Don't Compromise Your Work Environment
The moment you accept a less than ideal work environment you are also accepting lower quality work and less value for your time. It's easy to let your work space slide, or to accept a cubicle echo chamber when times are tight. This is one negotiation you can't afford to yield on.
There's no better expert in this area than Joel Spolsky. He has gone where most software developer companies have feared to tread by providing his Fog Creek employees with ideal lighting and quiet office space. Joel's blog is legendary in and outside of his industry. His 12 questions are the number one discriminant for many startups, developers, and larger software businesses. What Joel understands and has conveyed to anyone who is willing to listen, is that work environment serves an integral role in producing superb quality products. Fog Creek gives full refunds any time, that's a backed promise of quality.
Most recently I brought home a couple of puppies. Soon after I began work on a software project at home in addition to blogging. The background noise and continual distraction has taken a toll on my work. The more elaborate conceptual posts are few and far between, and my web programming trial by fire is burning my time. Concentration is an absloute must for sustained productive work (at least writing and software development). Sometime ago I shared a post, Stress makes programmers dumber where the details of distraction costs are outlined by authors of the programmers stone. Joel Spolsky describes the cost of distractions, and is joined by Paul Graham in his recent post about the half day increment of a developers workday not mixing well with the hourly layout of an executives day.
Please don't neglect something as simple as your work environment, you'll regret it in the long run. With that it's long past time for me to move my home PC into a back room!