January 6, 2017 • Peter Sanchez
It’s a sad day for (some of) us at team Netlandish. The time has come for us to go fully remote. While the decision is smart for many reasons, it’s a hard pill to swallow because we just love our office here in the heart of Downtown LA. We’ve been in the Spring Arts Tower for the last 4.5 years and we’ve loved it. Before we get into why we’re closing our office let me show you a bit about what we’re leaving behind…
The Spring Arts Tower is a gorgeous building located in the heart of the historic core section of Downtown Los Angeles. There are many types of businesses in the building. Creative, tech, video, tattoo shops, chocolate manufacturers, a nightclub, etc. One of the more famous tenants is the The Last Bookstore, a huge bookstore that looks like it’s straight out of a Willy Wonka fantasy world. This video does a pretty good job of describing the building (and it was made by our now former office neighbors)…
When we first moved into the Spring Arts Tower building we were in a different suite than we are leaving now. It was much smaller and just one large room that we setup into a sort of open office area. Really it was a small living room setup, small bar, lunch table, and three workstations. We were here for about a year and a half when our next door neighbors told us they were moving offices to a new building up the street. We had a two month head start on the other tenants and let the building know we wanted it once they moved out. We got it and moved in a couple of months later.
The new office was a corner suite and larger (nearly 3 times) than the old suite. We had 4 separate rooms instead of one large room. Also there was a small break room where we had the bar, fridge, coffee machine, microwave, pin board, etc. We had private offices, a conference room, and a living room. Each room had large windows and views of our corner of DTLA, which is thriving with renovation and tons of new hip bars and restaurants surrounding us. Once a month there is the LA Art Walk and the epicenter of the event is right out front of the building on Spring St. We truly couldn’t ask for a better location to work from for all this time. Here are some pics of the space.
This decision has been a very long time coming. It’s something we’ve kicked around for at least two years. To start I should point out that most of the team already works remote. Day to day only 2, or 3, people would show up to our office to work. And even that was 3 days a week (we’d work from home the other 2.)
I’ve spent a lot of time following how companies like Automattic, Buffer, and Basecamp work. I’ve read Rework, Remote, and a million other blog posts or papers about the productivity, happiness, and quality of life increase that could be attributed to being able to work remotely. We’ve been slowly implementing tips and processes that we’ve picked up from others who are already using a distributed model successfully.
I tried to pull the trigger a couple of times last year. Even going so far as to let the building know and give notice of our intent to leave. I always chickened out and asked them to forget I said anything. I wanted to keep the office. Part of that was ego. I mean, we all loved the office. The views and setup were beautiful, the location, the action… It was just a fun place to be.
Finally, the time spent commuting, the long hours, etc. got the best of us. I would find myself working until traffic died down (which in LA, can be fairly late) just to commute home. Getting home at 8:30pm or later most nights from the office takes a toll. Not to mention we’re saving roughly 40K/year in rent, utilities, parking, and gas costs that were associated with the office. Factor in time lost commuting to an hourly monetary cost and that number goes up quite a bit.
Enough was enough. As of January 1st, 2017 we were completely moved out of the building.
With everyone working remote we will be able wrap up our days at decent times and actually have, you know, lives. That’s the goal anyway.
I will update now and then with the progress we’re making as a fully distributed company. We’ve already implemented some very useful tools into our custom internal back office application, we call it Grinch, to help with the new company layout. Transparency is key and as we progress to more open items internally, and externally, I’ll share the wins and losses along the way.