When I started as OakTree Software’s sole employee, the company was run completely out of a home office, and I worked at my own home using my own computer. As we added new staff members, the ability to work at home was both a practical necessity and a major perk.
Once we began hiring our own sales staff and selling directly (before that all sales had been handled by another distributor), we decided that we would need a dedicated office for sales. Since the office we got was bigger than the sales staff needed at that time, the rest of us were asked if we would like to work from the new office. I remember being at a meeting where the question was raised, and we all sort of looked at each other. Frankly, none of us wanted that office space. We all had been spoiled by years of working at home.
Today I had one of those moments where all the advantages of working from home were once again made apparent. While I was waiting to have a video iChat with a staff member who is currently overseas, I helped one of our module developers in Atlanta with some issues via email. I also had a brief conversation via iChat with another one of our developers who lives in Texas. If we were bound to a centralized office mentality, we would have lost these two incredibly talented developers when they moved out of state. Instead, they carry on their work without missing a beat.
While I was interacting with people around the world, my one-year old son who has just begun walking was wobbling and stumbling his way across the room with the help of his big sister. I would look up from my laptop now and then to smile at how cute they were, and then go back to what I was doing. Suddenly I heard a great cry of disgust from my daughter: “Ugh! Jo Jo just took my hand and used it to wipe his runny nose!” I died laughing as she ran from the room to wash her hand and Jo Jo sat there looking pleased with himself. After I finally regained my composure, I thought to myself how much I would miss if I had to go somewhere else to do my work.
I hesitate to share these stories because I know some of you would love to be able to work from home but can’t. Others of you wouldn’t want to work from home even if you could. Working from home is certainly not without its drawbacks and challenges. But for most of the development staff here at OakTree, available office space has historically been a bit like a game of hot potato: “Here you take it!” “I don’t want it! You take it!”
All humorous anecdotes aside, the fact that most of us gladly work from home means that the vast majority of OakTree’s revenues go directly toward ongoing development and customer service. Because we’re not having to pay huge rents, mortgages, or utility bills, we’re able to make the money you spend go farther and accomplish more with it.
So who wants an office?
“I don’t want it! You take it!”