Go with a smile!

Saturday, June 11, 2016


What is it like to work at my workplace? Well, it's a little hard to talk, without naming my city. Some of you can guess it, and I'll only say it's near to Mexico.

For the second full time job in a row, my office is on the top floor of a converted warehouse. As a programmer, I have one big monitor. We have an open office, like most tech firms. But we generally try to keep quiet and let people think. That's quite important. I don't know how I managed to put up with a noisy environment. I'm doing stuff that's a little more mathematical than the rest, so sometimes I just go up to the roof, and I see the city skyline, and it's a great place. Sometimes I go walking around downtown to think, and it's a relief for me. I'm lucky to be in a city which has a big enough downtown, and it's not crazy crowded like Singapore. In fact, I hardly ever get caught in any traffic jams around here, which is quite refreshing.

In fact I was already pretty lucky where Singapore is concerned. I actually had an office where I had a desk and a cubicle. It was a nice, comfy place that I wasn't ever going to give up for nothing.

What I don't like about my workplace is the lack of dining options. True, my warehouse in Singapore (in the place I called the “factory”) was also a little far from other dining places, but we could hop into a car and drive out for 3 km and be at a hawker center, and it was great. For me, if I were to drive out for 3km, the best I could hope for was a good taco shop, and we have good tacos, but it's not Singapore food.

So when I saw these pictures – yes, it's nice to be in a bright place with funky décor and plenty of fun toys. But I'm a person who prefers a more spartan working environment. Maybe it's because I spent my formative years in Snowy Hill, a university in the middle of nowhere. The offices that are shown in those pictures look nice, but I don't want to work in a bright and gaudy place that's full of distractions, but very little living space, and being surrounded by Kool Aid drinkers. And I suspect that if this were a place in downtown San Francisco which has this, it would be pretty similar. I prefer a place which is quiet and spacious. I don't want a place cluttered with toys. I just want some place with a nice view, and then I have time and space to myself to think. Some office in some science park would be pretty OK for me.

My bosses are also the founders, so they retain the founder's original vision. Vision is something that's pretty hard to communicate, as anybody who's ever read an engineering paper would understand. It's easy to talk about the pieces of the vision, but the most important part of the vision is understand how and why the parts fit. It's a good thing that both of them were coders, so in a way I'm just taking over the job they used to do for themselves when they were starting out. Now our boss has to deal with the business side of things, and his partner is my boss in the coding.

I sometimes wish I had a little more autonomy when designing my things, but as opposed to my previous job, which involved analytics and consultation, I have a better sense that what I do is of value. Obviously it is of value. Other people design, I execute their design. We are developers, and anything that is produced has to pass through our hands. We have a quality assurance team, and we have good processes. But ultimately, a lot has to do with our skill in software design and implementation. Not going to disrespect the people on the business and the product design side, but ultimately we are the guys who are sitting behind the wheel.


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