Interview with Doug Rutherford

I decided to interview a few people who have worked from home a lot longer than I have. My first interview is with my good friend, Doug Rutherford, whom I’ve known for about 8 years. Doug is the first person I knew well who had a job that allowed him to do all his work from home.

1. What company do you work for and what is your position?

I work for Avaya and last time I checked my title was Customer Interaction Engineer.  That doesn’t say much but what I do is remote technical support for companies that run call centers.

2. How long have you worked from home?

I’ve worked from home full time for about 3 years and occasionally before that for another 4 years or so.

3. What technology (hardware, software, devices) do you rely on to work from home?

The main technology I rely on to work from home is the internet.  Without my VPN connection to work, I can’t remotely connect to customers, I can’t see what trouble tickets I have, I can’t even check my e-mail.  I have a company provided laptop & docking station with dual external screens.  I have an Avaya IP phone on my desk that connects through my network to a phone switch at an Avaya location in Colorado.  We use a custom Siebel application for our case tracking, Outlook for our e-mail, and a variety of web applications including SharePoint.

4. Did your employer provide any of the hardware, software, equipment or internet?

The company used to pay for the internet but they stopped doing that a couple years ago as a cost-saving measure.  Almost all the rest of the hardware & software was provided by them.  I do use a couple free applications that they don’t provide or support such as my terminal emulator.  I think there has been some talk of adopting a BYOD environment but I’d rather they provide and support the equipment I’m loading their software on.  The ownership can all be on them then.

5. Did you approach your employer to work from home? How did that come about? Do you know what % of employees at your company work from home?

Initially, some of us approached our employer about working from home, showing them that we have the technology and resources to make it work.  So a few of us were allowed to try it out once a week as a trial run and then others were granted the same opportunities.  Then we all went to working from home on Mondays and Fridays.  Other people in other groups started working from home more than the office.  Eventually, the office that we worked in closed and we had no other choice but to work from home full time.

6. What have you found to be the biggest challenge working from home?

Probably the biggest challenge to working from home is the lack of being able to hear what others are currently working on and having them do the same.  In the office environment, since we are in a technical support role, we can often learn from each other by simply walking over to the next desk and discussing the current cases we’re working on and being able to bounce ideas off each other thereby soaking up each others experience.  We don’t get that anymore so if we’re learning a new product or technology, it’s a little slower but still doable, just from a different learning environment.

7. What has been the biggest surprise since you started working from home? Has it gone as you expected?

I thought I would miss going into the office and getting to see all my coworkers every day.  But the fact that I’m no longer getting up around 2am, to leave the house by 3am in order to start work by 4am has been a great addition to my sleep schedule.  Now, I’m getting up just a few minutes before I actually start work and take my lunch hour to get showered and ready for the day.  So I get more sleep and I have to spend 2 hours a day less time on the road which amounts to 10 hours a week I get back in addition to the greatly reduced budget I spend on gas and car maintenance each month.  In addition, I get to see my family more.  If my wife needs my help getting kids out the door for school, or making sure someone is there for them after school, I can help with that.  So what I don’t get by going into the office has been greatly compensated for.

Doug is active on Facebook at

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