October 28, 2007 spout

Working Remotely for Microsoft: Misc Tips & Tricks

  • I used to drive up because it gave me the freedom of traveling whenever I wanted and I always had a car on the far end. Besides the speeding tickets, the other big problem was the amount of human energy it takes to drive back and forth so often.
  • I’ve taken the train, which I love because of the comfy surroundings and the electron dispensers, but if I want to be at a 9:45am meeting on Monday morning, I have to leave on the 2pm train on Sunday, which really cuts into family time.
  • Now I fly. The drive to the airport is only 30 minutes and I’ve never gotten a ticket along the way. When I get there, I use the express line to Seattle flights and get myself a Chai tea on the far side of security, itself made easy by long practice and my slip-off Crocs. The flight is short and I’ve long ago dropped off luggage that I leave in building 42, so I only have to bring clean undies in my laptop carry-on. When I land, instead of renting a car, I take a cab and get the benefit of the HOV lane when means I can take the 8am flight instead of the 7:30am flight, giving me 30 more minutes in bed. When I arrive, I have a junker freebie car I leave in the parking lot for tooling around town.
  • I split my overnights between my long-time friend and mentor Don Box and a local hotel. I stay at the hotel because I don’t want to overstay my welcome and I stay at Don’s because he and his family have made me feel so at home that I can’t not stay there. As much as Don would prefer I be in WA, he has really gone a long way to enable my lifestyle and I love him for it.
  • Sometimes when I’m on a roll, I’ll keep going long into the night, just like the old days at DM. And sometimes when I’m not feeling it, I’ll take the afternoon off and see a movie with my sweetie. It’s all about the balance.
  • I’ve always had an office for when I’m in Redmond, but I’ve always made sure I was the first guy on the double-up list when things get tight. Now only does this give me more face time when I’m in town, but I look like a hero and the guy who rooms with me only has to put up with me 3 days out of 10. I also let the other guy decide how to lay out the office, since my real office is set up just how I like it at my house. I’ve worked on couches, in the hall, in conference rooms, in the care and at the local Starbucks on 156th. Give me a laptop and wi-fi and I’m good to go.
  • Keep a machine setup inside the firewall. Every once in a while, VPN won’t let you do anything except terminal serve into a machine, at which point you can do anything just like you were there.
  • Make Microsoft pay at least half of your phone and internet bills.
  • Just because you’re working from home, you should expect adequate equipment to be supplied by your employer. Over a 4.5 year period, Microsoft has supplied me with two laptops, a 20″ LCD monitor and a printer-fax-scanner-copier, all in my home office.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the final entry in this series with my thoughts about the future of telecommuting.