Working at home sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it?
You can roll out of bed and be at work. Your commute time, none existent. You can get odd jobs done around the house while you work and if you are a parent you can care for your children and work at the same time. This is the dream of so many.
When I started my trade show production company I worked from home for a short while and when I was starting my online coaching program working from home sounded like a good plan. If you do have children it’s nice to be able to care for them and not have the need to put them in childcare. My reasons for working out of my home included, convenience, cost and I wasn’t planning to work full time so I didn’t see the need for any office. I just planned to work when I wanted and then shift gears and take care of the house and children. This worked well for about a year and half, but I’m done working at home. I’m ready to move into a real office building. Here’s why:
I have a really hard time focusing on work at home. There are so many distractions. Obviously, caring for the children is at the top of the list so while they are at home you must prioritize their care and nurturing. I’ve found as a mom that even if my husband is at home and I’m “working” I still get called on to help find a lost item, grab a drink for a small child not able to manage alone and for handling meltdown situations. The overall cleanliness of the house is also a major distraction for me. I can’t sit down to work if I don’t have a clean space to work in. So inevitably I find myself cleaning the house before I get to work. I just have a hard time focusing.
Lack of space.
I’m fortunate to live in a very cute little beach house. I love it so much. However, it is a little beach house and I don’t have a dedicated office space at home. For a while I was working out of my bedroom on a desk that I very much liked. I had a great view of my backyard and the birds that came and went throughout the day. It was good, but then my husband’s online business needed a space and he slowly crept in. It’s hard to run a business with your spouse and sharing a desk was out of the question. Next, I turned to a walk in closet and created an efficient albeit small office that was all my own. It had a door I could close. It had a desk, printer, and wi-fi. What else would I need?? It turns out cell reception. Because this space was a closet, with no windows the cell reception was bad and when you’re a phone coach that doesn’t really work out. The dining room table and standing height counter (that I might add I’ve become quite fond of) have become my areas to work. And while they work, they are smack dab in the center of the household action.
I need an escape from my house. I’ve found that when you are in the same place day after day you become stir crazy. I need to get out of the house. I need to talk face to face with other adult humans. I need to have a change of scenery. I’ve tried coffee shops and the library but the issue with these venues is the set up time. At a coffee shop there is the chore of standing in line and waiting to order. As well as the unknown of finding a table and an outlet for my computer. The library is better, but I find I spend time concerning myself with those around me. These spaces also do not allow for real conversations with customers, clients, strategic partners or podcast recordings or interviews. They work okay if you will be doing nonverbal work, but I’m a very verbal person. I need an escape and the question is where do I escape too?
A place of my own.
One of my big goals as a location independent entrepreneur is to keep the items I have to have to run my business as minimal as possible. The items I need to work currently include: my phone, my laptop and my mic. A pair of headphones are wonderful, but not entirely necessary. I don’t want to need anything else. Of course I have many books, and binders; things I refer to, but my goal is to need as few items as possible so that in the event that I want to travel as my children age, or if I want to go somewhere for the day or weekend and work I can very easily. My favorite tool is Google Docs and one of my hopes is that through the use of Dropbox and Google Docs I can have everything I need online as well so that in the event of a computer crash or in a pinch I’m able to use another computer to perform my work. That being said, I want a place of my own. As a wife and mother when I set something down there is no telling if I will see that item again. Finding that item in the same place I left it is a 50/50 gamble. As a business owner I’ve always had partners. For the first time I do not have partners and truth told I’m looking forward to having a space that I can design, arrange and create for myself.
For those reasons I’ve decided that now is the time to get an office space outside of my home. I’ll be moving into my space this Saturday. Here’s how I was able to get a space that makes sense for me.
1. I didn’t rent an entire office building.
I can’t afford to rent an office and it’s not just the money. I don’t want a big space that I would need to fill. That wouldn’t solve my problem. I wanted to sublet a space and that’s what I did.
2. How to find an office to share or sublet.
There are these amazing places popping up all over called co-working spaces. These are offices that have been created for people who don’t need or can’t afford an office space. Options for co-working spaces vary. All provide a place to work, wi-fi and restroom facilities. Many provide a space that is your own, a conference room and beverage bar. These spaces are great. I looked at a couple, but both were about 30 minutes from my house and I didn’t want and don’t have time for an hour commute each day. The other option is to sublet from a current business. I live in a small town and though I scoured Craigslist I wasn’t able to find an office to sublet so I went door to door. I literally walked from business to business and asked them if they had an extra space they might want to sublet. And after an afternoon going door to door I found two spaces willing to sublet. One was even willing to sublet an office space in exchange of business coaching.
3. My financial commitment is important.
I am committing to $200 flat each month for my office space, including wi-fi. This will allow me to keep my expenses low and to have the space I need. What I want and what I’ve got are two different things. What I want is a large loft type artsy, trendy office with big windows, modern furniture and great coffee. What I’m getting is a small space in a hippie hangout. I’ll be taking a small desk from home and have committed to not spending money on office furniture until I am able to rent an office of my choice. And when I’m ready to rent the office of my choice I will create the exact space I want. It will be a beautiful thing. This is a big motivation for me. I was tempted to buy a new desk and chair and floor mat, but decided that they wouldn’t serve me. I’d much rather have the dream of something bigger, a carrot and a goal to shoot for.
I’m super excited to be moving into an office space. I’m excited to leave the house at 8am and head to “work” and when I get there, I won’t do dishes, or fold laundry. I won’t be called upon to find a lost toy or to right a wrong in a dispute among siblings. I won’t have to stand in line and hope for a table that is somewhat ergonomically correct, but really just way to high to type at. I won’t have the distraction of conversations around me at the library. I’ll have space to focus. I’ll also have time with my children. I’ll be able to drop them off at school and pick them up. I’ll be able to volunteer on the PTA and take them to their activities. I’ll be there for dinner time, homework and bedtime. I won’t have it all because I believe that’s just not possible, but I will have a lot of what I want, and I’m looking forward to it.