Vacation or work?

Working from an Airstream

Richard Charpentier Airstream, Notes from Rich, Travel Leave a Comment

Airstream at work

Our Airstream is at the end of the line here. We were at a client location working on their website.

I think the concept of working from home isn’t new to anyone these days.  There are many professions that can work from a home office easily.  Back in my network design, engineering, and operations days I could manage telecommunications switches across the U.S. from my living room.

IT workers often work from remote locations.  “Dial in” and get your work done.  Well, okay the idea of dialing in is long gone, but I think you can visualize it.  With many tech jobs, home can be your office.

In my case, my Airstream is my home and office.  A smaller footprint to be sure.  Back in New Hampshire I had a computer room that almost has as much square footage as the whole Airstream.  So working from the Airstream is a little different than my home office.  More compact, completely mobile, made of aluminum!

Who is doing this?

So, who gets to work from home, or work from the road?  Right off the bat, many people in the IT (information technology) field.  Programmers, database experts, web developers, network engineers.  People who don’t need to be physically present, but instead can produce their work anywhere.

Of course, others can do it as well.  Writers always spring to mind.  Just look at Bert Gildart, he produces a large volume of books and articles from the road, along with his photography.  And there’s another group, photographers.  If you don’t need an office across the hall from your boss, you might be able to do it too.

Over the course of 2015 we’ve met multiple full time families who are working from the road.  This year alone I’ve met several independent programmers who work with their clients remotely.  I’ve also met another full timer that has work all over the country.  When it’s time to work, it’s time for him to fly to the next location.  I’ve also met a few web developers working on large scale projects.  And finally, I met a database designer and his family.  One thing I noticed about him?  He liked to sit outside under the awning when doing his work.

So, it is possible to work from the road, and from an Airstream.  But there are a few cautions I’d offer

Staying focused

My Airstream is 25 feet long, 8 feet wide.  If it was completely empty there would be 200 square feet of space in it.  Unfortunately, the Airstream isn’t empty.  So there’s less space to move around in.

The new Airstream workstation.  Shot with the G11 bracketed for HDR

The new Airstream workstation. Shot with the G11 bracketed for HDR

Fortunately with our recent alterations we actually feel like there’s more room in the Airstream now.  The new workspace is working.  Still, it is easy to get distracted here sometimes.  If I’m on a call I go outside so I don’t interrupt what Jodi is working on.  And if she’s on a call, well same thing.  It’s easy to get distracted in the space we have, and easy to start gazing out the window and thinking about a hike.

So there’s a level of discipline required to work from the road.  I think it’s the same level of discipline required for those who work from home.

Creating routines is something I’ve been working on for years when I work out of the Airstream.  In the old days I had a 1.5 hour commute to my switch.  I’d leave the house insanely early to avoid rush hour and find myself at work before 7 a.m.  Here I roll out of bed and “the office” is right in front of me.  I can jump right to work. But that may not be the best idea.  So lately I take a walk around the park (whatever park I’m at).  It’s my pretend commute.  Just to get the day started without immediately sitting down at the computer.

Around lunch time I like to step out again for a bit.  Like the drive to get lunch when you’re at the office.  Breaking things up again.

I think the hardest part is figuring out when “quitting time” is.  You can work all day and not finish everything.  So creating an actual time to say no more work is also necessary.

It’s not a vacation but…..

Every day is not a vacation just because you’re in an Airstream or RV.  The road warriors I’ve met this year have scheduled meetings, work times, family time, etc.  While they may be parked in a lovely location they still have to pay the bills.  But one nice part of working this way is getting to park where you’d like, and enjoying some different scenery now and again.  Park in the Red Rocks of Sedona while those on a conference call with you stare at office walls.  View a lake out your back window while working on a deadline.  You get the idea.  But even with new locations, work is still work.

A nice place to park your office

A nice place to park your office



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