A Different Way of Working from Home

A PCB designer works from his garden house.

Tomáš Souček’s eyes almost sparkle as he leads us from his family house to his garden house. The walk takes just about 10 seconds, but, symbolically, it divides his two worlds.

The man who designs sophisticated circuit boards takes great care to ensure that the phrase “home office” means what he believes it really means. “The only thing my workspace has in common with my job is the address. I have three laptops here, a 3D printer, and a lot of other work tools.

It is far from the usual cliché when people think I sit with my feet on the desk, a cup of coffee in my hands, and I send a few e-mails per day. It is a real job, just without daily commuting, which would take me about three hours a day,” he describes the main reasons he has been working for Brno companies from his base in Vysočina since 2013.

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[interview-otazka]Tomáš, you commute to Consilia, where you work, approximately once a month.[interview-otazka]

[interview-otazka]But you sprang the key requirement to be allowed to work from home on your previous employer ten years ago. I would like to point out that it was long before the covid pandemic and before the development of a number of currently available technological hacks.[interview-otazka]

[interview-otazka]What is so inspiring about working from home?[interview-otazka]

Working from home is definitely not for everyone. But it is the basic stance for me, and the state I have gotten into has cost me much effort. If someone can fall for it, then anyone can get there. It is much easier nowadays, even though there are a lot of distorted notions about working from home.

First of all, I do not take my job home, and I work neither from my house nor my sofa. I work in the office like anyone else. I leave the house every working day and walk into my office, which used to be under the same roof as the house, but now I have to enter the neighboring building.

Of course, my commute is 10 meters long, which is unique, but it still gives the notion of working from home, or, in my case, from a home office, a completely distinct dimension.

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[interview-otazka]So that means you do not have bottles of beer lying around.[interview-otazka]

It is necessary to realize that when my employer allows me to use my residence as a place of work, there are the same rules here as in the employer’s office. It impacts everything, including health and safety at work, so I must respect that. My employer not only may check me during my working hours, but it is one of his duties to keep an eye on the state of his possessions.

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[interview-otazka]All right, these situations are relatively rare. Why does working from home motivate you personally so much?[interview-otazka]

That is a good question; however, I have never looked at it this way. But a different point of view comes to my mind.

Imagine an office downtown with ten identical vacancies with a laptop, and every morning, ten employees and one boss arrive at work by car from the outskirts. Everyone can look over each other’s shoulder, which is nice, but they usually spend eight hours clicking their mice and then travel back home.

Generally speaking, everyone takes this model for granted, but I have stopped seeing the logic or purpose in this way of working. Why don’t the colleagues commute in one car and, maybe, the boss could drive one round? My perception may be distorted, after all these years of working my him, but I really don’t understand a company that needs ten times more cars, fuel, time, and money to get the same performance.

Whether I look at the situation in terms of ecology, economy, or just the speed of reaching a goal… All programmers commonly take decentralized solutions, use neural networks and cloud sources, but most companies still centralize and concentrate their (human) resources.

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[interview-otazka]I see your point here, but most managers do not have the confidence in the possibility of work efficiency being comparable. How efficient are you when you work from your home office? [interview-otazka]

I like to use the necessary time flexibly. The idea that someone might follow in my work, but they need to wait for the hand-over until the next day when I show up in the office, is unacceptable for me as well as the idea of myself, being stuck because of the traffic for two hours, unable to interfere. I believe commuting to work is a total waste of time for both parties.

For me, traveling to my workplace is more relaxing, that is why I do it mostly on days when we are not nervous about a project deadline. I know I will have two cups of coffee and a prolonged lunch with my colleagues, and we discuss everything regarding not only the ongoing projects.

I know, it is not the most effective way of spending time, but it is necessary to meet my colleagues in person from time to time, and I like it. I know, I can work longer when working from home, sometimes even more than those eight hours. When a project requires it, I am happy to work overtime. It is mainly because I love my job. Sometimes I get so absorbed in my work that I forget about time.

If this happened in a company office, I wouldn't even get home. But if I already am home, I need to have my family nearby and see my children growing up. Plus, in Consilia, we trust each other a lot, and we address the results, not the details.

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[interview-otazka]How do you enjoy working for Consilia? [interview-otazka]

I am really satisfied with the situation I’m in. There is a piece of adventure, adrenaline, and also stress, but that is influenced mainly by my setup and perception. And why Consilia of all places? Because it is the only place where I can participate in so many interesting projects. Almost everyone offers the possibility to grow from easier projects to more complex ones; however, if they offer something more for one’s career, it is always only in a higher, managing position such as project management. It is more attractive to strive for further professional development.

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[interview-otazka]How come people in Consilia stay in the same positions longer than usual in the field?[interview-otazka]

For me, the answer is very simple, although I have received offers with a possibility of a higher salary, nobody has been able to offer the same possibilities to me to participate in electronics development for different branches of industry.

[interview-otazka]Could you be more specific?[interview-otazka]

Imagine a company that specializes in producing lighting for various car types, cooperates with many automobile factories, and all the rear lights they specialize in are not only manufactured but also developed there from the first design for optics, mechanics, and electricity.

And you come, as a designer, after two years in the company, to your boss to tell them you have designed enough lights, and now you want to design controlling electronics for autonomous control. They will probably think you have lost your mind.

On the other hand, my colleague Petr Horák and I have successfully cooperated on the development of new devices for companies of various sizes, from start-ups to international concern groups; so far, we have worked in the Aerospace, Automotive, Computers, Electronic Defense, Measurement, Medical Equipment, Radio & Telecommunications, and Wearable Technology fields.

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[interview-otazka]In what way is Consilia unique to its customers?[interview-otazka]

We place more demands on the products used in the industry, be it in terms of safety or reliability. We can look at this from different angles. In my opinion, it is an interesting and variable job with many specialists in a number of teams, so my excitement is not decreasing yet. From the point of view of a company that would like to cooperate with us, they see a group of highly qualified and motivated engineers who can bring something extra from ”different worlds.”

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