…have been hell. If it wasn’t for the three months I spent in Palo Alto at the beginning of the year (and hopefully the final three months when I’m back there), this year could be considered a complete write-off. The number one reason for having not enjoyed this time, can largely be put down to having to work remotely, and with a company located 8 hours behind myself.
In fact I think GMT -8 should be put on notice.
Indeed, this is nothing new. During my time in America earlier this year, if I wanted to call anybody back home, it needed to be either early in the morning, or whilst I was at work. Throughout these last six months, it has often seen me working during the evenings (and some early mornings), so that I can be around when everyone else is.
Two Tin Cans and a Piece of String
Communication is of course restricted to e-mail, instant-messaging and phone calls. E-mails and instant messaging are massive time-killers, and are often fraught with misinterpretations and misunderstandings. Whilst being able to talk to somebody on a phone is often far more helpful, it’s still a distant second compared to talking face-to-face.
In situations where you find yourself calling into a meeting, unless you have a confident (and loud) personality (which I don’t), you might as well be dead. Add to this the technical gremlins that seemed to effect nearly every phone call I had (“we didn’t quite hear you Paul, but what I think he said was…”). Funnily enough, the squeaking chair in the meeting room, is always 100% audible.
There are other problems that arise when you find yourself working remotely – you feel remote. Given e-mails and IM conversations are such time-killers, I found myself not engaging with members of the team unless I have to, such activity feeling like a massive distraction.
Sometimes it almost feels like if your not in the office, you don’t exist. Now I must stress that my employer has gone out of their way to include me in discussions, meetings and keeping me informed. But that is still no substitute for physically being in the office, and over hearing (and being part of) conversations. These are often informal, and as such, not considered important – but on so many levels they are.
I do take responsibility for quite a few aspects of this hellishness however.
Periods of laziness (all to easy when working from home), poor organisation, eventual unwillingness to get involved in the day to day life of the company… I know I could have made this experience much better for myself and others, but after such a long time, I find myself just getting fed up with the whole God damn experience.
Currently that is the biggest reason for returning to the States (and at this point in time, I need reasons). Currently I tend associate work with negative thoughts, which in turn makes me a pretty horrible person to work alongside at times. It’s also clouding some decisions.
On the upside of all this, I have learnt a lot about myself during this time. mainly in terms of my weaknesses. I have discovered that city living is just not my style (unsurprising really given I have lived in or near greenbelt for most of my life). Given my impending departure, I’ve also come to realised the value of my family and friends.
More on this in the next week or so I imagine.