Saturday, December 15, 2007

On Moving, Part 1


The space in which you work completely defines the parameters of your activity there. It outranks even your CEO by placing hard physical boundaries around what types of work can and cannot be done. Work which requires quiet cannot be done in an environment full of noise. Work which requires collaboration cannot be done in a small room. Work which requires creativity will suffer in a dreary environment, and thrive in a beautiful one.

On Monday we will have the opportunity to discover what kind of work we can do in a large, window-rich, cosmopolitan downtown office space. Downtown! The lights! The glamor! New restaurants! Bus passes!

At every stage in our growth we have bristled against too-small office space that failed to meet our needs. Not enough privacy, not enough rooms, not enough wiring, not enough light, something. I want to code, and someone's one cube over arguing about a feature. I need to have a conference call, but have no door. I need to pee, but there's only one bathroom for 12 of us. I want to see if it's raining, but I have to hit F12 because the window is down the hall. I want to sketch a brilliant design, but the wall's too small for a decent whiteboard. I want to work 8 hours and wonder where the time went, but the overhead lighting gives me a headache before noon, and this desk is too small to put my coat, notepad, and lunch on it all at the same time. I wonder if Google would give me a bigger desk?

Obviously when you're a startup, even a funded one, you can't afford Building 99. But you do have to strike a balance, because every millisecond I spend thinking one of the above thoughts, I'm not writing great code.

But! Downtown! Here's some of the things our new space enables us to do:
  • Allow our receptionist to greet visitors immediately at a striking entry desk
  • Hold a meeting in a real conference room
  • Enjoy our view of Westlake plaza from any point within the office
  • Retire to a secluded space to be left undisturbed when necessary
  • Write on the half-glass walls with whiteboard pens
  • Put huge desks in the offices
  • Work from home over a real VPN
  • Step out the elevator doors to the middle of downtown, anytime we want
All of which are things that enable us to spend less time thinking about the stuff we can't do, and more time doing what we want to do - making great software.

Tomorrow, Part 2: Moving Day

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