I’ve been a software developer for nearly 15 years, the last 10 of which were working mostly independently, from home. During that time, I’ve worked on fixed budged projects, freelance projects, did some consulting and also worked as a contractor, all without setting foot on an office, at least for more than a few hours a month. This is a small recollection of notes and thoughts on the experience I had of working from a client’s office, on-site, as part of a short contract for the last full month.
NOTE This is a post about “offices” in general, but it was triggered by me being accepted and warmly welcomed in one specific office and thus I’m trying to be as balanced as possible while as open and forthcoming as possible. I’ll do my best to be objective and respectful in my remarks.
The Good 😊
Meeting new People
This is something people who’ve worked from home long enough surely value. During this month I’ve meet a whole bunch of really great, welcoming, friendly people, with a great sense of humor and a pile of anecdotes waiting to be told.
Just wow. Being able to glance at someone and knowing whether it’s a great or a terrible time to ask for help… makes such an enormous difference! This is probably the point that surprised me the most about this whole experience.
Nothing to hide
It’s such an unnerving experience when you are putting your best effort into something, from home, but things don’t go the way you expected. The fact that your colleagues can see you busting your ass on getting things done (and coursing, and maybe hitting the desk occasionally) gave me the kind of peace of mind I never had while working remotely.
Not having to convince people that some silly detail is just taking longer than expected, is a big plus for the office.
Social + Playing
Having lunch with your colleagues, chatting with them while the coffee’s being done, the casual ping-pong match or even playing some video games… it was all so refreshing and enjoyable!
All of these interactions helped a lot in reducing tension in later work-related communication. This is no surprise for me, though, and that’s why I always try to meet with the people I work with at the very least once a year, even if it means some intercontinental travel.
The Bad 😡
Oh. My. God. How do people go 10 hours straight with their shoes on? There’s mostly nothing you can do about it if you are a guy, and want to keep a little dignity. Girls have the upper hand here in using open shoes and sandals.
This is one of the things I took for granted the most.
💦ing is alright pretty much everywhere if you are a guy, but
💩ing is so not cool at an office.
Pro-tip: Try and remember going in the morning.
I’m a home office fanatic, I’m well equipped, I have a dedicated office space at home, and it’s all just the way I want it. I’ve designed and had tailor-made and installed my own desktop to be at the perfect hight, perfect size, with the perfect chair, the perfect footrest, the perfect lighting… You see where I’m going with this. I really missed it.
On a separate note. What may pass as decent headphones (even if not perfect) while using them privately may not be while in public.
Food wasn’t too bad, having the chance to share it probably influenced my perception positively. Still, I missed the occasional cooking.
I think I’d miss more cooking if I go work at an office than I’d miss working in my PJs.— Mariano Abdala (@marianoabdala) April 20, 2016
The Meh 😒
I thought commuting would’ve been worst, it’s not so bad. About an hour total roundtrip, good buses, most of the times I managed to grab a seat. I don’t know, it seems like a waste of time but also like a time to let the mind wonder, to simply look out the window and let it be at complete rest.
This acronym takes a whole new meaning when you are at the office. Whilst sometimes confused with pr0n, NSFW is actually anything that’d be unsafe to watch at work (or at the office) and in today’s internet, it is everywhere. Having to be careful not to click that suspicious link a friend just sent you and have a good laugh is kind of a bummer.
The worst part about office clothing, I already mentioned, was having my shoes on for 10 hours straight. Other than that, getting dressed as opposed from working in your PJs isn’t so bad. Switch PJs for jeans and I was mostly done.
Looking ahead 🔮
Even though it was an interesting experience and a positive one, most of “The Good 😊” points are in the social area, which I have already covered by friends, family, going out and my strong involvement in the local dev community in general. Also, after so many years, I’ve made enough remote-working friends that I can have lunch with them or have them over to work together from my home or theirs, or even meet at a coworking space.
In short, I do prefer working from home but I probably wouldn’t mind working on-site in the future if the project, colleagues and working conditions are worth it.
The real question is, how probable is it that all that just happen to be geographically close to me, and at the right time? Slim at best.
If they are to you, you should consider yourself lucky and find a way to deal with “The Bad 😡” in their office, they all have some of it.