Life Outside My Cube

My life, a work in progress.

At Home vs In An Office

The consultant came in for an 11am meeting with my boss and his backup engineer, that lasted just over an hour. I got pulled into the meeting too, as my workload was light today. Interesting stuff, good to be there; I’m glad I wasn’t too busy to attend.

We went for lunch afterwards, along with a couple other guys from the office, to a local place. This happens often – purposely scheduling a near-noon meeting so we can extended it in an informal way for another hour over a meal. Particularly for clients whose relationship we want to encourage.

In this case, the consultant was a good friend of my boss, so it was a pretty casual lunch. We had a pleasant varied and surface-y conversation, some business, around the table, and left more friends than business associates. And, the boss expensed the meal, which was a bonus.

One advantage to working in an office is the opportunity to take part in such impromptu meetings/lunches. If I were working at home or offsite, I would not have been invited to the meeting, and would have missed the lunch. While not critical in terms of my work or job performance, it was helpful in terms of being connected to activities within the company and relationships with my co-workers.

In each of these lunches, I learn something new about someone, or get to share something new about me. And I feel more a part of the whole. I’ve talked to a several people who work remotely, and they all know exactly what I’m talking about. You’re not fully a part of the group unless you’re taking part in these opportunities.

Two things to note. First, I need to do more of it. Even though I’m in the office each day 95% of the time, I usually don’t go out for lunch because of the expense. I think that needs to change. There’s no substitute for the relationships, and there’s so much that’s discussed during lunch that I miss.

Second, just an observation about the open office arrangement. I’d always had a cubicle in previous companies, and liked the privacy and quiet. Here we all share a room. It’s sometimes quiet, and sometimes quite noisy with conversation, visitors and phone calls. I can tune much of that out (noise cancelling headphones are helpful).

Often, though, I listen. I like to keep tabs on what other people are doing. I sometimes jump into a conversation if I have something to contribute, or if I want to know more about what’s being discussed. Oftentimes, quick conversations like this take the place of formal meetings, and  can be very effective in addressing issues or problems on the spot, and in a cross-discipline way.

Although my individual productivity may suffer a bit, the group/company as a whole is benefited. I’d highly recommend the open office arrangement for the way it builds relationships and enhances synergy within a development group.

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