IBM is moving more and more to the remote employee and virtual team model. Technology allows us to do just about anything from the luxury of our homes. I work with many people who work out of their home and the entire concept is becoming more popular and more acceptable. Any time I find out someone works from their house I immediately ask how they feel about it and if it is working out. The consensus seems to be that you get a lot more work done and you actually have to balance work and life even more because work can take over completely. I found this out in the beginning and every now and then see the same things happening again. Since there is no commute and I rarely leave my office for lunch I immediately get 1-2 hours of more work time a day.
Ok, given that everything seems to benefit both IBM and myself there is one element I feel can never be replaced; that is the element of face-to-face design sessions. You can present over the phone, you can have 95% of your meetings over the phone but when you really need to get ideas across and “brain-storm” you really need that face-to-face meeting. I write a lot of code, a lot of specs and attend a lot of meetings but it seems the white-board design sessions are worth their weight in gold. I just did a 1.5 day session in Austin this past week and we not only got through all of the design but we had time left over to dive on some great details. I was also able to meet with the quality engineering manager to discuss what was designed over the previous day (so we not only have a design but QE is getting prepared to test). If you think about the 4-5 teams involved in the meeting and the complexity of the feature (that spanned both client, server, administration, and several protocols) it is a pretty powerful event to get everyone on the same page in a day.