Posts Tagged ‘commuting’

Here, There, and Anywhere (part 1)

Technology is an amazing thing… throughout the years it has made our lives “better”.  I double quote the “better” because it is a very personal thing, where better might mean more free time, more luxury, more information, and in my case better means more open sky.

This year my wife and I decided to turn our plans for the future into our plans for the day.  We sold our house in Calgary, a city of over a million people, and headed to the open prairies of Saskatchewan.  While in a very small town right now, our final destination will be 6 acres of country side living about 10 minute drive from Yorkton, Saskatchewan.  As we meticulously plan out our new acreage home to be built next year, I think about how our ‘retirement dreams’ is a lifestyle we can enjoy in our younger years and provide to our children, all thanks to Technology.

A few years ago I decided to leave the full-time employment world and get back into contracting, seeing how much of that I could do working from home… well it can be a bit too quiet.  Although you spend a lot of time with the headphones on while writing software, there is a huge aspect of the work that is collaborative and social.  When I started a contract with NeoStream Technologies in Calgary, I was back to working out of an office (planned to be part time, but became full time).  Well when it comes to fun places to work, NeoStream certainly ranks at the top, and I say fun in a broad sense of what I consider fun… great people, bleeding edge tech, intriguing challenges, and a very social approach to business.

So with the first contract renewal and the approaching sale of our home, the realization that I would miss the in person interaction that working in an office affords.  Enter ‘Microsoft Lync’… the communication system NeoStream had recently incorporated for phone and messaging… add a few web cams, and viola, ‘Virtual Baydon’ was born.  Eight hours a day, five days a week, with two way video and voice, I can see and be seen by all the team members as if I was still sitting at my desk.  A camera was added to the product room, so conversations during meetings are engaging and interactive, and with desktop sharing of our onscreen planning board, everyone and everything is visible to all.

A few things were still missing, mainly due to the locations of certain events such as the morning huddle (an all staff standup meeting where we hear daily updates and announce our top tasks for the day), and our product sprint meetings.  These are in areas not covered by a camera, so recently NeoStream added a large screen TV and camera to the open area for morning huddles, allowing anyone to join in, including people working offsite or from home.  We even recently started having people working in other parts of the office join into the ‘Virtual Baydon’ session, so that they could contribute to conversations going on in the bull pen while continuing their work at their own desks.

I will delve into more details next time on both the work and home sides of things, but for now I must say, I didn’t expect working remotely to go so well.  Apart from not being able to go for coffee, not much is different… but I am definitely enjoying not having the commute.