I had a private office for some time at university. Most students were offered a desk in a shared office, but due to the smouldering turf wars at the institute it was decided that I should work in an unused assistant professor office. I was a placeholder, to make sure no other research group could claim the space. I didn’t care too much about office politics, but I quickly grew fond of my very own work space. I had a large old desk with drawers and a spacious filing cabinet. When I closed the door, there was nothing but a slight hum from my workstation. Peace and quiet, only interrupted by the occasional faint sound of footsteps down the hall.
I did like the company of my colleagues. I bought a small Kenwood espresso machine and some cups, which quickly made my office a popular location for occasional coffee breaks. A bit of office gossip was a welcome distraction after hours of staring at the same formulas, waiting for an elusive epiphany.
Of course all that abruptly changed once the new assistant professor arrived. I had to remove the espresso machine. Workers carried out the old desk and filing cabinet, painted the walls, and brought a new desk for the new owner.
I haven’t had the luxury of my own office ever since. I’ve worked out of shared offices, from home, and from co-working spaces. Working conditions varied wildly; sometimes it was pretty quiet, but sometimes it was impossible to work. Especially at home, after my first kid was born, it slowly became impossible to concentrate.
Around the summer of 2015, my newest app Postico really started to gain traction. My efforts to become an individual software developer were now starting to pay off financially as well. Across all my apps, I had reached around 5000€ of monthly revenue. I decided that was enough to afford a real office for myself, so I started looking for office space.
It turns out that small offices are neither cheap nor readily available. There were plenty of ads for large offices, but almost nothing that was suitable for a solo developer. The offers I got were either windowless or otherwise uninviting; not a place where you’d like to spend your workday. One realtor showed me a small office in a commercial building. There was a shared break room, with the filthiest coffee maker I’ve ever seen. The kitchen sink looked like it belonged in some industrial complex, and in a corner of the room there was a small toilet, separated from the rest of the room with thin dividers. And it wasn’t even cheap!
When my initial search didn’t pan out, I started to look at small apartments — and I quickly found what is now my very own office. It’s 50 square meters, has a nice kitchen and bathroom. It’s right in the center of Linz, in one of its typical old town houses. It has a very high ceiling and large windows. The building has a beautiful facade, and a door made from wrought iron and glass.
For the past few months I have now been working from this office. It’s wonderful. Most of the time, I work completely alone. Occasionally, I do miss the socialising aspect of a shared office, but once I’m “in the zone,” I forget everything else and enjoy the distraction-free work environment. Whenever I’ve had to work in a shared environment, I felt a bit tense. It made me ever so slightly uneasy, when there was someone potentially watching me. But when I’m alone, I can relax. I can dive into my work undistracted. And when I get off-track and end up surfing the web aimlessly, it’s nice to know there’s nobody here to judge me but myself.