Don’t have what it takes to work from home? … yeah, me neither!

I recently read an article by Rachel Gillett of Business Insider entitled  “I worked from home for a year — here’s the one mistake I’ll never make again”. Immediately, I felt I had met a kindred spirit. In June 2015, I began working as contributing author on a textbook. Being in an educational environment of one kind or another for 35 years, I severely underestimated the culture shock I would have transitioning to a work-from-home existence.

What was worse was the fact that my internal clock was completely out of whack, working at odd hours and not being able to turn my brain off to sleep. Like Rachel, I would get on a roll and forget to take a lunch break (and yet, gained 10 pounds that year) because nobody was there to remind me. Too frequently I realized that, other than some occasional work days at a coffee shop or the public library, I rarely left home. No one was there to ask me to grab a drink after work, because there was no after work, and no one to ask me anyway. Hence, I didn’t have definite bookends to my day. I had no boundaries and no way to separate work from home life.

Jump ahead one year … Just 2 months ago, my family opened the first coworking community in our county. If you haven’t heard of coworking, you are not alone. Most suburban professionals think there are two options, work in a traditional office or work from home. Coworking has grown over the last ten years to meet the need for those of us that need the best of both worlds … the flexibility to work from home but the structure, support and time signals of an office space.

In her article, Rachel gave rules for those trying to work from home. I don’t know about you but I am not so hot following rules … isn’t that one of the reasons we like working for ourselves? Just sayin’. However, many of her rules make sense, especially when you take into account that coworking communities make following these “rules” a synch. Let’s see what she said:

  • work from homeSet a work start time, set an end time – Unlike many coworking facilities, ours is open 12/6 (twelve hours a day, six days a week) instead of 24/7. We felt that if work-life balance was honestly one of our goals, we didn’t want to temp people with a 2am work space. The early birds might be here from 7am-2pm and the late sleepers 11am-6pm. Many folks pop in throughout the day to get an hour or two of productive time in between appointments. Typically, you see people packing up late afternoon to go pick up kids, run errands or go work out … you know, real life!
  • Aim to eat lunch by 2 p.mNot a problem anymore. On Mondays we brown bag it, on Fridays we all go to lunch, and once a week we do a lunch-and-learn of some sort. I look forward to my time with them so much that I wouldn’t dare miss lunch!
  • Never work from bed – Ok, so this one might be a bit of a stretch because I will admit that I have taken a nap in our coworking conference room…. BUT one thing that I have noticed since starting to work here is that I don’t take my computer home during the week, and if I do, I don’t take my power cord (which means I MAYBE have 45 minutes of juice). I am so productive at the office that I don’t have a need for it and I can truly unplug.
  • Change clothes – Easy one! Studies show that the act of changing clothes, even if it is into something comfy, helps get you into a better mindset and creates a routine. Around here, you see everything from slacks and a nice shirt to cargo shorts and flip-flops. Admittedly, I am typically barefoot.
  • Don’t let your pets be a distraction – Other than the landlord’s stumpy legged dogs waddling by our front door, there are no “pet me, pet me”, “I gotta go potty” or “feed me, feed me” interruptions from man’s best friend.
  • TV should always stay off when you are working – “This is not a library!” is the first sentence on our office etiquette list. It is good to have the hum of activity or background noise but you don’t need anything fighting for attention with your work. We have low music going, most folks are rocking earbuds, and several people are on conference calls. There is a buzz but no distracting reality shows or infomercials.
  • Leave errands until after work or at lunch – Honestly, I break this one continuously. I enjoy popping out of the office to go to the post office just 2 blocks away or walking next door to the dry-cleaners. You get a burst of Vitamin D and it is good for your posture. At home, these interruptions (such as the beeping of the washer and dryer) are not nearly as welcomed.

The moral to the story … working from home may work perfectly for some people, but I am one with the fact that I am not some people. Being part of a coworking community forces me to get on my work in such a way that it prevents my work from ruling the rest of my life.

So Rachel (and anyone else struggling with a mandatory or self-inflicted sentence of home-bound work), if you ever need a place to work that will help you be productive while reaping the benefits of remote work, give us a call!


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