"You must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool" - Richard Feynman

On Working from Home

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!

7 Comments

  1. za5 · June 20, 2011

    Did you and the rest of the guys in your company not have regular meetings or sessions where you worked together just for the sake of being face to face periodically?

    • Tyler Reed · June 20, 2011

      Indeed! However, I’ve come to realise it’s not entirely enough (at least for me). It’s also about balancing work life and home life for me now. I’ll still do the late night hustle, it’s how I am, but I would like to be able to have a stricter approach. I feel an office will definitely help, having experienced both sides of the coin now.

      • Chris M · June 21, 2011

        Scheduled face 2 face meetings are never as good as spontaneous ones. The balance you talk of is crucial too.

  2. Tyron Bache · June 20, 2011

    From my limited experience of working from an office and then home and then back to the office, I agree working from both home and the office have there ups and downs. I hope the office hunt goes well, I definitely laugh a lot more now at the office and having a group of people to help with ideas and solve problems face to face is great but nothing beats waking up late, grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting in silence to start your day while everyone else is stuck in traffic! Looking froward to your reflections a year from now.

  3. SimonB · June 20, 2011

    Working from home has it’s ups and downs. Been doing it now for 12 years and would never swap it for an office.

    Having said that, I agree with Tyler that each person has things that trigger their creative juices. My creative juices are triggered, when I am not stressed. Sitting round a camp fire in the Kruger park, Addo elephant national park, or on the beach in Natures Valley. Take me to an office, make me sit in traffic for a few hours and my mind starts to shut down.

    Yes I have done this in my life and I agree that face2face creative meetings are a great idea and help to get the juices flowing. For me though,never on a permanent basis.

    Point is whatever works best for you, is what you must focus on. I hope your new office hunt goes well. Looking forward to popping in there next time I am in town.

    • Steven · June 20, 2011

      Very interesting post Tyler.

      I agree that social banter and the ability to bounce ideas around in person can have a positive effect to a working day. In an office you come to know some of your colleagues better than certain close friends or even family members, and its this tight-knit bond that in most cases makes a great team.

      The key to make an office work for you is to make it feel nothing like an office, I think companies like Google has proved how how productive people can be when they are giving a little freedom.

      Good luck finding an office that suites your team and I hope it brings you that much needed social banter you craving.

  4. Chris M · June 21, 2011

    Ye, that’s a situation I’ve been through as well to an extent. I was working from home for 3 months and loved it in the beginning, but then I started to crave being around other creative people, being able to sit at a table and solve something with someone, being able to share a cigarette break and all of those things. I decided to look for a job rather than getting an office and hiring, it was a personal decision, but one which would put me back in the mix, for lack of better words.

    I think working from home can work if you have a flatlet or external room, separate to the house, and you can get at least 1 or 2 people in there with you.

    Another good thing about an office is that it makes for having clients over much easier, I was fortunate in my previous residence, as I had a coffee shop on the bottom floor and the building was rather upmarket, but now I’m in a more residential position and I don’t feel it would be sufficient.

    Do you have these shared-space offices in Jozzie? We’ve got quite a few here – rent an office, which is part of a hub, which provides all the facilities – that’s an option. I’d prefer my own place and all, but cost wise it might be worth exploring.

    Good luck mate, hope you find a good place and some team members to share good times with!