This week I have started a new contract and this one is very different from previous gigs I have been on, because I am working from the office that we’ve been renting for the past two years – full-time! Woo hoo! It is about time and my commute is neglible because the office is just a smidgeon over a mile from the front-door of our house. I am here at about 8:30am and now have the chance to go to the gym (re-joined recently) first thing or cycle in, take a leisurely walk. Though in recent weeks I have cheated by taking the car, it’s cold, come on! Anyway this whole thing is a step towards a better work-life balance – I hope! It is scheduled to run until May 15th this year, so let’s see if extensions are forthcoming. If not then there are others that can follow on from this. I would love to work with clients further afield too, opening up the travel possibilities.
How did I get this role?
Most of the contracts I take, come in through agencies, I get paid a day rate and they take their cut. Admittedly LinkedIn is playing a bigger role for me now and as you become more established as a contractor/freelancer, it gets easier to source work. I started looking last Tuesday and by Friday, I was signing the contract but I did go for 3 different roles in the process. The remote role appealed a lot because I wanted it! I got it! Two telephone interviews and the process was done.
What is Remote working exactly?
In most cases we get up early, catch a train, drive for an hour or so (each way) and join a team who are all located in the same office. We all log on to client machines that are hooked up to an internal network, with the equipment we use mostly provided by the employing company. You can see, hear everyone around you, offices can be noisy places which for some people, especially if you are an introvert coder, can be a total nightmare. I am not entirely one of those people. In any case I am not alone, as my office is between two other companies who I chat with when given the chance. However I can shut my door, sit down, put some headphones on and focus.
Remote work is utterly different and this is the first time I have truly got involved with it. So perhaps I should journalise it?
I have my own office, my own equipment and in my case it is separate to our house, it is located in a gorgeous old Victorian building that was renovated a decade ago and now houses multiple small businesses. I chose this option because working from home is hard, at least it is for me and you end up never leaving the house. Here I don’t have that problem. I lock the door at the end of the day and go home! Some people are happy to stick at home or some even go out to cafes or co-working spaces that are more lively, more public. If you have a laptop these days, you can easily do that too. It is good to have options and for businesses (some at least) to be more visionary.
I am working with a team of 3 other developers, one of whom is the CEO for the business. We are outsourced by a third-party company who are developing a suite of web and mobile apps for a large American client. So it is truly global. We are all spread over the country and we collaborate using online tools. Slack being one of the main tools that we use. Our code is committed to BitBucket and we run Continuous Integration/Deployment. We can see what other team members have been working on and we can see the outcome when we hit a URL in the browser. So the client has measurable results the whole way.
I can remember reading the book “Remote: Office not required” by David Heinemeier Hansson (creator of Ruby-on-Rails) and Jason Fried (founder of Basecamp) and it opened my mind to the possibilities. I also think of Buffer who are very similar, in that their team are spread far and wide, from London to Melbourne via San Francisco.
Why not? The Internet surely makes this all possible – it does – but there are pitfalls, some say it is hard to tell whether their team are working effectively, reliably, efficiently and doing their core hours. You perhaps have to be twice as disciplined to make it work and you can run into the trap of working 24/7. I have been there, sitting watching a film and writing some code at the same time. Luckily my Wife gets it because for me this is a hobby that pays the bills. This week I have done something I don’t normally do, I leave my laptop in the office, so that we can watch the films and be socialable with other humans!
Back on WordPress?
I have been creating some other websites recently, you may wish to take a look if you’ve not yet seen them.
I am going to carry on with them all but will start writing here again, I have missed the community that I started to establish with this WordPress site. However I will be experimenting with turning WordPress into a “Headless CMS” at some point this year…. watch this space as they say!