So I’ve now been at my new job for about 2 months, and there’s a major contrast between my last job and this job.
We’ll start with the negatives because there aren’t many. I’m a remote worker at a company that does most of its collaboration and communication in person, so I’ve had to work hard at staying in touch with the people at the office. It helps that I go down there at least once a month to touch base, and I’m getting to know the folks (and they me) so remote communication is more effective. Also, without anyone checking in with me every day it takes more discipline to buckle down on days when my motivator unit is broken. And I’m currently the only person on my ‘team’ which makes it a little hard to get traction. And I miss all my ex-coworkers.
Now, the positives. Unlike the company I came from, there is no drama here. Of course, it’s replaced by its own special type of politics, of a grown-up type I’m somewhat unaccustomed to. Fortunately I seem to be negotiating these new waters fairly well, and the end result of this environment is that my job is much, much less stressful. Being the only remote worker also means that I’m almost never interrupted for anything, and my velocity when I’m writing code or reading documentation is generally quite high. And working somewhere that brainstorming is a valued activity has given me the opportunity to discover that in fact I’m good at thinking up ideas, when I have some time to do so.
All in all, the positives far outweigh the negatives, and I feel like I’m learning, contributing, and working in a positive environment. It’s still hard to get out of the habit of feeling horribly guilty if I’m out of contact for a bit, but I’m slowly becoming more relaxed and just enjoying the work I’m doing. It seemed very odd to me, coming from a place of such urgency to a place that seems so much more laid back, but the folks at AMI have the space to think up cool stuff – without that space it’s so much harder to let the magic happen.
I know that small startups have less space to allow their employees to stop and think and explore, but I wonder if sometimes the need to rush creates more need to rush, and squelches the innovative ideas best suited to an agile, entreprenurial company. I was reminded of this several times when working at Socialtext, when I stopped rushing around for a few days and as a result found the solutions to the problems that had been pestering me for weeks.
Companies need to create space for their employees, especially when the employees aren’t good at doing so for themselves. People need to create space for themselves. All of us, all programmers, have found ourselves staring intently at the screen, the zone long past, trying to find the solution to a problem… and then flash on the solution as soon as we step away to feed ourselves and look at the sky. Make space for yourself, and try to help others around you find space for themselves as well.