Moving to a New Office After Lockdown

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a horrific year for everyone on the planet. Coronavirus has come out of the blue and turned everyone’s plans, and for a lot of people their health, upside down. For me personally, at the end of 2019 things were going great. My business was very stable, and home life was great. As we entered into 2020, in January, I ran a successful workshop at NDC Security in Norway and then presented at NDC London. In February I also did a great talk a DDD North, a free community-run conference. That was the last time I was in a room with a lot of people doing what I love doing, public speaking and teaching.

As we entered into March, it was clear that Coronavirus and Covid-19 were not going to go away anytime soon. Countries around the world started entering into lockdown, and it was only a matter of time before the UK did. On Monday 23rd March 2020, after a televised address to the nation from our prime minister Boris Johnson, we entered into full lockdown. All social interactions had to stop, the schools were closed, and everyone had to work at home if they could. You could only leave your house to buy food, get some exercise or for medical reasons. No one had any idea how long the lockdown would last.

My old office in Cromford, Derbyshire.
My old office in Cromford, Derbyshire.

Like a lot of people, me and my wife had to juggle work along with home-schooling two children, which I can honestly say is one of the hardest things we have ever had to do. My son has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. Shortly afterwards with autism; so learning how to teach him was challenging as well as teaching my daughter and fitting in our own work. As lockdown and the virus took its grip on the UK, I had to stop going to my office, which was a short train journey away (I don’t drive). I didn’t go there for six weeks, which means I didn’t have access to my recording setup for courses. I had just signed a new contract to make a new Pluralsight course just before lockdown, so I spent my time scripting the course and building slides. After six weeks of lockdown, I started going back to my office only once a week on a Wednesday to record sections of my course that I had prepared.

My new office in Belper.
My new office in Belper.

From then on I had only been visiting the office once per week while the kids are still off school as it wouldn’t have been fair to go there and leave the kids at home with my wife, who was also trying to work. This got me thinking about whether it would be a good idea to relocate my office from where it was (in a place called Cromford) to the town I live in called Belper in Derbyshire, which is about 10 miles. By relocating the office to be walking distance from the house, I would be able to go more in the event of another lockdown. Another lockdown is something we can’t rule out over the winter period. After lots of searching and viewing offices, I finally found the perfect office space that had just come available. After lots of paperwork, I signed the contract and on the week commencing 24th August, I got the keys, painted the office, hired a removal company and moved in.

I absolutely loved my old office space in Cromford. In the two years I was there, I achieved a lot and grew my business. I was quite sad to let the place go. Still, I also really love this new office space, so while it is a bitter-sweet experience, I think I have made the right decision going forward. Being able to walk to the office is also very handy for the school routine as I can drop my son off at school and then just walk to work. Personally, I think 2021 is going to be severely restricted with travel for conferences etc., so at the moment, relocating my office to be more local feels like a good move. I have already had people ask, ‘Why don’t you just work from home?’ This is a good question; the answer is that I hate working from home. I like the routine of going out to work. Home is for living, the office is for working, and I like that distinction. This week the kids return to school, so I can return to a normal working routine, but if things get difficult again in the winter I feel better that everything I need is a short walking distance away. A good thing with this office is I can walk here, access the building and stay in my office all day and not see another living soul, which is great for social distancing. I can see myself being in this office for many years to come.

Life at a Start-up : Changing Job

I have had quite a diverse career working across different industries from computer games through to financial services and healthcare. I have spent the past 2 years working for Boots, a large UK healthcare retailer, as a software development manager. I enjoyed working at Boots and had a good team, but my role at Boots started taking me further away from software development.  This was starting to concern me, especially as I started to write courses for Pluralsight. Writing for Pluralsight didn’t just happen overnight. It was a lengthy audition procedure but once I was in and had released a few courses, I realized that this was going to be something big for me. Being in a position where I was moving away from daily coding was now clearly going to be an issue for me, so something had to change.

Buying Butler - Buying. Made Better.
Buying Butler – Buying. Made Better.

About the time I started working for Boots I was introduced to 2 founders (Steve Weston, and Graham Blaney) of a new start-up called Buying Butler. Steve and Graham had been trying to get me to join them for a while but the timing wasn’t quite right for me as working for a small start-up can be a risk, especially when you have a mortgage and 2 kids, but as I built up my course catalog with Pluralsight and Buying Butler got some decent funding, I decided to take the plunge and go and work for them. At the time of writing this post I have been officially working for them for a week.

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