If you work from home, like I once did, you may find that soon your home life begins to conflict with your work life. For example, when you work from home you might get up in the morning to start your day and instead of enjoying a sunrise, some reading, exercise, or your breakfast, you instead begin by immediately checking your email. After which, you happen to get an early morning call from another time zone. Pretty soon, you’re stressed out and trying to resolve 100 problems before you even got the chance to use the toilet. On a bad day, you might never get a chance to even get fully clothed or brush your teeth. However, you might actually find that this saga of “the never-ending workday” is necessary due to the fact that your normal work hours from home are usually filled with distractions.
It may be distractions from your family members or from a roommate, but often, let’s face it, the distractions are your fault. You realize that it would be great to get your laundry done or the dishes washed while you’re on a call instead of multitasking to get your work done. You realize that it’s very convenient to snack throughout the day because your kitchen is just down the hall; even worse, you may be working from kitchen! You’re alone with your thoughts. Sure, there’s email and phone calls and video conferencing (which you may want to use an avatar for because you haven’t got dressed yet) but let’s face it, they all lack direct human interaction. There’s no conversation around the water cooler, there’s no going out to lunch with friends, and there’s no sharing a silent laugh with a weird look when you’re a solo act. There is only a black hole that sucks up your energy and creativity one day at a time and when you do go out in public after a day void of direct social interactions, you’ll begin to realize that your once witty, high social IQ has begun to deteriorate.
If that’s not bad enough, “the never-ending workday” from home also has some obviously negative consequences on your family life, your health, and sanity too, as you begin to realize that you can’t leave your work at work. Well, actually you can. The problem is that your work-life and home-life have become indistinguishable from one another. If you happen to be a Seinfeld fan like I am, try to use George’s rant about two world colliding as an analogy for this situation. “If Relationship George walks through this door, he will Kill Independent George! A George, divided against itself, Cannot Stand!” Similarly, if your Work Self is allowed to exist in the same realm as your Home Self, something has to give.
Regardless, there are some people that can make it work. They’re good at setting boundaries for themselves and sticking to them like glue. Thus, they’re successful at finding ways to mitigate some of the aforementioned problems with working from home. For the rest of us, we’ll have to find other solutions.
One solution that I happen to have experience with is co-working. Co-working is an affordable way to have an office space, as that space is shared with a community of other co-workers that are all working on different tasks. It’s very much like working out of a regular office, except that co-workers are actually all working for different businesses or on different business ideas. Office resources like a conference room, desk space, white boards, AV equipment, a printer, a kitchen, and even coffee, are shared by all. In short, this is a real office space, not a kitchen table. Personally, I think the beauty of the whole concept is in the cross pollination that occurs in the community, as co-workers will likely have vast differences in their areas of expertise and their professional networks. This can create interesting possibilities for co-workers to find strategic partners, grow their professional networks, and even make new friends.
Understand that if you’re working from home today and have somehow wasted enough of your time to read this far, maybe you should really consider co-working as an option. If you are, I shamelessly must promote FertiLab Thinkubator as a great place to co-work. However, if you aren’t anywhere near the Eugene/Springfield area, just do a Google search to find out what options are near you. Seriously, you may want to do it before you lose your family, social skills, and personal hygiene.
Author: Jeff Sather