Open Office Life August 09, 2015

This summer I have been working in an open office environment on the operations team at Onshape. It has been an awesome experience and I have been learning a ton. This has been my first experience working as a software engineer in an office and I have definitely grown and learned a lot. One thing that has impacted me the most at this internship has been the open office space.

I have always been a person who liked to get time to myself and focus, an introvert, I need time to recharge and be alone. Working in an open office makes this hard. Even if I put headphones on and try to focus people can still interrupt or distract me by talking within earshot. Perhaps this problem could be solved with noise cancelling headphones but I don’t think I should have to buy $100 headphones to be able to work in peace. Despite the distraction I see a lot of value in the open office. It makes it super easy to get immediate feedback, fix problems before they happen and quickly debug code. It also exposes me to a lot of information I would not get by working on my tasks alone or with my mentor. This is extremely valuable for learning but makes focused working hard.

Overhearing a conversation and becoming interested in the topic is an everyday occurrence. I feel like I need to absorb every conversation I can whether it’s the discussion on configuring NGINX or a conversation of Ansible vs Puppet, I want to learn all I can. This ‘learning’ comes at the expense of my productivity though. As I get distracted and leave the zone. You then have to get back into the zone which takes time and energy.

By the end of the day I am exhausted and make it home feeling tired. I then make dinner and recuperate for a while and by 8 I am back to myself and can happily start chugging away at work again. This time without people to distract me or wear me out. I often enjoy these moments the most.

I believe a method that would work well for me would be a work day around 9-3. Leave work, take a little reprieve and then work into the night. Eating dinner when I am hungry or need a break. I am interested how a schedule like this would work for me as I love the programming, problem solving and collaboration building awesome projects, I just find it hard to work for such a long time with people interaction and no reprieve. Perhaps even a place at work to get away from my desk for a little and work without distraction would help.

I am interested in increasing my productivity and energy. What do you think it takes for you to work most efficiently? Do you have a similar routine to what I proposed or do you use any other methods?