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Working from home
4

Working from home

Working from home

(OP)
Considering how topical it is with the current global landscape, what's everyone's opinions on working from home in our industry?
Does anyone's employer successfully offer a work from home option?
How does it work?

I have heard in the past that it is very difficult for our profession to work from home... However, with all that has happened in the last few weeks, many big engineering firms have begun setting up staff to work from home

RE: Working from home

I've been working from home for 5 years now. I go into the office to get a new laptop, or meet a new manager, or drive some cars. That's only once a year or so. It's been an option for many years.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Working from home

I'm a solo practicioner (structural and geotechnical) working from home for 10 years now. I've never been as productive when I worked in a design office. And I have never done an all-nighter again, which was fairly common at the time. Meetings are all at the clients' offices.

As far as keeping focused, I never really understood what the problem is with some people. When you have to feed the family, you just work and that's it.

RE: Working from home

We've always had a work from home policy if the project one is assigned to can accommodate it. In the past, I've done it from time to time just to avoid my long commute to NYC. I just got assigned to a new project so I have to figure out how to make it work. As of this morning, there's limited bus service into the city but I need to go to the office to pick up my laptop.

RE: Working from home

I've been WFH for 5 years now. I'm definitely more productive most of the time. Better for family.

WFH is augmented by monthly visits to clients and home office. Tech doesn't fully replace personal connection to people and projects.

RE: Working from home

I could easily work from home if needed since I already do almost all of my work on the computer anyways; several of my coworkers already work from home a few days a week. The only things that might get tricky for me if I have to work from home is being forced to use a less ergonomic "desk" setup at home and not having a printer that can do 11x17 prints at home (I hate checking drawings on the computer screen).

RE: Working from home

At the consulting firm where I used to work, it was a discouraged option. If you could be in the office, you were expected to be there. But the management was aware that the world has been changing for some time and made sure that everyone was equipped to telecommute if needed. "Need" could be traveling for business, staying home with a sick kid, or a global pandemic. But if one of those things weren't happening, you'd better be at your desk.

Now I work at an industrial site. 98% of the employees here are not capable of working remotely, so the blanket rule is not working remotely. There are a few members of middle management willing to stand up for the handful of professional employees and let it go for the same reasons as my last firm (we all have laptops and a VPN for business travel). But again, you'd better be on site if you can get yourself here safely.

RE: Working from home

If I had not retired four years ago, I would probably be working from home 100% during this crisis. About 80% of what I did could be done online. Even when I was working, I worked from home at least one day a week. That started-out when my wife's mother moved in with us after she had a stroke and my wife was forced into early retirement. I arraigned it with my boss to let me work from home on Fridays so that my wife could have a break. At that time my MIL's condition was such that all she really needed was someone in the house to make sure she didn't fall or something. Anyway, we eventually had to put her in a nursing home (she passed five years ago). Even after my wife didn't need coverage anymore, I continued to work from home on Fridays. It was great as that was always the worst commute, Friday afternoon, driving home.

We're lucky as we have a really good internet service (Cox Communications). I ran a speed test a few days ago and with my MacBook Pro hardwired to the cable modem, the download speed was 223 Mbps and upload was 11 Mbps. Even just hooked-up via WiFi, the download speed was 127 Mbps (upload speed was unchanged).

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Working from home

I'm in chemical manufacturing.

I have some projects I can work on from home. Most of those are projects I am behind on because I get so sidetracked by the day-to-day plant stuff everyday. This might be my chance to make some progress on those. If the work-from-home option becomes long term, I foresee running out of stuff I can do from home pretty quickly.

Andrew H.
www.MotoTribology.com

RE: Working from home

Quote (not having a printer that can do 11x17 prints at home (I hate checking drawings on the computer screen). )


I don't have an 11x17 printer either and I too prefer hard copies. A drawback for me is that our office network is usually slow and working remotely amplifies the problem. Most likely I'll be working home for the next few weeks, my better half has some respiratory problems, so I'll lug 20 pounds of drawings home tonight. On the positive side, there aren't any fixed working hours. If there's some nice weather I can powerwash the house and do some exterior painting during the day and do my regular work early morning and in the evening. As long as it adds up to 40 hours.

RE: Working from home

For what it's worth, there are a few home printers out there that have gone to a wider format that allows for up to 13x19 prints, and the prices aren't too bad - especially if you're already in the market for a printer.

Here's one on sale: Link

RE: Working from home

Yes, I have one of those so-called 'B Size' printers, an Epson Stylus Photo R2000. I've only used it a couple of times for 11 X 17 prints. It's mostly used to print photos larger than 4 X 6 (I use a Canon Selphy CP900 die-sublimation printer for 4 X 6 photos) and Avery labels. The feature I use a lot on my Epson printer is the ability to directly print CD/DVD's. Our workhorse printer is an Epson WP-4540 (all in one, Print/Copy/FAX).

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Working from home

Well, since I was laid off 8 years ago, I have always worked from home.

First thing I did was buy an 11x17 printer/scanner.... next thing I did was buy two monitors (I am running a 15" laptop with 2-29" monitors.... I wanted 3, but my laptop can't handle that..... stupid intel integrated graphics card). It has work well over the past 8 years. Only drawbacks to working from home is not being able to readily bounce ideas off someone, or having all technical references readily available.... well that is, if nobody is home with you. If others are in the house the same time you are that can be a huge distraction, one the company may not want you dealing with.

My old boss worked from home 2-3 days/ week for the 12 years I studied off of him. He would buy 3 copies of everything (1 for me, 1 for his office and 1 for his home office). He didn't care because he wasn't paying for it. He loved getting his hair cut at 10:30 am on some random weekday (would drive me nuts).

Companies better get used to the idea real fast. The problems we all face are not going away anytime soon.

RE: Working from home

I've been working 1 day a week from home for the last 2 1/2 years while working for national A/E firms in the building design sectors. There's always been some pushback from others in the office, likely the old-school mentality/fear that people won't work if their supervisor can't walk by and see what they're doing. My direct managers have always been more than happy with my performance, and most of my project teams can't tell the difference (i.e.-they don't realize I'm working remotely once a week unless I tell them). Zoom, Microsoft Teams, VPN access, etc. make it irrelevant in my opinion where I'm physically working. It takes more energy to communicate proactively with remote teams, and I've found there is a learning curve when you're trying to manage project teams. Keeping track of multiple projects and staying up to date on what your team is accomplishing takes more time than if you're in the same office. It's definitely possible to do it successfully. I just finished Construction Documents on a $14 million renovation project working remotely with the architectural and structural teams (within the same company, but different offices).

With the current pandemic, most of our 1000+ person company is going to be working remotely sooner rather than later. I'm 100% remote until everything calms down.

RE: Working from home

We just an email from a regional manager stating you can work from home if your manager says it's OK. Meanwhile, this is the same company that requires us to take on-line training for how to get a good night's sleep. banghead

RE: Working from home

I just received an email from my manager saying to continue coming in to the office. The next email from them also stated that a meeting we have scheduled will be held on Skype rather than in person, even though we are all in the office during it, to "encourage social distancing". banghead

RE: Working from home

I have done a lot of work from home in the past but never for more than a few days at a time. My position and projects at the last two employers often dictated that I was the only member of an international team in the local office, and that I flex my schedule to attend meetings both early and late with folks in Europe or Asia so working from home made sense but I rarely did. I'm honestly not a fan of colleagues working from home full-time because there is a noticeable difference in their responsiveness and work quality. At one former employer our PMs actually used a 1.25x multiplier for scheduling their tasks, however management viewed working from home as both a reward and bargaining chip for employee retention and thus offsetting costs. My current position requires a ton of collaboration with folks in the surrounding cubes and shop so again, while I have the tools to work from home now, I prefer to be onsite.

RE: Working from home

I'm going to try it tomorrow. I have a few days worth of computer-work on deck, so we'll see how it goes tomorrow. I'm going to isolate myself as much as I can, but my house isn't that big and there are three kids with no school at the moment to distract me. If it doesn't work out to be productive, I'll be back in the office on Thursday.

Andrew H.
www.MotoTribology.com

RE: Working from home

IMO,, this whole work from home thing has not been well thought out. A few years ago, I was offered a position in a corporate mining head office in Vancouver . Only an hour flight from my home base, but my boss explained, for what we are doing I really need you here. He footted all the hotel , meals and travel expenses so I was OK with that , working MOn-Fri.

So right now, what about all the guys pulling wrenches , drilling holes for explosives , hammering nails etc etc, and all their engineering type supervisors ?? Sure the technology is being developed , especially in large organizations , but in the medium term for mid sized organizations , somebody still has to get his hands dirty 10 hours a day.

And dont get me started on the logistics of operating in remote mining or O+G camps where 200-5000 men are living in very close proximity to each other.

RE: Working from home

Since I can't really justify getting a new printer right now, I did some digging and Adobe Acrobat or Reader can tile large prints across multiple pages, which while not ideal, does let you print on a standard printer and tape it together. I just did a test run at the office and it looks doable, just make sure to check how many pages are going to print before printing. Before I shrunk it to 95% scale, it wanted to print on 6 pages instead of 2.

RE: Working from home

miningman - varies by industry. OP is a structural engineer - I would assume design/consulting - so their industry is set up pretty well for it.

I'm between the two worlds. I'm doing design and project management on an industrial site. So I have enough work to keep me busy at home, but eventually I'll have to come back here to where the other several hundred folks are "getting their hands dirty" as you say. If our site has to shut down, 90% of our employees can't do their work from home and never will be able to.

RE: Working from home

We have two floors and about 150 people on each. There were 14 of us on my floor today; didn't go to the other floor. I got an email from HR today asking if any of the people who report to me can work from home. The message said they're trying to develop an action plan. In my reply, I didn't bother telling them I sent the info yesterday morning and only 1 out of 13 came in today. banghead

I'm "sheltering in place" starting tomorrow.

RE: Working from home

What are you all doing about AutoCad?

RE: Working from home

If they're using laptops, they can simply take it home with them. That's what I did with our CAD software (but it wasn't AutoCAD).

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Working from home

I got the word today to ask for a token to be able to work remotely. I am not sure how well it will work logging into my computer at work using my not the best personal laptop. I suspect that many things will be a good deal slower. Somethings may be the same. I have done work from home using a company laptop on a previous job, I do know there was a hit due to the speed of the connection and I am sure that the connection I have here is not the best.

Peter Stockhausen
Designer / Checker

RE: Working from home

One of the jobs I interviewed with while looking for my current position would have involved working from home. My plan was if I got that job was to travel the country working from wherever I parked the RV.

Peter Stockhausen
Designer / Checker

RE: Working from home

In our case, my laptop was it's own single-user, license server, so we didn't need to use a 'token' or what we called 'borrowing' a license. 'Tokens' (borrowing a license) is used when a client has a central server with a limited number of licenses but which many people might have the software installed, just that they have to share the number of licenses on the company's network. But if you disconnect from the network, while the software might be installed on your laptop, if you can't link to the license server, it won't run. So you have to 'borrow' a license from the server, in this case by transferring temporarily a 'token' from the server to the laptop, which reduces the number of licenses that can be run on the network as long as that 'token' is active. Usually, they're time-limited, often measured in days or weeks, and will automatically expire, thus returning the server back to it's official license count. This is necessary to assure that the customer only gets to use the number of licenses that he actually paid for, which may be significantly less than the number of copies of the software that they've installed on the various company's desktops and laptops. In that kind of environment, there is always the incentive to log-off when not using the software, so as to free-up licenses, which is also why some customers are leery about letting employees 'barrow' licenses since, as far as the server is concerned, they're 'being used' 100% of the time, until the 'token' is returned or it times-out and expires.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Working from home

A VPN can resolve software network license issues, works just like when you're in the office.

I'm finding it's about the same, except that I'm making more progress on things that require big chunks of uninterrupted time. I do have a quiet space at home and no distractions (except eng-tips of course, helps warm up my brain in the morning.)

My commute was less than 10 minutes, and now I'm missing out on the free coffee, so no strong preference either way.

RE: Working from home

[quote I'm missing out on the free coffee][/quote
Our free coffee isn't anything to write home about. At least at home I can enjoy Café Bustelo. lickface

RE: Working from home

Since I've never had a cup of coffee in my life and I've never worked for an employer who provided free soft drinks, I didn't have to give up many perks when working from home winky smile

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Working from home

Production level goes way down.
Stress level also goes down.
Hours go up.
I feel like most of the stuff that I analyze I can do by spreadsheet (that I have developed over the years) or by hand. Very little of our stuff requires model analysis. If it did, I would anticipate needing licensing accommodations.

I love it, to be honest. Way better than leaving the house at 7am, driving for an hour, and then heading home at 4pm to drive another hour back.

RE: Working from home

I feel we should all stop be good little worker bees and realize as a functioning adult you should have the option to work from home at least part of the week if there is no need to have a physical presence in an office or work site. Those who feel they work better in the office, come in. Work better at home, stay home. Work better at the library or starbucks, do that.

RE: Working from home

spieng89- What do you think this? A free country or something? Get back to work!

RE: Working from home

Just kidding - I agree with you wholeheartedly. We're professionals. Once you've demonstrated your ability to do your job, then you should be given the freedom to your job the best way you know how. But I also think that it comes with the "enough rope to hang yourself" idea - if you screw it up, you'd better be ready and willing to take your licks.

RE: Working from home

Working from home since this week. With my employer-issued tablet I remote into my desktop at work that has all my design software. The tablet also has a dockingstation for up to 3 monitors. So right now my home office looks like my desk at work with 3 27" monitors.
I already banned all paper, so that is easy for me.

As for printing on paper to review plans: why not get a large 43" 4K monitor or two? That is better for working anyway and pays back in no time for less time and material used for printing. The only time I print is for field-crews or if an JHA wants hardcopies. But that is ArchD, this isn't something I can have at home anyway.

I sometimes meet field-crews on job sites. for This week I have cancelled that to isolate. Protecting myself, but also others. I assume as this continues I will have to find a solution. Seeing the development in Europe (curfews etc.) I assume this decision will be made for us.

The silver lining is, this finally propels employers into the 21st century.

RE: Working from home

Quote (EnergyProfessional)

The silver lining is, this finally propels employers into the 21st century.

This is something I've been thinking of a bit this week. Will that adaptation define, at least partially, who survives and who goes under? And how will the workplace be altered long term by this, at least for knowledge and professional workers like us? A formal place for meetings, etc. will always be needed, but I wonder how many firms will invest now in expanding telework infrastructure and then downsize in terms of physical real estate later.

RE: Working from home

I’ve worked from home since 1986. This is the norm for me. No complaints from the clients.

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA, HI)

RE: Working from home

I've worked from home this week, for the first time, and it wasnt a bad experience... once the VPN virtual desktop IT had prepared for me started to work properly.

It seems kinda strange at first, but I could get used to it. Most of my work its done through a computer anyway, but the office social aspect its missed (I have a good work environment I guess).

Home working does seems to be better for coding.

But the greatest con for me, its that I do not have a proper home set-up (there was no time to prepare or foresee anything), I miss my office chair a lot!!

RE: Working from home

That's one thing I invested in when I started to work at home on a regular basis, a office chair which was actually better than the one I had at work. It was worth every dollar I spent on it. The leather (naugahyde) is a bit worn now but it's still comfortable.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Working from home

The one catch I see to working at home is that it cuts off casual chatting about the work. We've got a thread at Engr'g Failures/Gas Main in Mass. ( https://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=466119 19 Mar '20) about the importance of professional experience. In my office we had many people doing similar work and our facilities dated back many decades. I feel a large portion of my experience there came to me and was subsequently passed on to others by:

1. Being able to walk into my boss's office, that of another designer, or that of staffers in other departments. This was all with no effort to initiate the visit and without the limitations of having to write my question down or of not being able to sketch or put drawings in front of us (I did half my talking with a pencil).

My work was design while a college classmate on the other side of the building supervised a construction force. In 5 minutes I could not only get feasibility and cost guess for an idea, I would end up with a mini lesson in construction practicalities that I never knew to ask about. Early on I learned that a fellow in our equipment contracts group had worked in a transformer factory, chatting with our supplier's designers was restricted by having to go through a sales rep to a factory on a another continent that spoke another language. No "20 questions" back and forth learning exchange there.

2. Dropping by someone's desk for a social chat and then noticing the project on their desk usually helped one or both of us.

3. Someone overhearing me and saying "oh I ran in to that last year" was another aid.

I feel more than half my experience was obtained through these casual interactions rather than formal ones.

It's not an overpowering argument but it's another case of the computer age making things easier but losing 10% of the quality along the way.

Bill

RE: Working from home

Yes, that can be an issue. Of course, when I was working at home only one day a week, that wasn't all that much of the concern, however, I once was off for eight weeks when I tore up my right shoulder (I had to have a tendon rebuilt using a section from a cadaver) and since I couldn't drive, I was put on short-term disability. Granted, when on disability you're not supposed to be working at all, however, since, as I've stated before, 80% of what I did was on a computer and we have really good internet service, I was able to pretty much keep-up with all the stuff I was involved with. Of course, I had to keep those details from the insurance company nurse who contacted me each week to check on my progress winky smile

And before anyone asks, since I'm right-handed, how did I use my computer with my right-arm in a sling for eight weeks? Well, that's when I discovered the 'Trackball':



All I had to do was place my hand on the device and I could control the cursor movement and mouse buttons without having to move my arm at all.

The only real problem I had then was learning how to sleep sitting-up in a chair for six of those eight weeks winky smile

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Working from home

I work quite differently when at home. In the office I'll bang out 10 hours straight with only a few small breaks for some chit-chat with colleagues, at home I can only manage several hours straight before getting distracted. So my 8 hour day turns into being spread over 12+ hours or so. But it does allow for some flexibility, do a few hours before breakfast, go for a run in the middle of the day, spend a few hours browsing EngTips, playing some playstation 'while at work', etc

I'm guessing I'm going to have to get used to it, government is asking everyone who can work from home to do so as of yesterday. In another week everyone is expecting further lock-down measures to be in place in these parts.

RE: Working from home

Being on the Left-Coast, when you get up in the morning, much of the world, at least Europe and the East Coast, have already been at work for some time. I normally got up around 6:00am and even before taking my shower, I would login and check my mail and answer anything that needed quick attention. Then I would shower, eat breakfast, and if I wasn't working at home, I would then head into the office, albeit maybe an hour or so later then most people, which helped with the traffic during my commute. This would drive my wife nuts, as she had always worked where you had set hours and people that you needed to see on a set schedule (she was the front-office manager in a large dental practice until she retired about eight years before me). And if it was a day that I was going to be working from home, often, while breakfast might not wait, the shower might be delayed a bit and I'd work half the day in my PJ's (note that our corporate laptops had their built in cameras disabled as it was company policy to limit teleconferencing to designated set-ups where they had better control over security and access) before getting dressed.

It's strange, now that I'm retired, while I'm still getting up around 6:00am or so, I now take my shower immediately, grab breakfast and then finally get around to logging in and checking my mail. Of course, now it's not stuff from customers/coworkers that I'm reading, but old friends and tons of adverts and political crap (make one donation to a campaign and before the next election cycle, you're on a dozen or more mailing lists).

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Working from home

Quote:

I feel more than half my experience was obtained through these casual interactions rather than formal ones....It's not an overpowering argument but it's another case of the computer age making things easier but losing 10% of the quality along the way.

I disagree that its not an overpowering argument, I believe its a very strong one. Every one of my (medium-large corp) employers has saw real value in putting junior engineers to work hands-on in the shop/plant through rotational development programs for exactly that reason - bc humans learn a lot by casual observation and conversation. IME the lack of interaction with production personnel is the missing link that makes many contract design firms' work mediocre, particularly smaller ones. The other example supporting the value of casual interactions is the power of the personal network, hence the old saying about life not being what but whom you know.

RE: Working from home

One observation on the Logitech trackball. I am on the second one and would have been on a third. The micro-switches for the main buttons are garbage. Eventually they will multi-click, like 10 times per one push. The symptom will be that the software won't act right. It's because tiny fragments build up/break off. Some have ordered replacements from DigiKey and the part number is on the web, but I was curious as to the exact failure mode. I ended up disassembling the microswitches (watch out for the small parts) and then closing the contact on a piece of notebook paper and sliding the paper from between the still-closed contacts to clean them. Viola - fixed like new after becoming unusable. The alternative requires soldering and may be more reliable, but it's been two years of daily use and no repeated failure.

RE: Working from home

Argotier: If you're going to be working from home full time until this all passes and you can get back to the office quickly, I highly recommend just bringing your office chair home if you think that won't get you accused of stealing office furniture. If I'm going to be parked in a chair nearly 8 hours a day, it better be comfortable.

RE: Working from home

I've been working from home a day a week for a decade or so.

It was once a chore- reconciling documents with the one on the server, downloading and uploading stuff the next day and making sure you didn't nuke other people's work. Having to give my home phone number to people I didn't want to have it. But with VPN and VoIP phones, all those problems have gone away.

Am I more productive, or less? There are some tasks which became impossible for me in cube-land, but an office with a door and a DND sign would have solved that. That office with a door is not on offer though.

Relationship building and maintenance suffers, for sure. Tough to really know what's going on if you aren't "there" physically.

The biggest problem with working from home by far is management. The real problem is setting goals, judging progress and productivity etc., which are admittedly tough things to accomplish. Some managers don't do any active management, and then think people will just start to goof off if they are left to work in a place where the manager can't just drop in and talk to them whenever they feel like it- even if they rarely or almost never do that anyway when people are in the office. They use the "fear" of being dropped in on in person as a proxy for setting goals, checking progress and holding people accountable. Works with some people, and not with others.

Working from home saves me over 2.5 hours of time spent in the car, wear and tear on the car and on my frayed nerves dealing with traffic, toxic and GHG emissions from the car etc. If I could do it full time, I would in a heartbeat.

RE: Working from home

3DDave, yes, once I got the full use of my arm back, I only continued to use the Trackball for a month or so, and then went back to a traditional mouse. I eventually found it harder to use and while it allowed you to work on cluttered desk (no need for a mouse-pad or some open space on your desk), it just didn't cut-it long term.

That being said, the first cursor interface that I ever used with computer graphics display was back in 1977 when we used 'thumb wheels' on a Tektronix DVST:



Now Tektronix did offer a 'Joystick', but I actually like the thumb wheels better:



Ah, the good old days winky smile

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Working from home

Starting to work at home. Or will as soon as T-Mobile gets back to me so I can get my old phone reactivated as my new one chose today to leap into the toilet.

Peter Stockhausen
Designer / Checker

RE: Working from home

Took two hours for T-Mobile to help me out yesterday. Working at home is slow due to network speed on my end as well as not having the best laptop for the job. Had to drive to the office to restart my computer after lunch, some problem with my login after shutting down for lunch. Hope it does not repeat itself, I may not be able to get into the office later.

Peter Stockhausen
Designer / Checker

RE: Working from home

^This will probably cause a problem with automatic windoze updates, since some require or automatically reboot. Might talk with your IT department about that, they can change patch application from automatic to when they want it to happen.

RE: Working from home

for some musical levity

Link

RE: Working from home

Update: One more week of home working for me and I'm still alive and mentally sound.

Luckily I've found a nice comfy chair and thus I've eliminated the worst part of my improvised workplace.

I'm started to notice what Bill posted above:

Quote (Bill West)

The one catch I see to working at home is that it cuts off casual chatting about the work.

I miss all the interaction with other areas and projects, that (now I realize) widened my knowledge... and also fed my curiosity glasses

RE: Working from home

John,
I just retired that exact same logitech trackball, after many many miles of scrolling. About 10 years of daily use.
Note that the trackball did not adapt to growing screen size as well a mouse will. The targeting resolution is "fixed" with a trackball, but the distance that has to be rolled grows as screen sizes increase from 1024 to 1280, 1600, and now 2560. It took several rolls to get the cursor all the way across the screen.

I now have a Logi MX mouse. Very happy.

www.sparweb.ca

RE: Working from home

Been working from home for two years now, as a sole structural engineer in a predominantly manufacturing oriented organization.

No issues with VPN or tying into servers, as all of my required program licenses are docked into my company provided laptop, and all engineering documentation lives on the laptop as well.

I ditched paper a long time ago, so Bluebeam does everything I need, though I rarely need it, as I do all of my own drafting as well.

My work space is a bit less than ideal, simply due to not having a separate room for my desk/office. My wife is home at random hours of the day due to the nature of owning her own business, so this can be distracting at times. However, I can put headphones on and lock down when needed.

I feel more productive than when I was in an office, but I do miss the personal connection with other engineers and people in the office. I use Engtips to get my 'daily fill' of engineering topics to keep my knowledge base and experience wider than it would be without it.

My bosses really enjoy my workstyle. I prioritize always answering the phone when they call and always answering emails (or at least confirming the receipt and updating them with a timeline for a response) as fast as possible, to help them feel like I am staying focused and making work my main priority, even though I may swap over laundry, take out the trash, or cook up a quick meal while stewing on a problem in my mind.

I am beginning to miss the social aspect of an office though, and I am working on a way to work that back into my life. I live in a small town, so commuting is very easy and does not affect my thought process.

RE: Working from home

I was overpressured at work two years after school and now I have to take medication. I am on disability but I have acquired two years of construction experience.
Now, I am allowed to work and make more money. I have set up my own office for thirty-five years and there is no work. I am still an EIT. My sister says I should quit but there is nothing better to do than a structural engineer. My degree is in civil engineering and I am in the structural discipline. So I keep on going, keep on expanding my office, acquiring more reference texts, and reading on finite element analysis. I have acquired a structural program called Midas Gen 2014 and it can design structures. That is all you need. Midas Gen can select the optimal size of the structural members. I have Autocad 2010 and Office 2010 which includes Words and Excel. I use Smath Studio for my calculations. Although there is no work, I am enjoying life.

I am yet to give up on structural engineering. I live alone and I don't have any burdens. I have cable TV and I listen to the radio. If I am tired, I can make a cup of coffee or ly on my bed. It is a comfortable queen size bed.

The dreams of construction never die! My brother is a contractor. He built many houses and he is retiring.

Now I was thinking of pre-selling real estates. I work on conceptual projects and sell my ideas to investors. If the pre-selling is successful, I am going to hire a top-notch architectural firm to design my project on a turn-key contract. The architect does the hiring of engineers, contractors, and subcontractors. All I need is to have coffee with the owner. I am working on ideas from a simple residential house, hotels to large residential apartments.

I think I would work up to my eighties. Cheerios.

disclaimer: all calculations and comments must be checked by senior engineers before they are taken to be acceptable.

RE: Working from home

I had to go into the office to restart my desktop so I could get into it from my laptop. That was as of last week. This week we have been told not to go in without 24 hours notice. But the connection has improved. The last two days I have even not had to call the help desk. Which is a great improvement. The speed may be slightly better as well, but that may be due to perception on my part.

Peter Stockhausen
Designer / Checker

RE: Working from home

I just had a thought, what's going to happen next year when millions of Americans try to claim tax deductions for the cost of their home offices? After all, we were all (well those of use who still need a paying job to stay fed and dry) told to start working from home. Besides, I've been seeing a lot of adverts from businesses that sell office furniture and supplies who are already talking about equipping your home workspace with the latest in compact desks and other items that could be used by someone forced to suddenly work from home. I've also gotten notices from my internet provider reminding me that they offer upgraded levels of performance (we already have the highest throughput service that we can get over normal copper, as we don't yet have the option of going to fiber).

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Working from home

There was always a clear requirement for home office deductibility was that it was required by the employer, not the employee. Since the stay-at-home orders essentially mandated home offices, it's fair game, and I think the IRS will have bigger issues to deal with, like whether someone was REALLY eligible for PPP or the loan forgiveness, etc.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Working from home

Tax deductibility of home offices in Australia is a bit of a minefield. Some people like to claim the office as a premises. This means when they sell their house that capital gains tax is payable on the office space. Not a good idea.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Working from home

The UK allows a magnificent £4 / week for "use of home" as an office rising to £6/week in 2020.

There are other ways but come with a lot of downsides, capital gains being one of them.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Working from home

Quote (Greg)

Tax deductibility of home offices in Australia is a bit of a minefield.

Not terribly different here in The Colonies.
Worst when you want to sell a house that's been used and taxed as a home office, sort of like selling two separate properties.
... according to all I've read over decades of doing occasional work at home, which is why I've never claimed the home office thing.

Mike Halloran
Corinth, NY, USA

RE: Working from home

For all of you who're working from home...

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Working from home

I don't see many Americans suddenly trying to claim their home office as a deduction simply bc so few itemize deductions anymore due to the massive standard deduction. Small business owners may, but those folks mostly likely already were.

Personally I have never been tempted to claim that deduction for zoning and property tax reasons. Years ago when my family's diesel shop led to the entire homestead being unexpectedly rezoned from ag to dual residential/commercial it multiplied the taxes and dropped the real-world sale value. Granted those were different circumstances, but it taught a good lesson about making assumptions about the future and govt so I will always keep my home and business entanglements separate.

RE: Working from home

If you work in a typical desk job arrangement i.e. using a computer, printer, and a few gadgets, working from home is easily possible with the help of a reliable collaboration platform and a resource management tool. However, for people working in service/maintenance teams, manufacturing, or production units, remote working is not much of a choice.

Moreover, the production plants have scaled down the production which requires a limited workforce at the workplace in order to abide by the social distancing requirements. These organizations are scaling down the operation so that they can at least survive the financial setback and pay wages to their resources.

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