This small little book God’s Own Office is probably an indicator of the times to come. Where some of us, if not most, would be able to choose the place we want to live and work from. Author James Joseph is probably one of the first to do it successfully to the extent he has without compromising his career in a big way. The author talks about his journey from a small village in Kerala to Europe and the USA. Where he built a credible career for himself before he decided to move back to his home state and continue to work from there for his global company. He then shares his insights on the move back to a small place – giving some very practical tips for those who may want to follow him.
What I liked most about the story and the book God’s Own Office is the author’s willingness to experiment with something that he wanted to do but is so unusual that you can almost call it an Innovation. Many people want to do the same, but not many have the guts to go ahead and experiment with it. Though we see James Joseph succeeding at his experiment, he could have failed as well. As there were quite a few external factors that he was dependent on for his success. What also stands out is his meticulous planning to make it happen. Taking along both his professional colleagues and family members. I am sure it would not have been as easy as it sounds in the book. Or as they say, nostalgia has the tendency to smoothen the rough edges.
I also like his practical advice on setting up a home office – his checklist can come very handy. Living in Goa and working from home, I know how crucial the Internet connectivity can be. And how difficult it is to explain the unavailability of the same to others in metros. Or outside India who has 24 X 7 high-speed connectivity. His tips on choosing the right location for home and on nurturing a balanced relationship with locals are also worth taking seriously. His cost-benefit analysis can be taken as a pointer; you would need to work out your analysis before you take a call. His tip on choosing to pick some tabs like travel cost to office in another city is valuable as it keeps things simple for a longer run.
On the downside, I found his description of his own career and ‘Never made a mistake’ attitude sometimes cheesy. His tips on the kind of roles you choose. And the way you work, I think got too specific for his company and his role. He never mentions what his role at Microsoft was. But seems like he was organizing a lot of big-ticket events for them. Events that involved a lot of coordination with people outside the organization. Hence, making it relatively easy for him to work from a remote location. This may or may not be replicable for everyone.
Also, he did not mention if there was any downside in his career path for choosing to stay in his hometown. The author also mentions his venture that sells Jackfruit. I checked their website and offerings. It is a lovely concept. And the one that I hope flourishes well so that we can eat jackfruits around the year. But in the book God’s Own Office James Joseph makes it feel much larger than it is at the moment.
Overall, God’s Own Office is a very quick read and a few good tips to take away.