A couple of months ago we moved into our new office having worked from home for a couple of years. Home is not a small mansion overlooking the ocean but a lovely, yet compact, apartment that manages to defy all laws of nature and house two adults, a five year old cyclone, 429 My Little Ponies and a weird tin chicken. Seriously.
Since moving into the office I’ve noticed a few differences with regards to my behaviour, daily habits and stress levels. There are the obvious ones; I bathe more often now and workplace attire has moved from shorts and t-shirts to…nicer shorts and t-shirts.
But the major difference has to do with my ability to switch off. You see, in our little apartment we didn’t have a separate office for, “work stuff,” and because it had nowhere to go, there was an ongoing battle to either find, or hide, “the pile.” This stack of things included unfinished briefing notes, to-do lists and manuscripts that constituted what needed to be completed over the next few days. On Monday, there was a mad scramble to find the pile, which had no doubt been tidied up on Friday evening so that small hands wouldn’t destroy the order of papers, and visitors wouldn’t judge us for, you know, having a pile.
Now, everything to do with work is at the office. At the end of the day or the week I can literally close the door, jump on my bike and put some distance between myself and whatever needs to be done on Monday. I find that when I’m home, I’m actually mentally home and in an interesting twist, when I work from home for a day, I have no trouble focusing or avoiding Netflix.
If I could do it all again (and I may very well do just that) I would assign less of my day to feeling guilty about not working, and just not work instead. Working from home means that there are numerous distractions that are easily accessible. When you feel tired at the office, all you can do is complain, but at home you can literally go to bed if you feel like it. Unproductive days are extraordinarily unproductive when you are in the middle of Westworld and those annoying weekend tasks can be taken care of on Wednesday.
But all that’s fine, as long as guilt doesn’t sneak in as well. Guilt makes me unproductive and leads to negative behaviours such as browsing news websites for no reason, and stalking people on social media.
Working from home is awesome, but it’s not the same as working from an office and that’s a good thing. I don’t miss the pile, but I do miss the added flexibility that comes with having your home and office combined. I think that working from an office has made me a better work-from-homer and my time spent working from that little apartment has helped me to be disciplined and structured when I’m at the office.
After all, I’ve got a real home to go to now.