Business Thoughts: Why I Stopped Working From Home and Opened an Office
I hated working in an office a few years ago.
I didn’t like wasting time in traffic. I felt “trapped” having to go an office each day.
Once I made it in affiliate marketing, I worked at home for a few years. It felt amazing to work in my pajamas and only spend 5 seconds to get to my office.
I’ve been able to build up my team the past few years working remotely. We assign tasks in Asana. We chat on Slack. We do a webcam call when needed. It has worked. Many large companies such as Basecamp and Buffer are 100% remote.
Why did I decide to get an office?
Momentum. My companies are doing well right now and I wanna hit things as hard as possible. We get shit done online, but I can’t help but feel that being in person together each day would help us become more productive.
There’s been a huge shift in my mindset the past few years. I thought I wanted the easy life. I thought I wanted to hang out in Asia, with virtual assistants, and work from home. I don’t value freedom as much.
Now I’m killer. I want to make progress as fast as possible. I want to keep growing. If it means I don’t get to work in my Pajamas then so be it.
With anything I do I like to experiment. Would an office be better? Why not try one out for a few months?
I’m on Day 4 of having an office and here are some of my findings.
The overall productivity of the team is much higher.
When you have a company, you can’t just think about your own productivity. You have to think about the output of the entire organization.
I knew plenty of people who had straight A’s in high school. As soon as they went to college the grades went to shit. They couldn’t handle the freedom of college, and worked best under a routine / structure. I feel some of my colleagues work better because they have a set structure everyday.
The leader sets the tone. They see how hard I’m working and they’re stepping their game up as a result.
Communication with me is much, much faster. Sometimes my colleagues have an urgent matter, but I’m away from the desk for a few hours. Now they know what I’m doing and where I am during work hours.
I do feel a stronger sense of loyalty from my colleagues. We’re spending much more time together. They see how hard I’m working on a daily basis. Stronger bonds means I can retain them longer hopefully.
I’m introvert and working alone at home has never bothered me. But it’s definitely nice to be able to see people everyday. I know some people need to be surrounded by others to feel happy.
It costs money. We’re leasing an office around $4,000 a month and we have a 6 month contract. I had to ask myself if I can make more than $24,000 because we’re renting. Don’t think in terms of the price – think in terms of value.
Your employees can become reliant on you for answers. When they have a problem, it’s easy to just ask you for the answer. But this doesn’t help them grow. I don’t pay you to ask me questions, I pay you to solve problems. I have a rule where I’m the final answer. Exhaust every option possible, and only come to me for a solution when you can’t figure it out.
There is commuting time. When I looked for my office, I searched for places that are super close to me. I’m a 3 minute drive so it’s not an issue.
You might be limited in talent pool. By working remote you can hire talent from around the world. Having an office means you either hire locally or they need to be willing to make the move. This could be an issue if you insist on living in a smaller city and need specialized talent.
There’s nowhere for power naps! Whenever I’m tired at home I can just go to my bedroom for a na
There could be disruption when people are traveling. People are use to a work flow being in the office everyday. It could be difficult when some are traveling overseas. This is not too much an issue for me because we’ve been working remote for so long. Even though we’re in an office now, we still have a “remote” culture. All tasks are assigned and completed through Asana. Most communications are through Slack.
Finding an Office
It wasn’t hard to find an office. I wanted to keep things simple and I liked the idea of being in a co-working space.
The criteria I had were
– It’s close to me.
– I have a budget of roughly $6k a month. I didn’t wanna go too overboard.
– Design matters to me because I feel better emotionally around good design. I don’t want to cram 10 people in a dark basement like a sweatshop.
We were able to negotiate a 6 month contract. This is an experiment. If we don’t like it then we can always go back to working from home.
I’ll probably only be at this space for 6 months, and then we’ll head over to a bigger one. The downsides of this place is it’s an open office space and I don’t have my own private office.
Adjusting to Office Life
There’s a 15 minute stand up meeting in the morning. One for my media buying team, and another one for AFFcelerator.
- What did they accomplish yesterday
- What are they working on today
- What do they need help with?
- Any questions?
Everyone knows I love my pomodoros and my cave time. The problem of being in an office are the interruptions.
We’re still working on this. Here’s what I do.
We have “cues” not to bother each other. I have a physical timer on my desk called the Esington glass (Ngo /w another baller recommendation)
This lets people know that I’m in the middle of a pomodoro. When I have headphones on or my timer on, you do NOT interrupt me under any circumstances. I don’t care if my servers are down or someone died, you do not interrupt me until the pomodoros over. It keeps things simple.
I had a corporate job in 2008 and the culture was t-shirt and jeans. I chose to dress up everyday to work because it made me feel better. It made me more productive. It’s a subtle mind shift.
I’m also trying to add in some cool perks to the office. The place lets us bring dogs which is awesome. We’re catering lunches every week. We have a fridge full of healthy snacks and drinks (no sugar zone).
Should You Get an Office?
If you’re starting off then you should work on saving costs. Keep your operations as lean as possible.
Once you start building some momentum then consider experimenting with an office.