In most tech companies, it has become commonplace to have VPN access to allow for working remotely. This can allow for greater productivity and flexibility for employees should they need to work from home or during business trips. It can also lead to some drawbacks. If you are not careful you could see a lot of your time-off spent doing work to the point that it feels like you never left the office. This can be especially difficult for workaholics and people with mindsets that can’t leave things unfinished.
During one of my projects doing performance testing, this became a problem. Performance testing requires certain tests be executed over a long period of time. These tests can be referred to as soak or endurance tests. They can be executed for days at a time with the longest being 7 days. It is necessary to monitor these tests at all times. As time went on in the project and tests were not working the way they should I found myself spending more time working after hours trying to get the tests completed. When issues would come up I would spend time debugging and sending logs to the dev team and trying out fixes. The ability to work from home made it easy for this workload to get out of control and it began to take its toll.
To prevent this from happening again, I made some changes. I talked more with my manager to set expectations for the next project. I allocated more time for debugging and working with development to fix issues when planning the tasks. I also made suggestions that at least one more performance tester be added to the team which was eventually agreed to due to the scope of the next project. If I took time in the evening to work, I would try to balance that out taking some time off early with the approval of my manager.
I started asking myself can it wait until tomorrow? If I answered yes to this question then I would leave it for tomorrow. I had to break the habit of wanting to log-in to work as soon as I got home.
There is still room for improvement. One goal is to automate where possible. Automating complex performance tests can be daunting but worth the time and effort. Another place for improvement is in communication and delegation.
VPN provides the opportunity to work remotely. You provide the decision of when, where and how. So VPN can also stand for Very Purposeful Now!