I’ve managed to work from home successfully for nearly eight years now – but it appears I’ve been missing a trick.
I hadn’t been making my home office beautiful enough.
I was so excited when I woke up this morning (at 6am with a child on either side and a husband hanging off the edge, but that’s another story). Today is my first day working at my stunning Minty bureau. It got me thinking about how we work – the choices, the set up and most importantly, the results.
Why work from home?
The obvious benefit is the cost saving. In Aberdeen I used a brilliant co-working space, but it was costing me money every week. In Glasgow, I used a room in my parents’ house and although they didn’t expect it, I contributed each month. In Edinburgh, until recently, I was using the business centre in the gym and spending a small fortune on coffee and lunch. These are all business costs which have to be factored in to your fees.
Time-saving has been the main factor for me recently. When your kids are at school 9-3 even a half hour commute each way is a good chunk out your working day. I prefer to just get my head down and get it all done in time for pick-up.
Efficiency is another huge plus, as far as I’m concerned. I used to work in a newsroom, stuff was always going down. There was loads of chat, events, interviews, launches, meetings… God meetings! Now, if I have a meeting it’s for a purpose and I can fit it in round everything else. I can usually make it local too.
The missing piece, I have now realised, is comfort. I work in a creative industry. I have to get my head right before I brainstorm a campaign or write a killer press release or conjure up a memorable post or video. I feel like now I have my gorgeous desk space (with my back to the rest of the house) I can get into that zone much more easily.
How to work from home successfully
Of course, these are the nuts and bolts, now you have to make the magic happen. Here’s what not to do:
- turn the TV on
- invite other mums back for a quick, kid-free coffee
Working from home requires a lot of discipline – especially when you have family commitments. I’ve always had a dedicated space, but now I have a beautiful bureau, so I want to stay seated. Anyone who tells you they don’t work at the dining table is lying. Sometimes circumstances dictate that you slap the laptop down on any old surface and get sh*t done. That’s fine – and most people with a traditional office do the same – it just can’t become the norm.
The other thing that works short term, but will no doubt drive you nuts the longer it goes on, is hot desking. Yes it’s environmentally friendly to be paper-free and have everything in the cloud. But you need a base. You need somewhere to store stuff in an organised fashion. I’m a journalist. I have more than 50 reporters notebooks all jammed with shorthand and meticulously dated. I need to know where they are. I need a box for pens and a shelf for clippings and a drawer for paper. I also need a printer and those things aren’t portable.
Finally, just because you work from home, doesn’t mean you’re unprofessional. You need a workflow, a system and a routine. I’ve experimented with dozens of online tools, and I do like Trello for collaboration, but I’ve realised I’m a visual person. I love a white board. I colour code clients and tasks and know exactly where I am. I also love notebooks. Paperchase is my favourite shop in the world ever. Each project has its own master notebook. Right now I’m doing an SEO course, so I’m forever pulling out the blue hard cover, perfect bound labelled “SEO” and referring back to scribbled notes of tools and tricks and paths to get to the right bit on Google Analytics.
Should I work from home?
Yes, you should.
I guess I’m lucky because I quite often go in and work in my clients’ offices during projects so I get the best of both worlds. However, I have become addicted to the flexibility. As a busy mum of two young boys, I also adore the peace. The noise, drama and politics of an office would be very difficult to bear now that I know the alternative. I’m happy, focused and productive in my work life – and a big part of that is due to working from home.
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- August covered Google Analytics
- July covered getting more readers for your blog
- June covered handling a PR crisis