Thursday, May 03, 2007

Where can I find a good yurt?

Last Friday was move day -- my first at the new shop. If you are in computational biology in industry, expect to move.

Of course, a lot of folks move. Companies grow (yea!) and shrink (boo!) and relocated (sometimes yea!, sometimes boo!). I felt like I moved a lot at the old shop, but in reality many others moved more often.

However, it is easy to recognize that a computational position involves the least attachment to place. Find me WiFi and I can be pretty near top effectiveness. Today I discovered a machine screw in a tire of one of our cars -- so a trip to the repair shop. But they have WiFi! -- so waiting could be (and was) productive time. Need to deal with a child care gap -- WiFi! Doctor's appointments splitting up your day? -- find a cafe and connect!

But the downside is that your office is (rightly) seen as easily movable. The best place to park is near your laboratory collaborators, but when push comes to shove, the facilities folks will move you. Office space is cheap and more widely available; lab space is dear & very restricted (in Cambridge any chemistry labs can't be above a certain floor). Other office-only departments are similarly afflicted -- legal, finance, etc..

So one learns to expect to be a nomad. This move was luckily only a few floors, plus between short time & discipline I actually haven't accumulated much. It's also for a very short stay -- before long, more moves for bigger quarters and subsequent reshufflings of the stay-behinds. Who knows which category I'll be in. But you can't say it enough: moving because the company is growing far beats moving because the company is shrinking.

4 comments:

Hsien Lei said...

Hmmm. I almost wonder if you should be allowed to spend some of your time working from home and just have a shared office when you do need to be there. Sure would solve a lot of people's problems if they could and were allowed to work remotely at least part of the time. (Obviously I'm speaking from personal experience!)

Pedro Beltrão said...

I quite like it that I can feel productive almost anywhere. I still need to carry around my own laptop all the time for the code and a lot of locally stored data but I can sit almost anywhere and start. I even have some data and scripts on remote computers so it would even be possible to start working on a clean pc (and a VPN client). The downsides are that it is harder to disconnect from work and like you say computer people are hardly the top priority when discussing lab space.

rdf said...

Just wondering if "not accumated much" was in relative or absolute terms

I seem to remember a large pile outside your office on 'FDA cleaning day' (comparable to the size of the pile outside of mine)

Keith Robison said...

Not accumulated much was actually in absolute terms -- I was able to pack everything in a single file box except my docking station and computer and a large umbrella. With the docking station on the box and my computer in my laptop bag, I was able to get almost everything (except the morning breakfast) in one trip -- using the umbrella to work the elevator buttons!

My office at 640 was huge, and as RDF remembers it was crammed. When the brass said it needed to be cleared to give the right impression to the FDA folks who might pass through, about a dozen unguarded recycling containers migrated to my office -- and went through several daily cycles of filling and being emptied by the cleaning crew. I remember R's laugh at the start of the exercise -- with a quick explainer that it was not schadenfreude but closer to a foreshadowing of his future.