Provided that you have all setup available to work from home, does it really work to work from home for programmers? What are your experiences?

And Is it beneficial for industries?

+23  A: 

It's actually quite good, the best environment ever, I'm doing it right now. But it's not for everyone. If you lack self-discipline, you can easily end up procrastinating whole day. Oooops, I'm going back to do some work because this is exactly what I'm talking about...

lubos hasko
Procrastinating is possible in the office as well.
It's noticeably harder to procrastinate by going on say StackOverflow when your boss is breathing down your neck
Alex Brault
Hey Alex, shouldn't you be working right now!? Signed, Your Boss

I'm not sure about the benefits and the falls of it... but it definitely is top when you need to be home to wait for some delivery...

I usually let my deliveries come to my workplace. I've done it lots of times because parcel delivery companies only delivers during office hours.
+10  A: 

I've worked from home at least one day a week for about five years, and there's another guy in my group who telecommutes from a thousand kilometres away. As long as you have enough self-control to not sit in front of the TV all day and actually work, it's fine. It does make collaboration a little tougher; IM and email are no substitute for face-to-face meetings.

It's beneficial from the company's perspective because it makes employees happy. In the case of my colleague, his wife got a job offer on the east coast (we're in southern Ontario), and having him telecommute allowed us to keep an excellent programmer that would have otherwise left. In my case, I have an hour commute each way and if my company didn't allow me to work from home now and again, I might have grown weary of the commute and left to find another job closer to home.

Graeme Perrow
+26  A: 

It can be excellent if you have the self-discipline that lubos hasko mentions.

One important thing is to have a work area that is completely separate from your living area. That way you can avoid family distractions, and it makes it much easier to stop and have a non-work life when you need one.

this could be a comment instead of a separate answer
I think it's a perfect answer: a qualified yes.
Tony k
+1  A: 

Personally for me, it's great! It is not for everyone since it is easy to get distracted with all 'home stuff' and it can be hard to separate and 'be at home'. Good luck, if you try it.

OMG, @Ken answer is nearly the same....it's not me voting up me....really! :)
+39  A: 

It is all about "Crossing the river" for me.
At my first job I had to cross a bridge on my way to the office. It turned into a ritual: for 5 minutes I would stare at the river, and I would clear my head so problems from home stay and wait for me on the bridge till I got back from work. The same was with the problems from work on my way home.
When I started working from home I started loosing it, mixing work with other problems, and I got into trouble until I remembered my ritual and started to take a 5 min walk in the morning and afternoon to mark starting and ending the work day.
You need to give your mind a pleasant ritual to delimit work hours from free hours.

Ovidiu Pacurar
Great metaphor. I similarly find my commute gives me a nice "buffer zone" - which is more than just "leaving problems the other side". When I try to do stuff (home related or work related) on my commute I end up being less productive the rest of the time. Now my commute is iPod time. Much better.
Phil Nash
Bridge eh? The bay area perhaps?
+7  A: 

When I did it for about 1.5 years working at home for 4 days with 1 in the office i started to get long term solitude issues... I started to actual withdraw from conversations and the like - missed the being in the office and meeting people. Discussing things.

I did have a separate room for the office (and it does help), also the discipline to work and to turn off the computer at 5pm to stop working - which is the big issue - the discipline to stop working on time too, just because its there doesnt mean that you have to do it. Just "leave" the office as you would do normally.

+7  A: 

It has it's pros and cons. I allow members of my team to do both.

I have one developer that has a long commute to and from and work, one day a week, I allow him to work from home. It gives him a break from traffic and to get back some of that time lost.

I do agree that you have to be self-disciplined to do it ... and even though you are at home, you still need to be a part of the team, that means communication. As longs as the productivity is there I am cool with it.

It also works out well when trying to schedule personal appointments as well as if a developer is starting to come down with some sickness. If you're hacking and coughing you can still work ... just not from the office! =)

On the flip side, I don't like my team members to always work from home. It's hard to keep a team gelled if there is no face-to-face interaction.

Whether your misanthropic or not ... there is some weird social pull between developers ... those that get along professionally ,,, and in an office environment, it facilitates information exchange. This is critical to a solid team, at least in my opinion. It's like out of sight out of mind, if a developer is always working from home, it's hard to form a solid professional relationship with them, and I may forget about them, which is not a good thing.

Just my thoughts.

1 day a week, give the lad 3 days @ home the poor fella:)
I would and will, but the lad is still a young developer ... still needs some hands on.

Working from home is a great and their are many benefits for both employees and employers alike. Employees can be more productive, reduce commute time, work hours that better fit their personal lives, and can be happier. Employers can reduce office space costs, better retain employees, and gain more productive employees. Those are just a few positives, but there are challenges on both sides as well.

As others have rightly mentioned to work from home you need to have the discipline and tools to remain productive. In addition you have the additional communication challenge.

Even today, a lot of managers (and even co-workers) have difficulty evaluating productivity and contributions of remote workers and tend to equate not here to not working. This can lead to a poor perception of you, even if it is completely unfounded. You must put in an extra effort to stay involved with your co-workers and managers. This not only includes making sure everyone knows your availability and what you are working on, but also making sure you get the information that is sometimes known around the office but not relayed to remote workers.

Communication becomes even more important when working on a team. A good jelled team can be much more productive and thrives off the interaction and ideas of the team. Each team works differently and if you are a remote member of a team work out the best way for you to participate and make sure you are included, even in impromptu meetings and gatherings. This way your ideas are heard and you a chance to learn from your co-workers.

+1  A: 

1) It can work well if your work is largely isolated and independent from others in your team. If your work requires lot of collaboration and interaction with other members of your team, it may not be as effective.

2) If you are leading a team of programmers all located in one place, then really working from home is a bad idea. Coordination is your main requirement and it cannot happen effectively with you being physically separated from them.

3) You need to have an isolated and proper place to work at home away from distractions.

4) You need to have proper infrastructure to work from home - internet, phone line, equipment.

5) You need to be disciplined to work the complete hours.

6) It sometimes becomes difficult to identify when to finish the work. You may tend to start working at any free slots.

7) You need to have a commitment and understanding from your family or friends who are living with you. They need to appreciate that you need privacy, independence and distraction-free environment. It is sometimes too easy to say "Honey, can you look at the baby for a few minutes while I take this call".

I disagree with point 2. Project server, im, email, ip-phone, desk-share. I've worked from home for 7 years at a company thats had remote workers for 15 years. 80 percent of the company is remote. I've run projects and been part of many. Seems to work quite well

For me it would depend on the modularity of the project I worked on. If each member in my team works on very specific modules that are not too dependent on each other, or that has a stable connecting interface, it would be ok to work from home.


I think it does a few things (when it works well):

Frees up the time that one would spend commuting to the office.

(Potentially) cuts down on the idle office chit-chat that can eat into the work day.

Reduces expenses related to commuting (and provides associated 'green' benefits of one less car on the road, if the person drove).

Provides some flexibility to the workday.

Allows the disciplined worker to focus without as many distractions. (Though it can provide others.)

It can be less expensive for the company - office space isn't always available or cheap.

The down-side I think is that co-location is good for collaboration and information exchange. You can do it with IM, video chat, etc. but it isn't the same thing as 'being there'.

For me, I'd work from home every day if I could. I find that little breaks in the workday are good for the brain to refuel. I could accomplish many small home tasks between coding sessions. I spend a couple hours a day on the road that is mostly wasted time in my opinion, other than listening to podcasts and lectures and audio books.


I work from home exclusively. While it was a somewhat tough adjustment at first, I prefer it. I started working from home during a beta program my company was trying out. At first it was tough to stay connected with what was going in the office. Now my company has embraced the program and setup a better infrastructure for a work at home program.

I can be just as productive at home as I can at work. However, I am also a very disciplined person when it comes to working. You need a quick way of communicating with other devs or qa like a instant messenger and a sip phone. Some live meeting software and desktop sharing software is a must also.

+2  A: 

It didn't work as well as I'd hoped, and now that I'm back in a job with an office, face-to-face interactions, and the like, I'm much happier.

In a telecommute, it's too easy to get isolated and to be cut-off from communication. Problems fester until it's time to craft an email, or make a phone call. I struggled with that even in a job which I should have been able to do in my sleep, and they eventually led to my career change.

My situation is not everybody's, but I would have to say that there are situations (and people) that don't fit for telecommuting. YMMV.

Good luck!

John Dunagan

I am doing this as a part-time developer for a project which is for a virtual team and all the team members are geographically separated, it really depends on the self discipline, my experience is great and I am being paid to work 6 hours a week but I am working more than 6 hours because I don't want my work just do be done, but to be done how it must be done and the project manager is very happy and comfort how the work is going.

+1  A: 

I have been working from home for the past six months. I am more productive and happier. I have a small room that I have transformed into an office-cum-bedroom. I invested in an air-conditioner, a comfortable computer chair, and good Internet. The desk is next to being perfect, and the laptop works well.

As almost everyone has highlighted, self-discipline is VERY important. Thankfully, I have good control over myself. Family interruptions are mainly minimal, as I am glad to have a small family that understands that I am working and should not be disturbed---no, I am not married, far from it, but I live with parents and a sibling.

One user pointed out, and rightly so, that it as important to know when to STOP working as it is to know when to work, and that because you work from home and can, doesn't mean that you should work all day long. For me, controlling that is a little problematic, as sometimes, I tend to spend free time on work stuff mostly because I end up spending that time on the computer.

On the downside, I have become a lot lazier, and more isolated from the outside world. I do go out, but I should like to reinforce that I much prefer to stay at home. This may not be good in the long run---but I am working on it.

But all in all, if you ignore lack of human interaction (such as for meetings and discussions), compared to my previous job where I used to work in office commuting to which took two to three hours, I love working from home.

+6  A: 

I think it can be a good idea. I have been working from home for 2.45 years now. Here are some pros and cons:


  • Getting to see more of my family
  • Less distractions
  • Occasionally working from the recliner in front the fireplace
  • Working for a Silicon Valley company without having to move far from relatives


  • Lack of interaction with coworkers
  • Sitting too long because there are less distractions
  • The line between work and not-work can easily blur

Like others have mentioned, for it to be successful you need to be self-disciplined. That goes both ways - try and keep a dividing line between work and not-work. I turn my PC off at the end of the work day to make it less likely that I will gravitate back in to see what the latest buzz in the company IRC channel is or to look at the latest RCS checkins.

I'd also suggest getting involved with some other local organizations for the socialization benefits. Get more involved in your local government, programming user group, church, etc. It will help you as well as them.

Give it a shot.

+3  A: 

One thing I haven't seen mentioned is that it depends on the day. If I need to work head-down on something then I'm more productive at home because there are no interruptions. On the other hand, if it's one of those days where I don't have anything pressing to do, I find that in the office I find ways to keep busy (helping co-workers, discussing issues, getting dragged into other people's problems), so at the end of the day I feel like I accomplished something. But if I stay home on one of those days I tend to just putter.


I've been working at home for 7ish years.
I try to do 9 to 5 but there are days when I work more and days when I work less.
From a company point of view we are much cheaper. Less space and most home workers maintain their own network.

I do have the coffee chat, though it's through IM.
It can be a great cost saver for the worker. I put in about 50bucks in gas in my car, a month.

People say they miss seeing people. I take martial arts twice a week. Joining a club helps the missing...

+2  A: 

It should be like 3 days work from home.. 2 days office.. and 2 days weekend..


The day I started working for my present employer was the day the company acquired an office for the first time. They went from being composed entirely of tele-commuters to about 50% on site staff. Over the last 8 years we have grown substantially (about double the staff) and maintained a fair percentage of the total as permanent remote employees. Nearly all of our employees work at least a portion of their time remote. Our VPN and other communications infrastructure has grown to accommodate these needs.

As a developer I've been working from home at least two days per week for most of these 8 years. I have the flexibility to work more if I need to (if I'm slightly sick, have car troubles, the weather is bad ...). It helps with the quality of life as the commute to and from the office consumes at least three hours of my day.

Whether or not it is a good idea or not depends greatly on the company's view of remote staff, the company's willingness to fund the necessary infrastructure, and the employee's discipline. If all those things are favorable then it will be a good idea and both the company and employee will benefit from the relationship.

Mike Chess

I have been working from home for 18 months for a company in another state. I took this job after commuting 100 miles per day for nearly 5 years (although I did have a 4-day on/3-day off workweek). We are spread out from the west coast to Europe. The time zones can be challenging as I am the farthest west most of the time, and I tend to be a night owl (i.e., there is pressure on me to start by 8 am but I would prefer to start at 9 or 9:30 am).

We use Skype, WebEx and the dreaded PowerPoint all the time to discuss issues.

At times, I have to battle procrastination. This is most common if I have a challenging project, and that is when I miss being able to brainstorm on a whiteboard with a colleague. However, when I have a project where the goals and requirements are clear, I can and do crank out a lot of work in a normal day.

I do get up from the computer a few times a day to clear my head. I pet my cats for 5 minutes or something. I also make a point of going out to lunch most days, just to be around other people.

I think I made a good choice, but I can certainly see why people wouldn't be happy working at home full time. My ideal situation might be 3 days at home, 2 days in the office.

Michael Mathews

It is a brilliant idea, and one that companies should especially take note of now that we have this 'crisis' thing. What better way to cut costs without losing people?

Dmitri Nesteruk

I think working from home is a great idea! We are in a field in which we can easily work from home so why not take advantage of it. I think when we work from home we are more happy and we also get more done! According to one research people who are working from home tends to work more hours then people working at office.


If it's possible, I think a mix of working from home and working from the office is best. I personally am more focused and less distracted at home (I don't even have my own cube at work), so when I really need to crank something out that doesn't require a lot of human interaction, working from home is great. Unfortunately, you do need human interaction every once in a while, and if you work from home 100% of the time things like being left out of design meetings or missing out on a conversation start to wear on you. If you're lucky enough to sort of choose when you work from home, here's a good way to think of it:

When to work at home

  • You just have to get something done and your work environment is too distracting.
  • Someone needs to be home (sick kid, doctor's appointment, package, etc.)
  • You're sick but can still work
  • Need a break from the commute.

Other than that it's probably best to work at your office, especially if there's an important meeting planned.

This is just something I personally go by. Hopefully it helps someone else.

Ryan Thames

To get a manager's perspective, take a look at RandsInRepose's excellent blog post on assessing whether an a work-from-home arrangement would for specific employees.

Working from home is not for everyone. He identifies four work-at-home criteria to assess whether working from home is right for the individual and for the company:

  1. Do they have the personality?
  2. Do they have the right job?
  3. Does the culture support it?
  4. Do you have a remote friction detection and resolution policy?

Check out the post for a more detailed explanation of each of the points. It's the best summary of the topic I've seen so far.

Fuzzy Purple Monkey