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Can engineers effectively design at home?

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any1
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CEO
re: Can engineers effectively design at home?
any1   2/28/2013 2:30:04 PM
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In fairness to Marissa Mayer, she is just doing what she thinks is the right thing for Yahoo today. Tomorrow she may change her mind. I think people are reading way too much into her decision as an indictment of telecommuting in general, which I don't think is correct. I think she is just trying to spur innovation at Yahoo by having people exposed to the sort of random face to face incounters that may spark original thoughts and chance collaborations. These interactions can't happen if these people are working from home. I have seen good ideas emerge from discussions in the company cafeteria from a group of engineers just sitting around "shooting the breeze" over lunch.

anon9303122
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Freelancer
re: Can engineers effectively design at home?
anon9303122   2/28/2013 5:07:10 PM
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Some tasks lend themselves well to remote execution, other tasks require or at least are much more efficient with physical interaction. Some people do well with it, I would not. I am easily distracted (by other more interesting things to do) so being at home would make it hard for me to get work done. Like many things, the answer is, "It depends."

dick_freebird
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re: Can engineers effectively design at home?
dick_freebird   2/28/2013 5:23:11 PM
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I have been working from a (detached) home office for 12 years and would just find another gig if somebody decided I had to occupy a cubicle. Cubes are one of the seven signs, that your management is Satan's spawn.

K1200LT Rider
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re: Can engineers effectively design at home?
K1200LT Rider   2/28/2013 5:27:48 PM
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As soon as you said "... random face to face encounters that may spark original thoughts and chance collaborations" I realized I just read the same intention exactly in this article about Google's new campus design: www.gizmag.com/google-bay-view-hq/26440/

K1200LT Rider
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re: Can engineers effectively design at home?
K1200LT Rider   2/28/2013 5:43:13 PM
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There are phases of my software engineering work that could easily be done at home, but part of our work place paradigm is that us engineers are always on the hook for production-floor problem-solving any time that someone wants to walk over and bug us. It can really kill an otherwise-productive day. You can really get sucked into a problem dealing with hardware/software you've never seen before. Then of course discrepancies in documentation are discovered which have to get figured out and fixed, etc. It can be a real headache. Yet, the deadlines for our "normal" engineering tasks don't change no matter how much we've gotten sidetracked. There's no working at home for me with my current company. I would love to be able to do it at least once or twice a week just to save the 60-mile round trip through really annoying traffic which takes 1-1/2 hours away from me every work day. And then we're forced to take a whole hour for lunch, so we can't eat in our cubicles and only take 15 minutes for lunch so that we can leave earlier. We have to be here during fixed hours for "support".

sandiego70
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re: Can engineers effectively design at home?
sandiego70   2/28/2013 6:11:50 PM
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Marissa Mayer is on track to discover that she needs to work from home more than she thought. Just give it 4 years or so. You can get baby sitters for your kids any time but not for soccer games, school award ceremonies and other such things that require a parent's physical presence. You may not understand if you're just starting a family or being single. There isn't enough paid time off that an average employee gets to deal with family commitments, errands and doctor appointments. I think as soon as you become an executive or a manager you become apathetic to the needs of others. Look at Yahoo's quality, too much email spam, junk news stories and almost no innovation. Folks in China, Japan, Yahoo upper management and the dictatorships do not understand that innovation is a product of creativity and creativity comes from a free mind. Stress and management pressures results in finding ways out.

chanj0
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CEO
re: Can engineers effectively design at home?
chanj0   2/28/2013 6:20:02 PM
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To some people, working from home might actually make them work extremely hard and long hours. The reason is simple. They may feel they need to show higher productivity. On the other hands, to some other people, working from home might actually undermine their ability to product. The distraction around the house might be one of the many factors. To be able to work from home effectively, the team has to conquer the communication barrier. More emails and more Skype call will help. The person has to have discipline to resist any kind of distraction and focus on their work for a reasonable period. The project managers have to plan properly and to stick to their schedule instead of constantly demanding output from the people. As long as the task is finished accordingly, the project managers shall never bother the engineers too much too soon. I believe telecommuting is good to some employees and some companies. I have not much doubt that it will become the way of life in the future. In the meantime, the team and the team leader shall learn what work best to the company.

old account Frank Eory
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re: Can engineers effectively design at home?
old account Frank Eory   2/28/2013 7:02:00 PM
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Exactly! If a new edict came down that working from home was no longer allowed, then every project schedule would slip -- whether management would "allow" the reality of the slip to be acknowleged or not. Probably every IC design or verification engineer has at some point set up automated emails from the tools that let him/her know that the simulation is finished, or the P&R job is finished or whatever. If that email comes while you're still awake, you have some motivation to jump on the broadband VPN from your home office and get a look at the results. If something went wrong, you can make a tweak and re-start the job right there -- getting a huge leg up on the next work day, compared to coming in the office in the morning and finding a big "oh no!".

mike_m
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Manager
re: Can engineers effectively design at home?
mike_m   2/28/2013 10:01:49 PM
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Most days I get fed better at work than at home. Plus My work depends on me using hundreds of thousands of dollars of network analyzers, spectrum analyzers and other specilized RF equipment along with radio and antenna designs of all frequencies ranges and sizes. Testing new radio and antenna designs on the bench and in aircraft along with the need for interfacing with manufacturing in person makes working at work the only choice. Did I mention the food?

ttt3
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Rookie
re: Can engineers effectively design at home?
ttt3   2/28/2013 10:02:08 PM
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Agreed that being able to VPN from home to take care of short duration, long-lead tasks such as this is invaluable, but I don't think this is the definition of "working from home" that's being discussed here. I can't imagine why an employer would not allow VPN access to their employees.

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