My first week at Buffer

Here's an overview about how my first week at my new job with Buffer

Well my first week at Buffer is almost up and I wanted to get some thoughts down on paper, well actually I wanted to be testing Redis but MongoDB is taking a while to download during a Vagrant rebuild and I figured this would keep me occupied!

Working in Buffer

The Buffer Values
The Buffer Values

Working in Buffer has been really great, it has exceeded my expectations (which were already set really high!) here are my main takeaways;

  • I really quickly learned the value of transparency - I felt almost immediately up to speed on what everyone was doing in the business, and not in broad terms either, like actually what they were doing. It has already paid dividends with knowing who to chat to about what. Joel has actually very recently written a blog post that talks about email transparency, it was inspired by a question I asked him recently.
  • I properly love the positivity and passion of everyone on the team - it is really refreshing and makes me feel even more positive by proxy.
  • Watching really smart people interacting is fascinating - because of the openness and transparency of everything it means that I am privy to a lot of ideas unfolding, it is way more rewarding to see where these ideas come from more than it is to just hear about the idea without seeing the working out.
  • We use a lot less email than I thought we would - Given the fact everyone has access to pretty much all email I was worried I would need to put a stupid amount of filtering in place, but so far having the fire hose of everything has worked out 100%, I think this is largely down to the two main tools that I spend most of my days in, HipChat and Sqwiggle, both of these are excellent for getting questions answered quickly and checking in with folk. Belle wrote up a great run down of our tools recently that mentioned both these.
  • The culture is completely different to what I am used to - I have mentioned the openness thing a fair amount already, but there are nine guiding principles of the Buffer culture, each one is incredibly important but I think each one is a skill that needs to be worked on over time, this is something I will need to work hard at I think.
  • Everything is pondered and considered - Anything I have asked apart from the most basic cut and dry answer type question hasn’t had an immediate reply, the person on the other end of the question has paused to consider it before replying, this is something a great many people do, but it is something that I have noted pretty much everyone I have spoken at Buffer so far does, it is really interesting because I feel like I don’t ponder enough.

Working from Home

This also will be concluding my first full work of working from home, this has brought its own challenges and rewards;

  • I am enjoying the freedom and flexibility - There is certainly a lot to be said to not being bound to one location in terms of the mental freedom it brings, not having to consider a commute in the mornings is lovely! I am even considering bringing naps into my routine, something I couldn’t really do at an office.
  • On the downside I am certainly not walking the same amount - I was doing at least 10,000 steps a day before and now I am not even half of that (I guess, my FitBit is currently out of order!)
  • I am spending way less money - The temptation to go out and lunchtime and buy food was just too much for me when I worked in town or near a shop, so this is good for my bank balance and for my calorie count!
  • I don’t feel as disconnected as I thought I would - Whilst Sqwiggle conversations don’t negate the need for human to human interactions, they do certainly feel me feel more connected to the folks I am working with, certainly more than I thought I would. It helps as well that my fiancée works shifts so occasionally I will get to see her during the day.
  • I am drinking far less - No idea why this is but my water/tea consumption has went way down, to the point where I need to remind myself to drink or else I get headaches, this is a weird one!
  • My cats don’t like me being here - and not giving them attention!

Working with PHP again

I think within a week of working in Ruby I boldly declared that I would never go back to PHP, that was a short sighted thing to say and whilst Ruby is a gorgeous language and the community is amazing, I found that the more I used it and Rails the more I seen similar issues cropping up that you get with PHP, there is no perfect language, here are my takeaways;

  • Feels familiar and enjoyable - I have loved diving back into it, there is a certain comfort with the level of familiarity I have with the language that I hadn’t quite got to feel yet for Ruby.
  • The Buffer code base is a joy to work with - One of the main issues a lot of people have with PHP is how easy it is to write pretty bad code, luckily this isn’t the case with Buffer, which has helped me transition back in to PHP land!
  • I want to try and bring some things I picked up in Ruby land back to PHP - There are some practices used amongst Ruby developers that I think would work well in PHP, I am going to see if introducing those concepts is jarring in PHP code, I suspect it won’t be.
  • Semicolons - I forgot how annoying it is to leave one of these off!

Wrapping Up

I have been enjoying the experience so far and will hopefully continue to do so! Something I think I want to start doing is blogging about my experiences working remotely, I think there are going to be some unique challenges I will face that might be interesting to talk about.

Finally, if anyone knows how to speed up installing MongoDB on a fresh Vagrant Up, please let me know!

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