Working remotely, virtual working, telecommuting, telework: these are increasingly the means of taking the work you want while living where you want. Some cringe at the idea of working without a primary office—imagining all the distractions of a conventional household—but this kind of job flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean working from home. Working remotely can mean telecommuting from a coffee shop, writing from a library, or even typing out code from a coworking space.
Matt Machuga is a family man passionate about what he does, how he does it, and from where. In this member spotlight, we sit down with a remotely working, software developing, BMX riding Radius member who enjoys the perks of the flexible coworking environment.
Are you an Erie Native?
Yep, I went to McDowell High School, then to Edinboro University. My wife and I moved to Florida for a year and then came back.
What drew you to Radius?
Radius started about three years after I moved back. I saw that it was coming into existence and I waited for its grand opening. I began coming to Radius because I had been working remotely on and off for the past six years. I liked the idea of having an office, having people to bounce ideas off of, and just socialize a little bit more. It’s exciting that Erie has something modern.
You work for a company in Pittsburgh. What are the perks of working remotely?
It provides a better work/life balance. I can see my family more and I don’t have to worry about commuting in and out of a major city. I still get to communicate with my coworkers but I get to work on my own terms. It’s a lot more relaxing for me because I like to get started early in the morning but I don’t necessarily like to leave the house, so I get to see my kids before they go to school.
How does coworking and Radius fit your workstyle?
It gives me an optional office away from home, but I’m not obligated to use it every day. I can come in and work alongside other professionals. On days where I have to do conference related things, it’s much easier for me to interact with the people in the city if I’m already here. I can use Radius as my base of operations. It also helps having a place where kids can’t interrupt a conference call.
Tell me about what you do here?
The majority of the time I’m at Radius I work on my full-time job, and when I come in on different hours I’m typically working on the Erie Day of Code or the Coderie Meetup, our monthly developer’s meetup, also hosted here at Radius. That can be anything from managing logistics, to packaging up shirts and other gifts for people (conference attendees), planning speakers, or meeting with people who are interested in joining the meet up.
Can you tell me about Erie Day of Code?
The Erie Day of Code is a one day event that we hold annually. It’s mostly focused on bringing professionals to the area to discuss open source technology. While we focus on web developer technology, it’s expanding into systems development and after development.
Our main goal, is to foster community. A great conference environment is so helpful for networking and knowing you have other people to reach out to. It’s very similar to the coworking experience, where you can spend time around other professionals who you don’t work with day to day and grow your knowledge set.
I saw on your website you’ve done a couple talks, where did those take place?
One was in Amsterdam in 2013, and then I gave another talk in Louisville, Kentucky this past July of 2016. They were for the Laravel Framework community, which holds a significant amount of interest in the area.
Tell me about the company you work remotely for, Think Through Learning?
We recently got acquired by Imagine Learning so the Think Through Math product is now under them. I’ve been working with them for about four years now. We have a wonderful team. I was the original remote employee. We’ve had two more since then. Both of them have moved on but now our DevOps person has recently gone remote.
Who are your clients? Are they from Erie or elsewhere?
It is a U.S. based company. We sell our products to schools and school districts primarily, sometimes we get entire states. Our product is an augmentation to a math curriculum. So teachers will use us in and out of the classroom to help students learn math.
Why did you decide to stay & work in Erie?
When I was down in Florida I got to experience my first real user group. Down there, I learned what it is like to build up a community and have like-minded people you could meet up with once a month. So, my coworkers and I started going to that and then we started one in Sarasota, where I lived. Ultimately, a few months after that, I announced I was moving back to Pennsylvania. I went to the first Ruby conference in Pittsburgh and that inspired me to start a user group in Erie and expand out from there. While I really liked Florida, it’s nice to be home and in the community where you already have personal and professional roots.
What sparked your interest in software development?
I’ve been into computers since I was about three. I tried to learn how to program when I was 12 and it didn’t go so well, but I started learning. By the time I reached University I knew I wanted to do some programing. I tried it out, really got into it, and just kept going from there. It turned into not just a career path but a hobby. It was a lot of fun and still is.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I like to play with my two daughters. When I’m not with the family I like to ride BMX.
Any last comments?
Mostly I’m just thankful there is a place where I can go and make the home base of Erie Day of Code that has a very similar mind set. Radius is very focused on generating community and networking, and the Erie Day of Code thrives on that. We create a welcoming community, a sense of togetherness, and helpfulness. Coderie has Radius’ help and leadership to push our business forward. It’s very refreshing to have a place to go and know we can take up ten tables while packing up shirts—and it’s totally welcome.
Wait, one more question. How do you think Erie’s community has changed since Radius came into existence?
I feel like when we started forming Coderie, a lot of us had no idea there were a good number of developers in the area. A lot of us felt like we were alone. We could pretty much stay isolated in our basement and that was it. But as meetings went on from August to December, 2012, we started seeing more new faces. We started to get the sense that our community was bigger than we thought. Radius revealed a whole other scope of that isolated professional community, not just developers, but people from any field looking to work and learn together. Erie just feels better connected.