The Way We Work: Steph Pakrul

In a new twist on our “Way We Work” series, I present this interview with one of our star themers, Steph Pakrul. This is sort of the first in a two-parter–Steph works very closely with her husband, Chris Fassnacht, so close, we sometimes refer to them as “Christeph”.

Without further ado:

Gregory: Have you worked remotely before working for CivicActions?
Steph: Yep, I’ve worked remotely most of my career, at least the parts I’ve enjoyed the most! I started doing web design contract work in high school and have always kept it up, at least part time.

GH: Do you work from home? or from an office? or a cafe? Do you work around other people? or alone?
SP: I work from home, together with my husband Chris. We have a warehouse loft in Oakland with a dedicated office space. We do enjoy getting together with other local CivicActioners and coworking on occasion.

GH: What kind of computer do you work on primarily? what are your favorite peripherals? 30 inch monitor? track ball?
SP: I’ve got a pretty beefy self-built desktop with dual monitors (one widescreen, for code/Photoshop/email and one 4:3 for web browser), ergonomic split keyboard, and trackball. We’ve got a great home office with a NAS for backup and sharing all our files and laser multifunction printer. I also have a Macbook that I use for lighter work while stretched out on the couch, and testing sites in Safari. I definitely couldn’t live without my hyper-programmable trackball.

GH: Any special furniture you could not work without?
SP: No, actually my furniture kinda sucks (cheapest Ikea legs + tabletops, and they have pointy edges, boo!), except for having a pretty good chair. And a footstool. Ok, I couldn’t work without a footstool to prop my feet up on. So much better on my back/legs.

GH:How does your average day begin?
SP: Lately, with the sounds of construction in the store below us… but ordinarily, we tend to have CivicActions meetings in the early morning, so we wake up in time for those around 9am, grab some breakfast, check email and RSS feeds (Drupal Planet, Lifehacker, Engadget, Slashdot, etc).

GH:How does it end?
SP: Working on our hobbies and side projects late into the evening. We generally keep some pretty random working hours.

GH:If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the way you work, what would it be?
SP: I’d love a better desk/storage. Also we’d really like to go paperless and even more mobile, with more work-friendly laptops and cellular data. We’re moving towards getting all our mail digital through EarthClassMail, and would like to scan and catalogue all paperwork instead of keeping hard copies.

GH:What are the most productive times of your day?
SP: It really depends. I usually have a great burst early morning, and then again mid-afternoon, and in the late evenings.

GH:What is your biggest challenge about working from home?
SP: The only thing I miss is being in a downtown, urban area for part of my day.

GH:What do you love about it most?
SP: Everything! Flexibility, independence, convenience. Hanging out with my husband and our pets all day. Being able to run errands on a Thursday morning instead of Saturday afternoon. Conference calls from the bathtub. Taking a nap when you really need to.

GH:Do you miss working in an office with other people you work with?
SP:No. I tend to find being around other people a lot quite tiring and stressful. It’s great for short periods but I’ve never enjoyed doing it every day.