Careers: Being a Successful IT Professional from Home
The company I work for has several initiatives going, one for products, one for technical support and service but generally our CEO is pointing our vision towards Everything as a Service. I like to use Pizza as a service to demonstrate how moving from Traditional On-Premises to Everything as a Service looks. Traditional on-Premise (OP) is like making a homemade pizza, you do everything and eat it at home. The next option is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), you buy a pizza at the store. and take it home to bake it. Then comes Platform as a Service (PaaS). With this step you call from home and have the pizza delivered. Last would be Software as a Service (SaaS). It is like going to a pizza restaurant and eating out.
Each of these models have two types of management, you manage it and vendor management. With Everything as a Service, you can pick the level of management you want with any or all aspects of you IT infrastructure. You can divide it up; storage, compute, networking, physical or virtual, hardware or software, pick the location; yours, ours, any cloud, hybrid and decide what level of managementÂ if any you want to be responsible for. This type of business model was conceived with a traditional work model in mind, but easily adjusts itself to a work from home workforce. It has proved successful in the last quarter, but we did have to make some changes. As an IT Technical Specialist, a working from home for my company is easy.
Working from home in a customer support role has taken a little getting used to, and a few adjustments as well. For 2 years before the Virus outbreak, I worked 4 ten-hour shifts, Friday through Monday nights from 10 pm until 8 am. I would have to work from home on occasion during bad weather and when the boss told me to. I could shut the office door and while the wife and pets were asleep, and assist the customers as needed without disturbing anyone. I enjoyed going into the office though and the drive to and from work was easy because at that time the traffic in Atlanta was great compared to the daytime. In Atlanta when it comes to traffic, there is no gravity, the only thing holding the cars on the road is it sucks. But I digressâ€¦I loved the shift; my customers knew I was there when they needed me, and life was good.
Then came the call on Friday before going in, don’t come in, we are going to close the office. You are to work from home until further notice. So, the work from home saga began. I had done it before and had most of what I needed. I went downstairs to the basement and dug up a couple of old VGA monitor’s, found an extra USB keyboard and mouse and created a workspace on the other end of my desk from my home pc and monitors. The conversation with my wife went something like, “just how many computers do you need?”- “Maybe one or two more”. About a month later, everything shifted again, and the company did some restructuring. I went from 4 ten hour shifts at night to 5 eight-hour days Monday through Friday. It has taken a while, but I have started to figure out when to sleep and when to be awake.
When I first got into IT from construction, I found that to be more successful, I needed to belong to a professional IT association.Â I also needed to get some certifications in my area of expertise because a “Degree” just meant that I was teachable. It didn’t show anyone I knew what I was talking about. I joined the NPA while in college (I went to college at 48) as a student member and became a professional member later. The networking with people, and knowledge shared, place me in a position to be a successful IT Networking Professional. For example, the NPA just had a seminal on “How to Optimize Your Home Wireless Network” for members. Being Successful is directly tied to being a Professional.
I find that getting up early and getting ready for the day like I was going to work, sets the tone for my day. If I am going to be professional, I should look like and act like one. Just like I was driving to office. For me dressing for success works so I dress just as I would as if I were going to the office. I sit down at the “work” desk and make sure everything is working before my assigned start time. VPN’s, IP phone, the needed browser windows open, Skype, email, troubleshooting tools, everything.
My phone headset was at the office, so that was the first thing I had to invest in. Paying a little more for a long lasting one is the way to go. The first cheap one I bought lasted less than 2 weeks. Using computer audio will work but it is not optimal. The next thing I noticed was, compared to the office my internet was turtle slow. The provider I have is wired, not cable, but they were able to double my speeds. I have no issues now and my home network, both wired and wireless is very sufficient. (I am a network guy after allâ€¦)
Remember those 2 VGA monitors?Â Different resolutions and not very large, I went ahead and got a large high-resolution monitor, to handle all the open windows I tend to have when in the middle of troubleshooting an issue. I tried to be cheap at first and used a flat screen tv, but the pixels just didn’t cut it and I spent most of my time trying to read the screen. My laptop fan seemed to run all the time, which it has done since I was issued it, but when I bought a laptop cooling pad it seemed to improve laptop performance. I guess what I am saying here is that if a tool helps me to help my customers better, it is worth the expense. When you get down to it my reputation depends on it.
I take a break in the morning and afternoon when I am not helping customers on the phone. I also take a lunch break (use the whole hour!) to get out of the “office”. The coffee pot is closer, and I can get a cup when I need and still work. When it is time to get off work, I finish up the days paperwork and case notes and do something different before I return to the home office side of the desk. I still pay bills, check and answer email, manage websites, and all the myriad of other things that someone in IT does from their home pc. As a matter of fact, my home pc was 5 years old and was at the point of not being able to open a browser and an email at the same time. That was my last “not for work IT” project.
Drawing lines between work and “home-work” helps a little, but I do a lot of extra-curricular stuff on my computer. Some days it feels like I never leave the office, but then when I do get out and do some yardwork or a project in the garage, I feel ready to get back to it. I find myself studying more for things like certifications and learning new things like coding and containers. Being in IT you know that we are constantly keeping up to date with improvements and needing to know more about something. My mentor says, “When you stop learning in IT, lay down because you’re dead.” I schedule a minimum of 30 minutes for study or research, both during the workday for work stuff and at home for personal growth. I have found that if I know what is expected of me at work, and I try to do just a little better, that when I swivel my chair to the other pc I can get more done both at work and at “home”. It seems I get to spend more quality time with the family as well.
About the Author:
Mike is a 2011 graduate of DeVry University, and holds Cisco, VMWare and Commscope certifications. IT (Networking) is Mikes third career. He served in the U.S. Army as a Forward Observer in the Artillery, spending 3 years in the Korean DMZ, and was an integrator of the Army’s TacFire Computerized Artillery weapons System Software at both Ft. Riley Ks. for the 1st Infantry Division and at Ft. Stewart Ga. For the 24th Infantry Division (M) in the early 80’s. He successfully owned and operated Nedes Construction, before being forced to close it because of health reasons. Starting IT as a career around 2008, Mike has had a rounded experience, but his passion is Data Center Infrastructure Management. He currently works for Hewlett Packard Enterprise as a technical Solution Consultant for HPE’s SimpliVity Storage Solution. He affectionately calls SimpliVity, “A Data Center in a Box”. Mike likes to whittle and carve to relax, and makes canes, walking and hiking sticks and staffs in his spare time. He was awarded the title of ‘Kentucky Colonel’ by the Governor of Kentucky for his volunteer work there. He has been married to Anna, his second wife for 19 years and they live in Kennesaw, Georgia. They are involved in the Grandfather Mountain Branch of Clan Cameron and go to several Highland Games around the Southeastern United States. They plan on retiring around Boone North Carolina area, as they have many friends there. Mike can be reached on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeseden/ and at firstname.lastname@example.org.