with my old manager over coffee, and just say hi to random people to get a glimpse of how their day was going.

It also became more important for me to see friends after work.

The core issue here is that all of my virtual teammates felt like exactly that — virtual.  I know they physically take up space in the world somewhere but still, they just didn’t seem real to me.  On the one hand, I was a part of a team, but on the other hand, these folks were all invisible.  In theory, we fought the goblin horde of customers together, but in practice, they couldn’t really be counted on, because we had no real connections with one another.

So when the going got tough, I felt isolated and alone. There was no one to rely on.  It was me and a bunch of floaty Caspers going to war against an opposition that was, on the other hand, 100% genuine, with mass and weight and everything.

Yeah, I have backup, but they're not exactly alive.

Would my ghost-like teammates fulfill their oath and support me?
Probably not.


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10 Responses to The Job Experience, MegaSoftwareCoSupport: Year #11

  1. Dwayne Hoover says:

    When you were getting towards the end here, did you ever consider the option of simply working PT but extending the journey to FI by a few years?

    • livingafi says:

      Absolutely, I’d much prefer to work part time. Problem is that I don’t think it’s possible on the IT/Engineering Support side of things. Sometimes strict programmers/developers can manage this sort of arrangement, but organizations only have FT positions available for support — my guess is that this is because of rigid availability requirements. I’d love to hear from any readers that think I’m wrong or can share ways to go about making it happen though.

  2. Steph says:

    When I was a wage slave it was in an open plan office, I actually would have loved a soulless cube. I began to really hate some people as I just couldn’t get away from them and I wasn’t allowed headphones to help me concentrate above everybody’s voices. Introverts and open plan offices (4 people to one bank of desks) are not a very good mix. Sometimes I would pretend I needed to make a private phonecall so I could go into an empty office and sit there in peace for a few minutes.
    At one point everyone was offered voluntary redundancy and I took it and ran. It was enough to pay off our mortgage as our house was v modest. The year after I left (I was pregnant by this point) I bought another small house and renovated it and sold on for a nice profit. I haven’t really worked since having my daughter but knowing how to live frugally is very freeing and gives us as a family so many more options. A bit of a rambling comment, sorry.

    • livingafi says:

      That’s really tough. I didn’t get into it in this post but my cube was right next to sales at Mega and those guys were also on the phone constantly, very loud, and frequently talking about very obnoxious non-PC things that really get under your skin. It’s great you were able to responsibly get away from that job and spend more time with your family, very cool. “Voluntary redundancy.” Love that corporate-ese.

  3. Good stuff, sounds like the next update will shed light on what makes FU money so important. Even better if it’s FI money! Real world issues (and vacations) have killed my blogging lately, but I need to get revved back up. Lots of interesting things going on.

    • livingafi says:

      I’ve had some of my own real life things going on as well (mom moved to senior housing last weekend, had to clean out a house of clutter and list it. More than ‘clutter’ actually but that’s another story.) Family’s first, though, much more important than blogging or my day job. I have been looking forward to more details on your lifestyle inflation posts, though. Get em out, please! 🙂 BTW, yeah, if you enjoy reading about incomprehensibly awful jobs and insane people, you’re going to love Year 12 but hate the final entry (Year 13-present), because I found another really nice place to ply my trade.

  4. I eagerly await Cthulu-119, the radioactive isotope of vanilla ‘Thu.

  5. Tom says:

    In retirement, I’m finding those home improvement and maintenance costs creep in more frequently than I would have expected. Little things here and there – and some bigger ones. I try to adhere to a pretty low budget, for now, so those costs tend to upset the cart a little despite primarily doing the work myself. Not sure these will ever go away completely – it’s always something.

    When I first had an opportunity to occasionally work from home back in the mid-90’s I had a very difficult time getting much work done, due mostly to lack of motivation (and probably because the technology for working remotely wasn’t what it is today). Funny aside – I was making a long distance call one day from home and dialed 9, then 1, for an outside line (as if in the office) out of habit and accidentally hit 1 a second time. Imagine my surprise when the cops showed up at my door and insisted on walking thru my apartment to make sure no one was being held against their will. Wonder if this has happened to others. Years later I found myself to be much more productive working from home and actually liked it (mostly) despite living alone. Yes – I have loner tendencies so it was easier for me to tolerate. I loved waking up early and getting right to work. I was paid by the hour so it was perfect for someone trying to build a stash. I was never paid 1.5x for OT – that would have been sweet.

    I worked on an extended project that required driving 6.5 hours Sundays and Fridays (I hate flying) and living onsite during the week. Most all of my communications with various teams was done thru phone and IM. 95% of folks I worked with daily were in far flung cities. Even folks in the same office used IM – even if they were in the next cubicle. Weird to have that kind of culture where people got irritated if you stopped by their desk to talk instead of using IM. So it was sort of ludicrous to have the company pay my expenses when I could work just as easily from home. Luckily we convinced management of that fact after the first year. On the plus side of IM – we would attach cool little emoticons and I had an awesome collection before I left that job. It was always pretty awesome when someone sent you a new one. (Sadly, this was one of the few positives on my own personal job from hell.)

    • livingafi says:

      Thanks for the stories — the accidental 911 call sounds like it spiced your day up pretty good.. Here’s hoping you’ve moved on from your own job-hell experience by now!

  6. A W S says:

    Interesting observation in regard to working at home. Especially today. Some of us are working like that from March 2020. Never been better whilst climbing the corporate rotten ladder. No office politics and empty smiles. Tons of money saved commute but more important to this is the most valuable commodity- time that is saved. Goodbye commute. Good luck ya all.

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