I want a garage! Or a proper working environment

Working on JobRely

JobRely team working in HUB Vilnius

I want a garage. One like in the movies about a birth of the great IT business. If there is no garage available/left I would love to have a basement (skladukas – nice Lithuanian word). Sadly I must balance my work routine between home, co-working spaces and cafes. I`ve been working in a lot of different environments. And I still want a garage.

A Garage is a place where you can be surrounded only by your working idea. A Garage is an area where all the external world problems are left outside. Garage is place where you can do shit not giving a single fuck about what your neighbors think. If I need loud DNB music to be energized – I just pump up the volume. Garage is the place where I can invite my friends, colleagues when I feel that I need them. Need them for the work I am doing.

In reality, if you want to work in a garage and you are located in Lithuania you will get really cold. At least on a winter like this. I like warmth so I had to find some alternatives. And I did:

  • tried working in coworking spaces (hubs),
  • tried working from home,
  • tried working from a shared office,
  • tried working from university library (it is better than it sounds like)

From these experience I can sum up: I still want a garage. 

Why I am so demanding person? Well I have three constraints of which two are dominant:

  • Quality of the working environment
  • Price
  • People around.

In Lithuania, from my experience either you must be paying a lot for the office space or you will be thrown into a hall.

Most Hubs here operate in a hall style. Bigger or smaller, but still a hall. While I am nothing against sharing the space with others, I still want to have a working environment which does not requires attention from me. Therefor I think an optimum number of colleagues in a shared space starts from 4 and finishes with 8. Also being a small live group in a huge empty area does not make me feel comfortable (this can be easily solved by the movable walls, but sadly…).

Public libraries are quite close to the hubs just with more rules and less to pay. As I need to be on phone some times – it sucked to get up, go out, make a talk, come back. If I need a laptop while I am talking – I am screwed (so is the battery).

Another option is to rent a cabinet. I am not going to explain the pricing, location, need of furniture, etc. Just take my words – for the startup you don`t want to pay much. You do have more important budget lines (see my previous posts about prioritization). Especially on the early stage. The only big plus is ability to gather all your team into one place. But if they and you have other responsibilities (eg jobs) – it makes no sense to sit alone. If you work together with friends/potential partners (did that) in a rented room – you still have distractions. And again you can`t focus on your work as much as you could be working from your own garage/basement.

Working from home could be the closest I got to working in a garage. I and only I work here. I go out to socialize when I feel need for that. I play music which I want to play… But actually there can get or to many of “I” (even all of us are egocentrics) or we share the house/flat with somebody. And there is no I left after the working hours, on weekends, etc.. I created my own working corner (two of them actually), how ever distractions are still really close. Also it is not good for the relations. When you get angry in a garage – you shout. When you get angry at your home – you still can shout. But be afraid that someone wouldn`t take it as a “shouting at somebody”. It can get really nasty then..;)

Why I am writing this? So far garage in a tropical area with high speed internet fits my needs best. But I hope for a change. Maybe managers (land lords) of the shared office spaces for the new businesses will read this: “If you understand your customer needs you can react. You, the manager, can make your place awesome. And then people like me will be ambassadors for you“. I was sharing my concerns with some of the hub owners, how ever the changes were either cosmetic or not considered needed (still feeling pity about that. Oh and I left with my 800lt/month).

Also I do hope that some (future?) politics/bureaucrats will notice all those young “stupid” people who try to create something on their own. With the right budget some cool and productive spaces could be created. Contrary (in my biased opinion) all the current  “technology centers” and “valleys” are an expensive office spaces. Designed by those who are not working there. Operated by those who don`t care much about the balance between the need of a new technological businesses and their financial income. And this is not an investment. It is “right usage of the funds” (or “įsavinimas” in Lithuanian).

But for the Lithuanian society is it better to have the more strong businesses then a faster investment return? Or isn`t it?

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6 thoughts on “I want a garage! Or a proper working environment

  1. Andrius B. says:

    If hubs in Vilnius are too expensive, try to move to Panevėžys/Šiauliai for 5 days per week (they have hubs too), and the rest days of the week spend in Vilnius: in this way you will avoid distractions from friends who are calling you for a beer and will save some cash on rent !

    How does that sound to you? : )

    • wetennis says:

      Just to note: if I am focusing on freelancing/small business running – hubs are not too expensive. They are too expensive for the startups. The point is that their either don`t bring value (proper working environment) for money or their costs slows down a startup development a lot (which has received no financial investment).

      And why I am not moving to Panevėžys/Šiauliai:
      1) I am not alone. If I would live on my own I would consider this option. As for now – it does not makes any sense for two people to move out
      2) You get disconnected from people while living there. For some time (a month for example) it is a good idea. But not for the long ;)

      • Andrius B. says:

        That’s what I meant – move for short/specific time, maybe to focus on particular task, etc.

        But yeah, I got your point about the definition of startups and freelancing.

  2. Why don’t you just get a garage? Are you expecting that somebody (for example government) will provide it to you and pay the bills? Then you might be in a real risk, because there will always be guys who have enough $ to pay everything themselves at the start. Everyone respect those who can do much of the stuff themselves not expecting something from someone. That is the main idea between the “viable” and “not viable” startups in a jargon of “angels”.
    But generally your thoughts are good. Working from home is full of distractions. And the moments when you get to some meeting afterwards can get a bit awkward…You’re getting used to work alone then.
    Another option might be helping some organizations. For example university or governmental organizations would always use somebody who can help with IT. Contract for 0.5 hours per day and the right to use office any time in exchange for some small help in organization – might work well. Typically there are organizations which have even buildings or floors that are not used.

    • Vytenis says:

      Hey Domas, first I`d like to thank you for the comment. Let me explain a bit (I wasn`t clear, my bad):
      – Garage is a symbol of a really cheep office space, filling in the current needs.
      – Me and my team is doing well without a garage or a rent. How ever there is a place to point at things that are not helping us to grow. Lack of space doesn`t.
      – I do book keeping. I do know where is spent what and for what. And I see what we need further. There are more important things in the priority list.

      HOW EVER the main point of this post is to attract some attention into the issue. As an issue I identify the lack of resources towards helping young business to grow. And I agree that it must be limited, it shouldn`t be overused, there should be some requirements to fit if you want to get benefits.

      Actually there was a program, created by Enterprise Lithuania and ran by Civitta which DID provide an office space for a startup (3 months. It is really enough of time to see if it is working or no.). And it was working. If it would be still alive this post wouldn`t be created at all.

      Also there still ARE “innovation centers”, funded by government/EU funds and actually being a land lord instead of a supportive body. As you hear the declarations – there are no issues. But from practice – there is.

      About help – well I do something different. I take projects for my company and therefor save income. For others it could be an option. Especially if VDI (State Labour Inspection) will not check their work time books (Tabeliai) :)))

      • Ok, now it is more clear that the problem is more public than your personal one. Yes, there is a huge lack of so called “free development” space in Lithuania…in all cities. It is quite strange, because there are so many buildings that are heated and bills are paid but they are actually not used partially or in a whole. I think, that the problem is the same as with housing – plenty of space and high expectations of owners + relatively cheap running costs stop price fall. Every owner thinks: “…ok, there is some free space (either it is an apartment, office, warehouse), but I’ll better pay those mere 400 or 500 LTL per month running costs, than let somebody in cheaper than 10000 LTL per month (example highly exaggerated). I suppose a good old real estate tax would fix the situation. In that case, owners would have to think how to use the property actively. Moreover, country is in a turning point where everybody will understand that there is already not enough population to occupy all empty housing, offices, employment possibilities…sad but that is the reality. Maybe falling down back to the bottom is the best way to rise higher?
        There are lot’s of guys who would use some free space for their work/inventions/art etc. But it will take time until market will offer some solution.

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