I have several co-workers, some who work in an semi-open plan office (essentially a bench against a wall with a few tiny airless offices that no one uses), and three remote home workers, including myself.
Without a doubt, the amount of usefulhigh quality work that the remote workers pull off is amazing. The boss noticed, and got two of the guys to do a time and motion study using a 5 minute interval to record what they were working on. The office guys struggle to do 90 minutes a day in billable work, and their work suffers for it. I can easily put in an eight hour day, and produce higher quality work than my on-site co-workers can in a week. Sometimes I trade this for a
For collaboration, we use Skype.
There are downsides. I get cabin fever regularly. I am somewhat distant to many of my friends, and not seeing them is a hassle. My boss doesn't see my efforts, and thus I tend to get more work than many of co-workers, primarily because I can deliver. Family time often disturb me, even though I've made it perfectly clear that if I was working in an office, I couldn't run down the shops or look after baby girl for an hour or so. This leads to working after hours to catch up occasionally. I'm still to work out this issue despite coming up on two years of working from home.
If you decide to abandon the cubicle rat race, here's my tips:
* Your home office has to be away from distractions. You're not going to win if you're in front of folks watching Dr Phil. I have a separate office with about 200 square feet of space.
* Your own music all the time at whatever volume you want is the birth right of the home worker. Get a good amp and speakers and crank it up baby!
* Communicate at least a few times every day with your boss. No surprises is the best policy. They buy in to your work and deliverable rather than demanding results and wondering where they are.
* Set up your home office properly. Sitting at a kitchen table or coffee shop sounds nice until you've been hunched over your laptop for three hours on a crappy chair.
* Get a big ass monitor even if you have a 17" laptop screen. Your eyes will thank you. Ditto high quality external keyboard and mouse.
* I bought a fax / printer. Waste of money. Do not want.
* Reliable communications is all. Have a backup plan such as a 3G dongle in case your primary net access goes down.
I think I'm broken of the cubicle habit now. It's going to be tricky to stay home for the next 25 years of my working life, but I want to do so. Cubicle life - good riddance.