Just enough to comfortably focus on producing great work

As of June 1st, 2018 — Tom Creighton and I are co-occupants of a space we call Practical.studio.

We’ve known each other through the Toronto design and tech trades for many years. We’ve spoken on panels together and even worked at the same company for a bit.

Through a coffee conversation earlier this year, we realized we were at a similar stage of needs in our careers:

  • We had both left senior roles in large tech companies,
  • We weren’t in a hurry to find another role that required commuting,
  • We wanted to contribute to our local UX communities,
  • We really wanted to find a place to focus on our own projects.

We found a space, one just right enough, in the heart of downtown Hamilton, Ontario. We leased it for a one year trial. A trial for how we might help one another do better work; a trial for how large of an impact we could make while confining ourselves to a small space…

A trial for semi-remote work

While continuing to work from each of our homes was an easy and free option, I had some post-sabbatical realizations over the past 6 months that Tom nodded in agreement with:

  1. Finding separation between personal and professional life is equally important and challenging. When your workspace is embedded in your living space, household or family tasks can scream for your attention.
  2. The constant presence of peers creates a pressure to perform, and also allows for accidental creative magic.
  3. Surrounding yourself with culture (and coffee) evokes an energy that can be tough to find at home in context of your work.
  4. Privacy can yield great comfort. Having an office with a door you can close and open when you wish, and intentionally choosing who shares it with you, is a comfort multiplier far greater than just headphones.
  5. An office makes things official. You can give it a name. It has an address you’re comfortable sharing. People can visit it. It unlocks a bit of pride. You work somewhere. You work there.

When our lease goes up for renewal a year from now, we’ll sit down and see what worked and didn’t. We’ll decide if our v1 of Practical.studio still makes sense, or if we should invest in a larger version/space that invites more people to comfortably focus on producing great work.

We’re excited for the next steps in our careers to come to life in a small space above a coffeeshop in a city yet to be recognized for its potential in creative technology :)