Developing Perspective

#29: Working in an Office


00:00:00   Welcome to Developing Perspective. Developing Perspective is an intermittent

00:00:04   podcast hosted by me, David Smith. I'm an independent iOS developer based in

00:00:08   Herndon, Virginia. Today I'm going to be talking about working at home and more

00:00:14   specifically working outside of the home when you have the opportunity to

00:00:18   work at home. So I run my own business. I'm an independent iOS

00:00:23   developer. And most people I know who do similar things to what I do choose to work out of

00:00:31   their home. There's an office downstairs if they're so lucky, or either bedroom, or in

00:00:37   the living room. I've heard all kinds of things like that. And I've been doing this for about

00:00:41   six years. And the thing that I found, though, that that particular arrangement typically

00:00:48   doesn't work very well for me. And here I was going to kind of work through in this

00:00:53   podcast kind of why. Why I prefer to work outside of my home. So basically, I'll do

00:01:01   a little backstory. So I used to work out of a room in the bottom of my house and that

00:01:06   worked pretty well. It's nice to not have a commute. It's nice to have no additional

00:01:12   cost. If anything, you actually have a cost savings if you set up a home office deduction

00:01:16   and your taxes and things.

00:01:18   So it's nice from those perspectives.

00:01:21   I have all my things with me whenever I need them.

00:01:24   It's just like, oh, I forgot that thing at the office.

00:01:26   It's just always there.

00:01:29   And my office, the time I worked was typically much more

00:01:32   flexible.

00:01:33   I can go downstairs.

00:01:35   I can come upstairs.

00:01:36   If I need, oh, let me get a snack, I can go do that.

00:01:40   That worked pretty well for a couple of years.

00:01:43   However, then something happened.

00:01:45   We had our first child.

00:01:47   In our case, it was her boy, who's almost three, recently had a second child.

00:01:52   And what I found is, though, that it created a strange--

00:01:58   I guess I could almost call it attention.

00:02:01   And specifically, it was most magnified by when

00:02:06   my wife decided to be at home a lot more with the kids,

00:02:10   is I found that I was no longer able to be sort of splitting myself between the two places.

00:02:17   That I would be either always, in some ways always working, and in some ways never working,

00:02:22   and in some ways always at home, and in some ways never at home. Because, you know, you go downstairs,

00:02:28   it's like, "Hey honey, I'm gonna go to work, I'll go do some things down, I hear something happening,

00:02:33   you know, my son's not happy about something, whatever. And so all of a sudden I'm distracted,

00:02:40   I'm like, "Oh, is he okay? Is everything fine? Should I help? Can I help?" And there's part of

00:02:48   that sort of a distraction. But I think the thing that was really worse about it, it's not to say

00:02:53   that it was a distraction because it was something that I wanted to do. I liked being able to be

00:02:59   helpful, but what I think of it really meant though is I was always there and I

00:03:04   sort of felt guilty if I didn't help around and do things at home. And then on

00:03:10   the flip side it's like I would, because work was always there, you know, six, seven

00:03:15   o'clock at night, it's like, oh, I wonder how, I wonder if I got an email back from

00:03:18   that. I wonder if, oh, here's a thought I had, I wonder if I did this in this code

00:03:23   here and I could fix this problem that I've been having. And I could go and do

00:03:28   it. Or even worse is even if I didn't go and do it, I could think about going to do it. And in some

00:03:34   ways that's worse because then it's just this kind of this constant nagging on my mind of like, "Oh,

00:03:40   what if I tried this? What if I tried that?" You know, I don't know if you're anything like me,

00:03:44   but it's kind of like you get your best ideas in the shower. There's a lot of activities I do it

00:03:47   around the house that even if not necessarily shower, it's like doing dishes or cleaning up

00:03:53   or those types of activities where it's just, you know, it's like I have this

00:03:57   latent mental ability that I can be like, "Oh, I wonder about this, oh, I wonder about that,"

00:04:02   and it was always kind of distracting. So what I did is I went and got a,

00:04:06   looked around for office space, and about a year ago I moved into an office just about a mile from

00:04:13   my house, just normal regular office, and it was actually worked out pretty well. The office space

00:04:19   itself I'll talk about it in a little bit but the thing that I found that was

00:04:23   really great is now I would get up in the morning and take a shower which

00:04:29   sometimes was a unique thing if you're still working from home you'll often

00:04:32   find that suddenly your pajamas wear out far more quickly than they ever did

00:04:37   before and what I would find is you know if I get a shower have breakfast kiss my

00:04:42   wife goodbye say goodbye to my son and go to work and I was at work I knew that

00:04:48   And if my wife needed me, she would call me.

00:04:51   And if I didn't get a call, things were okay.

00:04:54   Sometimes she'd have bad days, sometimes she'd have great days.

00:04:57   But I was able to, when I was at work, to be at work.

00:05:00   And I would leave everything about work at the office so that I would not feel compelled

00:05:06   or tempted or in any way encouraged to do stuff.

00:05:11   And so when I'm at home, it meant that I was at home.

00:05:13   I remember talking to my wife a couple months after I started this and asking her, "Well,

00:05:19   how's it going?

00:05:20   What do you think this process is doing?"

00:05:23   And she said, "What you liked is when I was at home, I really was at home.

00:05:28   I was present, I can almost say, not just sort of in body, but also in mind and focus."

00:05:33   And I think the exact opposite was also true when I was at the office.

00:05:37   And that separation created a lot of, I think, reduced a lot of anxiety for me.

00:05:43   I didn't feel guilty, like, "Oh, am I doing something wrong?"

00:05:46   I was like, "No, I'm at the office.

00:05:47   That's a normal, typical thing that people do."

00:05:51   And when I was at home, I'm at home.

00:05:53   So that was a huge plus for me.

00:05:56   I think it was also nice to be able to set up my work environment just like how I like

00:06:01   it, and nothing would disturb that.

00:06:03   Because inevitably with a home office, things just kind of get moved around and just sort

00:06:09   of your life takes over.

00:06:10   Whereas it was much nicer at the office.

00:06:13   Another benefit of having a separate office space is it made it much easier for me to

00:06:17   be able to bring people in who are colleagues.

00:06:21   I started a thing called Office Hours where once a week any local developer could come

00:06:26   in and just hang out at the office and work.

00:06:29   And it was kind of a nice thing.

00:06:30   it to kind of that water cooler discussion, going out for lunch, kind of pulling a bit

00:06:34   of that, what would you miss by working from home versus having a traditional office environment.

00:06:39   You know, that was great.

00:06:41   And then I've even moreover been able to establish more long-running relationships with people

00:06:46   who come into the office on a regular basis.

00:06:49   And we collaborate and we work together and we talk about what's going on.

00:06:56   And that kind of sparks thoughts, sparks creativity.

00:07:00   If I'm having stuck with something, I have someone to bounce that off.

00:07:03   And it helps a lot with the isolation part of working from home, where if normally your

00:07:08   only kind of interaction with the outside world is email, Twitter, maybe some campfire

00:07:12   chats, some RSS readers, like it's very isolating that in some people say, oh, go to a coffee

00:07:19   shop.

00:07:20   I never found that because I mean, I'm around people, but I'm not talking to these people.

00:07:24   I'm not interacting with them in a way that I would when I'm, you know, used to work in

00:07:27   an office.

00:07:29   And so that was a great sort of adjustment.

00:07:32   The thing that was difficult with my first office, though, is that it was a bit bigger

00:07:36   than I needed.

00:07:38   And if you ever look for office space, it's kind of a complicated thing because you need--

00:07:44   office space typically doesn't come in very small amounts of space if you're actually

00:07:49   leasing it directly from a landlord.

00:07:51   I think I had to lease 818 square feet of office space, which is quite a lot.

00:07:56   And so the cost of it was a bit more than I really needed.

00:07:58   I mean, the office itself was great.

00:08:00   I mean, I could put up, I think at most we had like 12 people in there sometimes.

00:08:04   And that's kind of cool, but I'm an independent developer, so I need 12 people in there very often.

00:08:10   So recently I moved into a new office, and this is the inaugural podcast from that new office.

00:08:16   I'm actually releasing an office through a company called Regis, which is kind of...

00:08:21   they do these small micro office leases where, you know, I have this nice big suite,

00:08:25   as a receptionist, a kitchen, all that kind of stuff. And I now have a room within that office

00:08:31   suite. That's mine. And so far, so good. It's been working pretty well. No real complaints,

00:08:37   but like I said, I've only been here for, let's see, about two hours now. But I mean,

00:08:42   I definitely decided that after doing an office for the first, you know, for all of last year,

00:08:47   it's like, this is what I need to continue to do. I thought about when my lease was up,

00:08:50   oh, maybe I'll go home.

00:08:52   And I did a little bit of that, but I

00:08:54   missed being able to leave work at work.

00:08:57   I missed being able to be at work when I'm at work.

00:09:03   And it's kind of a subtle thing.

00:09:05   It's a weird kind of a productivity,

00:09:09   work-life balance kind of thing.

00:09:11   But I would just encourage anybody

00:09:13   who is struggling with that to try it out.

00:09:15   I mean, a lot of these places let

00:09:17   you do it on an ad hoc basis.

00:09:19   You can even try it for, you know, like just rent it for a month for a couple hundred bucks

00:09:24   and see if you feel like, see if you do better work, see if you work harder, see if you are

00:09:30   able to focus more.

00:09:31   Because I mean, if you're any kind of consultant, if it adds a couple of hours of productive

00:09:36   work to your week, then it's more than paid for itself.

00:09:40   So something to think about, something I'd encourage sort of other independents to think

00:09:44   about.

00:09:45   And it's, you know, I never really used to thought about it for the first couple of years.

00:09:50   I never even thought of getting an office.

00:09:52   I mean, I'm an Indian.

00:09:53   It's me.

00:09:54   It's just one person.

00:09:56   But if your mindset or mentality or home life is anything like mine, it's definitely something

00:10:01   that I would consider.

00:10:02   So anyway, that's kind of the thoughts for today.

00:10:05   Just kind of a short post today, but hope you enjoy it.

00:10:08   Anyway, this is Developing Perspective.

00:10:10   If you have any thoughts, comments, concerns, the best place to hit me up is on Twitter.

00:10:15   I'm @_davidsmith.

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00:10:30   It's developingperspective.com.

00:10:32   And otherwise, have a great Thursday.

00:10:35   And I will talk to you later.

00:10:37   Bye.

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