Remote office on hold

Due to some unforeseen difficulties, the move to a remote office has been postponed, at least for the immediate future. We are committed to the current office space for at least six months.

After that, all bets are off. I still want to move to working remotely at least 80% of the time, but in order to do that, we need to start generating more revenue.

2013 was a good year for us, we were about 8% above revenue from 2012. But, 2014 is not starting out with a bang, it’s starting out with more of a painful cry.

But, I’m not one to thrown in the towel, so we trudge on, and build on what we hope will be a very successful future.

Onward and upward. I do plan on working from home more often, however. The office reno that I was planning on doing last summer will hopefully happen this summer. I have revised a bit though, as I think I want to add a toilet and shower space to the office. We’ll see if that all comes to fruition.

Out for now.

Moving from an office environment to a virtual company

For a long time, I’ve wanted to work “location independent.” I didn’t want to be tied to going into an office everyday.  It seems unproductive to me to spend a bunch of time, even if it is a short amount of time, commuting into an office, then answering emails and phone calls, then reversing that commute to go back home at the end of the day.

Now, that I am the president of two different companies, and my current lease is coming to a close, I am faced with the decision of whether to lease for another year, or move my companies to being 100% virtual.  It’s an interesting question.

Our website is not hosted in the office.  We have a few things that we host internally, but we could move them to being hosted somewhere else.

We have a few things that would have to be run SOMEWHERE.

Leasing, the option that we used for the first year, is $12,000 a year.  Plus the other regular expenses of the business.

Not leasing space would mean that we would have that money to spend elsewhere.  We’d need to run a couple servers somewhere.  Nothing major.

The phone system is already hosted externally.  I can plug the phone in anywhere and get dial tone.

I feel like this is the best way to move my companies forward. We reduce costs while not reducing our manpower, and not reducing our ability to serve our customers.

It’s  a win win.

The Mobile Landscape

I use a mobile phone, for both home and work.  I use the phone for many things.  I use it for phone calls.  I use it for email (both work and home).  I use it to communicate with my family and friends via texting.  I also use it for navigation, finding places I have to go.  I get lost frequently, and having a GPS built into the phone is indispensable to me.

I’ve tried the three major mobile platforms.  I had an iPhone.  I had a Windows Phone 7 device.  I’ve also had (and still have) an Android device.  Each has it’s benefits and drawbacks.

IPhone

The iPhone has a great app store.  It also has great support, and it is easy to use.  It allows me to have two email accounts and have independent sounds for each account so I know what email account just received an email (pretty indispensable for my needs).  It also allows you to easily use the phone as a music device, synching with ITunes and you can also use the phone to view movies. 

What it doesn’t do well, in my opinion, is navigation.  I haven’t had an iOS6 device, just an older device, but the navigation portion of the phone just isn’t useful enough for my needs to make the phone worthwhile.

The other issue I have, and this is personal preference, is that you are unable to write native applications for the phone unless you are a Mac user.  I’m a Windows guy.  I’m not sure I necessarily want to write iPhone software, but the opportunity is not even available to me because I am a Windows guy.

 

Windows Phone 7

When Windows Phone 7 was first released, I acquired a Samsung Focus so that I could evaluate the platform.  It’s a nice phone.  It’s small, it’s fast, the battery life is pretty good.  It’s easy to set up, and easy to configure email accounts, Twitter accounts, Facebook, etc.  You cannot have two email accounts on the phone which have unique sounds.  So if you have a work email account and a home email account, they both have the same email alert sound.  For someone like myself who runs two companies, plus a side business, plus having a home email address, it’s pretty important for me to be able to easily distinguish WHICH email account just got an email, especially if I have the sound enabled.  It’s not possible with Windows Phone 7.  Windows Phone 8 has just been released, and much to my amazement, this issue (which cannot be unique to me) is not resolved with this new release of the phone software.  I couldn’t believe it.

Also, navigation on the Focus is abysmal.  Turn by turn navigation is not available on the phone without purchasing a secondary application.  I *need* navigation.

 

Android

A long long time ago, I had a Samsung Captivate.  I hated it.  The software was horrible, the applications were horrible, I could hardly make the phone work.  I took it back.

A couple years ago, I acquired a Dell Streak.  It was another Android device.  I *loved* this phone.  *LOVED* .  I used it for quite a while, but the screen broke, and then Dell stopped selling and supporting the device.  So I acquired a Samsung Galaxy Note.  With it’s 5.4” screen, it’s a behemoth of a device.  It’s a phablet. It does everything that Android can do, and it does it wonderfully.  It charges using a standard mini-USB plug, and it has Google integration and navigation and everything else necessary.

Best part about the phone,  is the navigation and the syncing with Google, which I use heavily for email.  I love the size of the phone, although most will hate it as too big.  Definitely check it out at your local retailer.

The Home Office Plan

My plan for my home office is currently underway.  Here’s my initial thoughts:

 

  • Taking all the current paneling that is currently covering the walls.
  • Insulate,  with a vapor barrier
  • Two layers of 5/8” drywall (for sound proofing the room a bit, when I work from home, I make and receive lots of phone calls.  Doesn’t need to be completely soundproof, but I think the two layers of 5/8” drywall, along with the insulation will help with the sound acoustics in the room.
  • A new window.  It currently has one window, which is single pane.  I’d like to replace it with at least a double pane window like the others in my house.
  • Raised floor.  Currently the floor is the concrete.  I’d like to put in a bit of a raised floor, possibly bamboo.  Secondary to the rest.
  • A couple additional power outlets, on a separate circuit.  Currently the space has one power outlet.
  • Different lighting.  Currently has a single bulb.  I’m thinking pot lights possibly.  I don’t usually have the lights on , but in the winter months it might be useful to have better lighting.
  • Custom desk.  I’d like to build a custom desk that would hold my desktop and two monitors, my printer, my phone and working space.  Two monitors are fairly essential and I have them, just don’t have the space for them right now.
  • Network wiring. I’d like to put network drops in and put my 24 port switch in my garage.  It’s quite noisy.  In the garage the noise wouldn’t be an issue.

Yes, I’ve thought about this plan quite a bit.  I’ve never done remodeling of any sort, so this is quite a project.  We’ll see what happens.