Photo: Jaclyn HalliwellHappiness and the home-based worker in Waterloo Region Alex Kinsella August 5, 2015 Columns, Ecosystem, Tech About Town Photo: Hootsuite’s Don Halliwell works for the Vancouver-based company from his home in Waterloo Region. Waterloo Region is as famous for its hometown companies as it is for the international companies that have opened offices here. We’re as proud to be the headquarters of Magnet Forensics, eSentire and Vidyard as we are to have local offices of Shopify, Google and Square. What might surprise you is the number of remote employees in the area who work from home, shared workspaces and of course – coffee shops. Taking some inspiration from Amandah Wood and Ways We Work, I sat down with one of these workers to find out how they work, where they work, and what working remotely in Waterloo Region is like. Don Halliwell is a Guelph native who cut his teeth doing PR and product marketing at BlackBerry. (Disclosure – I worked with Don at BlackBerry from 2009 to 2014.) Don recently joined the #HootFamily at Vancouver-based Hootsuite and is working remotely here in Waterloo Region. Q – Where do you set up shop around town? A – I’ve got an office setup in my home that I spend most of my time in. I’m there four days a week, and our team uses co-working space the remaining day so we can be together in person. I do spend a nominal amount of time in coffee shops for meetings and networking, but I haven’t found myself going there to actually get work done yet. It is nice to know that the option exists though, for sure. Q – How do you stay connected with your co-workers back in Vancouver and around the globe? A – My co-workers are connected all the time – we make the most of technologies available and use tools like Hangouts and GoToMeeting to keep in touch. Sometimes it’s a video call, others it’s a quick IM session. We use email frequently as well which is nice, as the majority of the organization resides at our head office in Vancouver. With the time-zone difference, emails can sit overnight and be addressed in the morning when there’s less urgency. When it is urgent, though, I know I’ll be getting a BBM because it’s nice to see when messages have been delivered and read. Q – How do you connect with the tech community here in Waterloo Region? A – I connect here in number of ways. I try to be active in social media with a number of people I’ve met in the region – I think that in social, I’m active daily. Weekly, I try to make it out to different places or events that are going on. The Communitech Hub, for me, is always a place to hang my hat for a few hours, and you never know who you’ll bump into. Networking and co-learning events are a great way to stay connected as well, like Product Hunt or Ignite, for example. # # # It’s a short week for many around town, so don’t let the weekend sneak up on you. I see and hear that . . . For the art-and-blues lovers out there, BarnRaising Associates is throwing the Stone Soup Blues Art Partyat THEMUSEUM this Friday at 7:30 p.m., admission is free . . . If live music is your thing, Maxwell’s Music House is hosting the Battle for KOI Music Fest Group 2 with five bands battling to win a spot on the main stage at the KOI Music Festival, Sept. 25-27 in Kitchener. Ten bucks gets you in. The bands take the stage at 7 p.m. this Friday . . . I’m personally a fan of corn, and we have a lot of it here in Waterloo Region. This Saturday, head up to Baden for its annual Baden Corn Fest starting at 7 a.m.; admission is free . . . Finally, join the HackerNest Kitchener Waterloo crew at The Accelerator Centre next Monday, Aug. 10 at 8 p.m. for some good old- fashioned networking. No cost, but donations are always appreciated for this volunteer-run event.