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Spoiltchild Design

Fag* break solutions

Since the baby came along a few months ago myself and the guys have been operating a virtual office. Running in bootstrap mode I just cant justify the expense of an office yet. Everyone operates within a 20 minute walk so there is no problem meeting up when needed. Everyone also has kids so it mostly suits. However this afternoon I had to give our setup some more thought.

A few years ago I used to work in a web development company called Spin Solutions. I was the only designer in a large team of developers and I learnt lots from a very tight and talented team. They in turn learnt how to poke the designer to show them something pretty for the day. What ever else about the company it had one of the best teams I have ever worked in. Many of them have gone on to bigger and better things and you would recognise their names if I said them.
I never smoked, but I always accompanied the lads on a cigarette break outside. I could say it was because of health and safety and I was getting the minimum recommended time away from staring at a screen, I could also say I was just out there dodging work but to be honest it was where all the good stuff happened. It was where everyone relaxed their brains a bit, chatted about what ever problem they were having with code or tech. They could mention some seemingly little problem that was too trivial to organise a meeting about yet it was taking many man hours trying to solve. Almost guaranteed the problem would be solved in that 5 minute break with the collective brainstorming of the group.
That is something we are missing with our current set up and I really noticed it this evening. We were gathered around a demo of Toddle (looks sweet :) ) and only because we were there and chatting Tomasz mentioned a problem he was having with a particular bug. Straight away the solution came from the group. We designers and developers can get really involved in the minute details. Meeting like that enabled us to see the forest from the trees and I would say saved about two days of work of Tomasz trying to solve it on his own.

Now I am not sure if a cost saving like that would justify the cost of getting an office just yet but it is one more mark for the plus column and something to consider if you are thinking of setting up.

.* Fag is slang for Cigarette around these parts.

  1. Have you a local coffee shop that would serve the same purpose a couple of times a week?

    (and I remember Spin – but not sure why!)


    keith bohanna    Nov 22, 06:26 AM    #
  2. If you’re getting to the stage where you (half) need an office, I know that Dundalk RDC now have an outpost in Drogheda at Millmount. It could be handy even for the use of the meeting rooms …

    Paul Browne - TIPE    Nov 22, 09:59 AM    #
  3. Alan, I wonder what kind of ‘fantasy IT’ solution do you think it would take to solve this problem? That is, if money was no barrier.

    Could ‘the perfect’ IM, VoIP, Teleconferencing solution get around it?

    Did you watch Scoble’s video about Cisco’s new HD Teleconferencing solution? Would you imagine such a setup could help? Could a next generation Second Life ‘holodeck’ do the job?

    Or is this simply something that requires physical presence for serendipity to kick in?

    James Corbett    Nov 22, 01:43 PM    #
  4. I think Cisco’s solution might be the closest however it would need to be on all day and who wants a camera on them while they are working.
    I think it is a personal interaction thing. Its also a break from the computer thing so more technology might not be the answer.A shared room might also be cheaper :)

    Alan    Nov 22, 02:13 PM    #
  5. I find IM solves this for me. For some reason IM’ing someone is simplier and less hassle than phoning so it can be used for one line conversations and back and forth.

    Des Field Corbett    Nov 22, 04:28 PM    #
  6. Timetabling a coffee shop break would really ruin the flow I reckon. It’d just become an excuse.
    Why are all the “great thoughts” during the smoke break? Surely the team leader should notice this as put something in place so you can get the team-work you desire without the need for work-dodging.

    I guess the team would be less understanding if someone popped away from their desk in order to indulge their addiction to heroin or BBW porn. Smokers get a lot of breaks…

    mj    Nov 26, 06:01 PM    #