It’s been just over two years since I had an office. In early 2009, I decided it would probably be a good idea to let everyone work from home and also start hiring people remotely. It would save on time wasted in traffic, it would cost less from a company perspective and it would be awesome in general. In this day and age, we are able to take advantage of wonderful technology like Skype and the range of 37Signals products (among others) to assist us with working remotely.
Initially, I loved the idea and the first year or so was an absolute pleasure. I was spending less time in traffic and I could wake-up a little later than usual. It was obviously a challenge learning to work with and manage people remotely, but it became easier as time went on. However, over the last year, I have slowly come to miss the social banter and the ability to bounce ideas around in person, which also leads to much more efficient problem solving. The experience between working in person and communicating in chat windows and video calls is very different.
In order to break the monotony of working from home, I often find myself working from a coffee shop or restaurant. While this is good every now and again, I have found it to be distracting and less productive sometimes. It also adds to a wonderful food bill and poor diet.
Therefore, I have decided it’s time for me to hunt for an office again and fill it with some people. I think it’s a personal choice, as I have come across many freelance professionals, developers and entrepreneurs who love working from home and have been doing so for years. However, in my case I simply need the social interaction to feed my creative and problem solving juices. I also want to be able to balance work and life better, and I believe having proper distance between the office and home will help me achieve that.
While I need an office, I’m not saying I won’t hire or allow people to work remotely. I have found that hiring remotely can be a very useful way to attract and recruit incredible talent. I don’t think business needs to be too bound by location these days. It’s fairly easy to manage people all over as long as you use the right tools and have the right processes in place. I just need a space that allows me to work more efficiently.
If you are interested in a visual representation of the upside and downside of working from home, take a peak at Why working from home is both awesome and horrible. It’s terribly accurate!