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Renovations aren't just to make walls pretty

Sometimes, there is a need for change for things to work a bit better. Make things smoother. Facilitate communication. You know, any sort of business-like excuse to shift things and people around.

While a relatively young company, Paper Dragons has undertaken the challenge of renovation, and it's taken a fair bit longer than we planned, and it's still ongoing.

Yes, there was more work involved than painting the walls in multiple different colours and moving a bit of furniture. A lot more than you'd think.

However, I'm not going to talk about what happened for the renovation, nor show off our new swanky working environment in this post. That's for the future, when it's completed.

Instead, I want to discuss why we did it in the first place.

When we originally planned out the house in our move to Swansea in December 2020, we thought that the front living space could be a photo studio and work room, while I would be sequestered away in the absurdly small box room upstairs to handle the day job, working from home. For six months, I worked from that tiny office, which was less than six feet wide by less than six feet long, and it kinda worked.

At the half-year mark, the summer revealed a problem: The room gets hot. It also doesn't help when you have a large biological space heater in an office chair, alongside three computers, two monitors, a fancy custom-sized standing desk, and a door that stayed closed so that the cats wouldn't come in and destroy things.

Along with that unpleasantness, there was the issue of collaborating with Emma on photos and other work. She could share an image with me over a messaging app, but there was a breakdown in communication over text that felt odd when it took place within a floor of each other.

There was also a disconnect in terms of availability, as there was no guarantee that the other person was able to read the request, or worse, that we would disturb them mid-flow.

We could do a lot better.

Cue the renovation work on the studio to turn it into a better office space for the two of us, to make communication be face-to-face or at least yelled across the room. The inadequacies of text-only business communications are not an issue, as we can be more expressive verbally than anything that just uses words can provide.

There's no response time lag (aside from thinking time), and little fear of a mid-flow distrubance, as we can easily see if the other is actively performing a task or they could feasibly be asked a question.

It also helps in that I can now answer the door within seconds instead of a full minute, and I can easily mind the pets if they get a little too noisy during the day.

While I have worked from home for roughly a decade so far, this simple maneuver certainly reminds me of the usefulness of closer human connection and office-based communications.

It doesn't quite have me yearning for a cubicle or a seat in an open-plan callcentre after my previous experience in those environments, but it does at least underscore the need to connect with people.

Even if it consists of chucking a paper ball at someone else's head to get their attention.


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