“On the internet – no-one knows you’re a dog” from Peter Steiner’s cartoon, as published in The New Yorker is one of our favourite phrases. What it means to us is that we can make games in our spare room and sell them all over the world – and no-one knows we’re sat there in our pyjamas.
To be fair – we did spend quite a bit of time converting the second floor of our terraced house into a cool office where we would enjoy working. We have an orange wall for inspiration and a metal plaque on the door that says Centrifuge Ltd – so that we have the psychological barrier between home and work.
We don’t have much of a commute – but it is two floors up from the breakfast table – so we feel like there is some effort involved in getting to work.
It’s a bit of a pain when the doorbell rings and we have to hare down the stairs quickly – only to find the postman has a package for next door but they’re not in so could we take it for them. I think Nathan feels bad always being in when the postman calls – he’s even got a t-shirt that says “Yes – I am working when I’m at Home” to wear when we’re expecting a parcel.
Another downside to home working is that relatives and friends think that if you’re at home then you’re free to come out for lunch, tea, shopping or any random appointment they have and would like company. They quite happily ring up any time of the day – expecting to be able to chat at length about the new Wetherspoon’s menu or to let us know that M&S have the “2 Dine in for £10” offer on again. It is quite hard to say “I’m really sorry I am in the middle of something without upsetting them.”
Luckily we both get on very well, even when together all the time. It is quite calm in the office most of the time! However, we do miss seeing other people and bouncing ideas off someone from outside of the company. We need to find ways to network with others. There used to be a monthly Stoke GameDev Get–Together at a local Japanese restaurant – but sadly everyone seems to have moved away or drifted off now. Maybe we need to set something up ourselves and try to get a group of like-minded people who also work at home and crave intelligent company!
Then, there is the problem of car alarms and other distractions. Being in a residential area whilst working can mean that there’s always something to distract you. Our area seems particularly bad for random car alarms going off. Even worse, last week there was a brief (thankfully!) power cut – but when it came back on several house alarms started wailing and did NOT shut up! If the occupants were at work then I guess there was no-one to turn them off or reset them. It was very difficult to tune them out while trying to concentrate.
Home working does have it pros too though! When we wake up and put on the local news and hear about the traffic accidents, long delays and torrential rain – we can smile and grab a few extra minutes in bed before popping upstairs to begin our day. Not having a big commute saves us time, money and sanity. Imagine I used to travel to Birmingham everyday – which involved a 30 minute drive to the station, a 40 minute train ride and a 15 minute bus journey – before I could even start work! Then the same back at night. It was four hours of travelling every day!
Now, I am fresh and awake when I get to my desk. Also, if I have any ideas or there’s any server crisis for Nathan to deal with – we don’t have to go far to get it sorted.
Also, think of the overheads! As a very new company starting out we only have our own funds to keep us going until the games we make start making money. So, we save a fortune by NOT having an office with rent or heating or power or upkeep. We can keep costs to a minimum while we make our fortune. Of course, as we get bigger and take on staff then we’ll need to fins somewhere bigger to suit us, but until then we can concentrate on the games and make them the best we can…