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Our lease is up on our US-based office-space in July, so it's back on my radar to evaluate our office-space situation.

Two of our partners rather like the idea of leasing a house rather than standard office-space.

We have 4 partners and one employee.

I'm against the idea at this moment in time.

Pros, as I see them

  • Easier to get a good location (minimize commutes)
  • All partners/employees have dogs. Easier to work longer hours without dog-duties pulling people back home
  • More comfortable bathroom situation
  • Residential Internet Rate
  • Control of the thermostat
  • Clients don't come to our office, so this would not change our image
  • The additional comfort-level should facilitate a significantly higher-percentage of time "in the zone" for programmers and artists.

Cons, as I see them

  • Additional bills to pay (house-cleaning, yard, util, gas, electric)
  • Additional time-overhead in dealing with bills (house-cleaning, yard, util, gas, electric)
  • Additional overhead required to deal with issues that maintenance would have dealt with in a standard office-space
  • Residential neighbors to contend with

The equation starts to look a little nasty when factoring in potential time-overhead, especially on issues that a maintenance crew would deal with at a standard office complex.

Can this be a good thing for a software development shop?

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And you'd have to look into local zoning by-laws to make sure it's even legal to do this. Also, do you know for sure that just being in a house ensures "residential internet rates"? –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Mar 19 '12 at 17:06
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It's legal in a few decent areas so long as we don't block the roads or make a lot of racket. Regarding Internet, it's a gray area. I'd expect this is the case in many metro areas (for both issues) –  Frankston Ralphington III Mar 19 '12 at 17:07
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There was someone who did this in a neighborhood I used to live in. They made the neighbors mad which resulted in the zoning board being called and them being fined and evicted. On the other side, I used to run a decent sized eBay operation (fishing tackle) from my house and nobody ever complained. –  jfrankcarr Mar 19 '12 at 17:33
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Note that residential Internet rate comes along with residential Internet service, and running a business with it may violate your terms of service (check them). A business-rate connection is likely to be better supported and have better reliability. –  David Thornley Mar 19 '12 at 18:28
    
'B' office space is going to be cheaper and less hassle than renting a house. Who gets to mow the lawn? –  Jim In Texas Mar 19 '12 at 19:08
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migrated from programmers.stackexchange.com Mar 19 '12 at 20:49

This question came from our site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development.

1 Answer

I've known shops that did this successfully. It's a common model in neighborhoods going through gentrification.

The overhead of dealing with bills won't be a lot, and you can pay someone to mow the lawn. The main issue you'd have is if you were bad neighbors due to coming and going late at night, or being loud, which doesn't sound like an issue. Though you may want to check the rules for the number of dogs allowed in one residence.

The main drawback will be in what it does to the atmosphere. It'll make things more casual, which may be good, but it may also lead to things getting too casual. What level of professionalism you need in your environment is something only you can judge.

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