In an attempt to breath some life back into this blog I’ll be making an effort to post more frequently, and what better place to start, than with my movement to shared office space and my plans for the future.
Since I started my freelance career in mid to late 2013 I’ve been working from home as most freelancers do, but I found myself in a situation where I was spending my entire time sat at home in front of my PC with little to no interaction with other people and no clear definition between my personal life and my work life. As with most developers, the work that I do is something I enjoy and something I’m passionate about, so the line between my own personal life and the work that I do was somewhat blurred, and I don’t plan to stop working on development projects outside of my working hours, but rather to separate and work on some projects that I’ve had in the back of my mind for sometime now.
My first step was to find office space, and for those of you familiar with London, you’ll likely be aware of the sheer cost involved with anything here. Fortunately for me, my friend Frank (pictured right) had recently moved his digital marketing company, Nero Media Group Ltd to shared office space located around the corner from the Bank underground station, in the City of London, the heart of our nations capital.
Frank and I frequently consult with each other when our projects branch into an area that the other is familiar with, meaning that I provide technical consultancy and Frank provides marketing and management consultancy for myself. Our friendship, consultancy work, my need for my own office space and Franks spare desk just made perfect sense and ticked every box, so here I am.
The shared office space is ran by Boardroom 2 Bathtub, with all the amenities and a lovely second floor corner desk overlooking the courtyard of Frederick’s Place, which based on the architecture (and the plaques on the walls) is over 200 years old and is an absolutely wonderful site, in fact, take a look for yourself!
On top of the location and the lovely view (when I think it’s lovely), the people in this office are very friendly, if not a little too fond of social drinking, and I’m pretty sure the vast majorities of industries and walks of life are represented accordingly. That being said, I’ve spent time trying to sniff out other developers but the only one I’ve managed to find a C++ developer, of whom I managed to find simply because there’s a noticeboard that has his name and the fact that he’s a C++ developer.
Hopefully outside of a casual drink or conversation at lunch, I’ll be able to provide some help to the others who share this space, whether it be projects, consultancy or just general suggestions and feedback.
On top of that, there’s also event space that can be rented, which is pretty cool, as one of the things I’m looking into is perhaps breathing some life into the Laravel London meetups as their first since May was at the start of this month (5th August), and if that’s because the original organisers have been busy or they’ve been struggling to find space, it would be pretty cool to be able to help out and chat with some other like minded individuals.
Part of the reason for moving to this office space was to help me transition to a different style of working, allocating my 9 to 5 hours to clients projects and allowing me extra time in the evening or of a weekend, to work on the plethora of personal projects that I have started or planned to start.
For those of you that are curious, my ideal goal is to build up a company that provides large scale bespoke application services as well as our own internal applications, some free systems/services, some premium and some open source software allowing us to contribute to the communities that I helped us get to the place where we are. Right now I provide freelance/contract services under my own personal brand “ollieread”, but my intention is to start migrating work over to the “Ollie’s Lab” (subject to change at a later date, as I don’t like my own name being in it). This is primarily because right now all of my work is through agencies, and while I have no problem with that and the people I work with are very friendly talented individuals, i find that when it comes down to certain projects I’m still somewhat limited as only half the time I’m involved in the front-facing planning process, so suggestions and recommendations are often too late as everything has been decided and agreed upon.
This has unfortunately put me in a position where I’ve been writing PHP for 11 years, 7 of which I’ve been doing professionally, but because the nature of my work (agencies and NDA protected work), I’ve been unable to build a portfolio up, and considering the fact that I focus primarily on backend work, creating a portfolio becomes even harder.
The goal is to find some like minded talented individuals to work on a contract basis with myself, providing the services that I cannot or do not provide, such as design and front-end work, and even some backend developers to help alleviate the load on myself. From hereI can slowly progress through the stages to a point where I can take on and employ staff, building up a portfolio and helping out wherever it’s needed.
I’m doing this progressively as I don’t want to rush straight into it and find myself stuck, and the last thing I want to do is end up spending all of my time with managerial tasks and decisions. If and when we approach the situation where that’s required, I’m more than happy to hire someone to take everything in, formalise and organise it and make the decisions on behalf of the company, as after all, I do this because I enjoy it, not because I want to watch others writing code, but because I want to write code.
A Brave New World
So here I am, in my new office space staring directly at this brave new world at the start of my new journey (which hopefully explains the confused and scared look my face). I hope to post regular updates regarding this subject for those interested, and for those who find themselves in similar situations, it may be of assistance, which in itself makes it all worth it.
Likewise, if you’re a designer, front-end developer or a junior php developer/looking into moving into development, then get in contact as I’m always in need of design/front-end services (client and personal/internal projects), and it’d be nice to split the load with another php developer and perhaps share some of the things I’ve picked up along the way.
Anyway, enjoy the rest of your bank holiday weekend!