Coworking, Space Sharing, and Remote Work in Auckland

Hey guys,

Sorry it’s been so long! I’ve genuinely been quite busy in the evenings lately and don’t usually get home before 9pm anymore. I’m gonna try and blog every other day until the end of the month to make up for it :).

So I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people lately which have ended with the other person or people saying something like this:

“Man, I’d love to do what you do! Working and traveling at the same time!”

It is pretty cool! I am really lucky to have a job which lets me do this, and I don’t forget it. It seems a lot of people would enjoy doing the working remotely/traveling thing. But how about them logistics?

1) Coworking spaces

It’s up to you, but there are some definite upsides to working in a shared office space rather than from home. Why be cooped up in an apartment all day? (Also, apartments in downtown Auckland tend to be tiny, so that just makes it worse). So, how do you find a shared office space? The internet, of course!

When I first got here, I spent a lot of time on www.sharedspace.co.nz. You can even look up shared boats on there, who knew? Basically it’s a site where you can find a shared space of some sort, anywhere in New Zealand. Need a short-term space for a pop-up shop? Meeting rooms for two days? Temporary use of a photo studio? This site has you covered. According to my records, I contacted about 8 spaces in the CBD through sharedspace — only 4 got back to me. Guess I need to work on my sales pitch ;). Be prepared to spend some time on this! It’s like finding an apartment to rent– you contact them, wait for a reply, set up a viewing, (then hope you) make a good first impression, etc.

I was lucky in Auckland, because one of the first places I went to see was ColabNZ, and ended up choosing them nearly immediately. The place had a really cool vibe, arrangements were simple, and the pricing was good. Also, location! It’s right on Queen Street and is close to multiple coffeeshops (as well as public transit). Some pictures of the space and my desk (poster in the 2nd last picture courtesy of the L2 team back in Ottawa, because they’re awesome):

IMG_20140211_130835_rt_rs_tn IMG_20140212_191657_rt_rs_tn IMG_20140310_105548_rt_rs_tn IMG_20140303_152224_rt_rs_tn

Things to consider: is internet included in the price? What else is included? Do you have 24/7 access (also, do you even need 24/7 access?)? How crowded is it? Is there a minimum stay? So-called “hot desks” (not enclosed offices) don’t make a lot of profit for coworking spaces, so they often enforce a minimum monthly period. How much notice do you need to give to leave?

2) Shared space

One of the downsides to coworking (one of the downsides to sharing an office space with anybody, really), is the noise. Although it’s possible to wear headphones all day every day, this isn’t ideal. The other people in the coworking space are really, really nice, but there’s always background noise– whether it’s them talking, the radio, or the sound of the ping-pong ball as people play nearby. It’s a good exercise in focus, if nothing else.

The upside to this is that there are always cool people around. In my space specifically, there are a couple of teams trying to get startups off the ground and some even setting up temporary shops/public spaces while they look for larger digs. There’s no shortage of people to bounce ideas off of. Everyone there is already by nature slightly quirky, because they’ve chosen to cowork in a shared space :P.

I am considering not working from a coworking space in Wellington, once I get there, and instead using the total money I’m currently spending on rent + coworking to get a really nice studio apartment and working from there instead. We’ll see. I like having the office environment and a solid line between “work” and “home”, but this (like most of my trip) is an experiment. Who knows, if I can get a nice apartment with a good “office” workspace area, it might accomplish the same thing. On the other hand, I feel less lonely during the day with other people around :). I’ll be pursuing both angles, and seeing what will work out the best.

3) Remote work

Here’s the big one. Working remotely. Having worked in an office with a close-knit team in the same room for most of the past two years, this has taken a lot of getting used to, and again, it’s very mixed. While my job duties were already fairly independent, it’s the little things I miss: being able to just roll over in my chair and look over someone’s shoulder to work through a problem together, declaring a spontaneous room-wide beer-o-clock and just hanging out for 15 mins over a drink, the off-topic out-loud tangents.

And timezones! I wanted to book this Friday off, and had to actually book Thursday off (which is Friday here)– ended up confusing more than just myself. Trying to find a time to do standup meetings was difficult enough as it was, and then Canadian Daylight Savings kicked in and made the standup one hour earlier for me. New Zealand Daylight Savings ends at the beginning of April, putting me back another hour (I started out 18 hours ahead of Ottawa, then 17 after EDT, then it will be 16 after NZDT ends). Starting my day at the end of the Eastern Canadian work day makes me feel 5-8 hours behind on everything (this will get better once we have more people working in different timezones which aren’t EST/EDT).

But at the same time, my productivity has been a lot more constant out here– less interruptions, less distractions, less context switching. More periods of intense focus, more days where I feel like I really accomplished a lot. It’s also really given me more appreciation for the rest of my team. Absence, etc. Despite the fact that they’re currently very early for me, I really look forward to the weekly standups where I can see everyone on camera and catch up on the week :). I also now have more exposure to the night crew which works predominantly from Ottawa– this is really cool. My hours tend to end around 12-1am EDT, so my team now has more coverage into the evenings, which we didn’t consistently have before. We also now have coverage on Sundays (my Mondays). These are all definite upsides.

There you have it– some of my preliminary thoughts on the logistics and factors around coworking, sharing spaces, and working remotely. These are early days yet. We’ll see how I feel about this again two months from now :P.

Standby for more posts this week!

Cheers,

Tamara

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