Q Crew / Posted 10.2.2012
Making work "work" from any location
One year later, we decided to see if it's still possible to make working work, wherever we are.
While splitting time between the office and home office has always been a part of Q's equation, a co-working space is new variable, so to speak. Home, coffee shop, office, co-working space -- where's the best place to work?
Terris Kremer, front-end developer, high-kick enthusiast
Here’s the thing: I have to be in “work mode” no matter where I am.
Co-working spaces and coffee shops are great, when I’m prepared to ignore the noise and the smells and the fidgeting, but I have a hard time concentrating when I’m aware of other people (and the annoying little things they aren’t aware that they’re doing).
This is my own issue, of course, but there are times when working alone is the easiest way for me to “clear the mechanism,” and if you know what movie I’m talking about, well, I’m sorry for both of us.
“Co-working spaces and coffee shops are great, when I’m prepared to ignore the noise and the smells and the fidgeting, but I have a hard time concentrating when I’m aware of other people (and the annoying little things they aren’t aware that they’re doing).”
Our current co-working space has a lot of great qualities though. The company is comforting, even if no one is paying attention to each other and stepping out of the same four walls of our old office has helped me feel inspired. I’ve met some pretty cool people who tackle problems similar to the ones I do, and it’s great to be able to talk to them about it. The space also has plenty of open desks, so when I need a quick change of scenery, or when I need to stand up or sit down, there’s always a place for me to go.
I still feel like working at home is a risky business, but I’ve learned that there are ways to separate my relaxation place from my “get down to business” place. Having a separate room at home that’s dedicated to work is generally good form anyway and can be customized to taste and tailored to ultimate productivity.
I also like being able to do a high-kick every once in awhile without worrying about hurting someone (besides myself) or embarrassing myself (or someone else).
Holly Gerard, designer, non-coffee drinker
I have never been much of a “go work in a coffee shop” person.
This may have something to do with the fact that I don’t drink coffee and don’t really like smelling coffee. It may also have something to do with the fact that I tend to get distracted by people walking around constantly. This is also a very common event at the co-working space we’re currently using.
I do enjoy working in an office environment with co-workers, but I also really enjoy working from home. I find I get more done at home, only because I have quite a bit more focus. The main reason: I am the only one around to distract myself.
It’s nice to be able to stretch my legs, or just mosey on down to the kitchen to grab a snack at any time or fill up a water glass multiple times without feeling like a distraction to others around me.
I have worked at home for a couple of years now, so maybe I just got accustomed to being alone. Or maybe it’s because I only focus with music on that fits my project of the moment. I have also always been a more introverted-type, so maybe I am just better suited alone time.
“I feel like I will be able to focus even more when the co-working Architect guys aren’t talking as loud as possible on their phones across the room.”
Working at the co-working space is definitely nice change of pace. While it is nice to have the social aspect and to be able to discuss projects in person, I am excited for when we get settled into our new permanent space! I like working with a smaller group of folks.
Co-working has certainly been an experience, but it seems like it will easier to directly control a productive environment when we get to the new space. I have been looking forward to the opportunity for a stand-up and sit-down working situation in the office, and I am really excited about that!
I feel like I will be able to focus even more when the co-working Architect guys aren’t talking as loud as possible on their phones across the room.
Clinton Reeves, developer, laser-focused morning person
Over the years I have worked in a lot of different environments.
I have discovered that I am very particular about where I work, because I am easily distracted and I prefer to able to focus intently on the tasks at hand. Coffee shops, public locations – these are for some people. Personally, I can't get anything done.
Recently, I've had to opportunity to try out a co-working space, which is something I have never done before. The concept of a co-working space was very intriguing. I had never heard of it before, but I thought it was a great idea. After all, there are lots of situations where a company does not need a full-on office all of the time, so why should they have to pay for one? To me, that seems like a pretty big waste of space and money.
“Just remember, all workspaces are not created equal. Take some time to find the one that works best for you.”
Before we made the switch, I was excited about the change, but also worried about my ability to perform. We've been here for a few months now, and I can honestly say the space is quite nice; we have everything we need here, and overall, it's a pretty sweet setup. I was initially expecting lots of noise and tons of distractions, but that rarely ever happens. I have found that the quietest time of the day is in the early morning, which works great for me because I am a morning person.
If a co-working space is set up properly and the services provided by the workspace meets your needs, they’re definitely a great option. Just remember, all workspaces are not created equal. Take some time to find the one that works best for you.
Susan Snipes, principal, AT&T subscriber
I think co-working spaces are a great idea. They seem ideal for independents and small companies. And I think they're a great solution for a temporary workspace -- which is how we ended up in a coworking space. We're waiting for our next office to be built out.
I'm enjoying being at the coworking space Uncubed. The Internet is fast and reliable. There is ample space (and the space has a nice feel). The price is very reasonable. The atmosphere is chill but full of entreprenuer-style energy. Being in a co-working space is like having roommates: if they're your friends they're a lot of fun, but sometimes their habits get on your nerves. We have our own dedicated desks in a cluster. It has challenges, such as the hit or miss music selection - sometimes it's good, sometimes not (of course, headphones can fix that.)
“Being in a co-working space is like having roommates: if they're your friends they're a lot of fun, but sometimes their habits get on your nerves.”
Another challenge is that my AT&T service is really weak there -- super annoying, but not Uncubed's fault. I miss all the great places to walk for lunch. I like that the space has stand-up desks, dedicated meeting rooms and a lot of flexible space so you can sit at a different desk day-to-day or have skype conference calls without bothering your coworkers. I really appreciate the guys in charge too. They were so awesome that they cut two inches off the legs of my desk, so I could have a better ergonomic set up.
I recommend co-working spaces to people that want a place to work away from home, or to small companies of 2-3 people that don't want or need the overhead of a traditional office.
I'm glad to have the experience working at Uncubed, it's been invigorating. And it's been a relief to have a reliable place to work for a couple of months. However, I'm glad it's temporary. I'm looking forward to having our own office again.
Laura Riegel, designer, new mom
It’s been almost a year since I wrote about the balance of working from home verses in the office. Since then, I have had a big change in my life: I’ve had a baby!
For the past two months, I have been easing back into work. I no longer go into the office, and I only work Mondays and Thursdays, about five hours each day, while a nanny watches the kiddo. My most productive time used to be at home, but I have found my productivity now changes depending on the mood swings of my baby.
In some ways it is so amazing. If I want to steal a peek while he is making cute coos, I just pop my head out the door, and immediately my day is brightened. It's wonderful feeling like I'm not disconected from the outside work and my career, while still getting the joys of being connected to him by being in the same house.
“My most productive time used to be at home, but I have found my productivity now changes depending on the mood swings of my baby.”
But there is also a downside to working from home. If he is having a hard day, so am I. No matter how loud the volume of my headphones, when he is getting out a good cry, half my mind is thinking about work and the other half is thinking about him. During worst case scenarios — what I refer to as the “bottle strike”— I have to go in and rescue the nanny. This of course breaks my workflow, which can be difficult and honestly frustrating.
Starting in early 2013, my schedule will change. I will work two full days a week — one day in the office and one day at home. I think then it will really be the best of both worlds. When I am in the office, it will be a nice break from his distracting cries, and when I'm at home, I will get to enjoy my baby’s distracting cuteness.
Mike Wenger, front-end designer, first time c-worker
Working from home is a new experience for me – I have always been an office guy, five days a week, eight plus hours a day.
Since starting at Q Digital Studio, I now work from home on most Wednesdays and just about all Fridays, which creates a nice balance of working in the office and working at home. If you had asked me a couple years ago whether I would enjoy working from home, I would had replied with an adamant "No."
This was because I started as a freelancer working alone without anyone else to bounce ideas off, or keep company with. It could often be lonely and frustrating. I’ve learned a lot in the past few years, so I have a better confidence lever in what I’m doing in terms of web development.
Now while I’m home, I can run out over lunch and get errands done – something that can be tricky when you live 30 minutes from your office. This kind of flexibility means less overall stress when it comes figuring out how I’m going to get the weekly things done that I need to. Thus less stress equals better productivity.
One more aspect of working from home a day or two a week that I really enjoy is being able to get out of bed and get to work right away. I enjoy mornings (once I’m finally up, that is), so I like being able to get straight to work in the morning. I also get a little extra sleep, and get to work a little earlier without having to make the commute.
“With a little variety I find less stress, more productivity, and genuine happiness.”
We also use Skype at Q on a daily basis, so any co-worker is only a few keyboard taps away from a question, idea session or random chat. This is really nice around the 3:00 lull, or when I just can’t seem to figure something out. And when I am in the c-working space, it’s great to have conversations with others in different segments of the industry who can share their varying perspectives.
On the co-working space topic: I enjoy it. I enjoy new experiences, ones that challenge me and give me varying perspectives. I’ve never worked in a co-working environment, so it’s great to have something new to experience. I’ve met some great people, I’ve found some great new music I probably would not have found otherwise, and learned a few things here and there in conversation. I can’t really say I have any complaints.
All in all, it’s about balance. For me, it’s not really about where I’m most productive, but the culmination of these aspects that encourages my productivity. It’s about doing work that I truly enjoy, being in a constant state of learning that keeps me challenged, working with great and talented people and having variety throughout the week.
With a little variety I find less stress, more productivity, and genuine happiness.
Photo credit: christian.pier
The Q Crew consists of the talented folks at Q Digital Studio, who happily bring you essays and insights every week. We’re passionate about all things web and digital. We love ExpressionEngine. And of course, we love you.