I Need An Office

I’ve been working from home for a year and a half now, and I’ve had enough. It’s time for an office.

Yeah, I know, I used to brag about how cool it was, and how nice it was to work in pajamas. The conveniences are still there mind you. I can always be available for FedEx, phone guys and plumbers, and accepting various other deliveries. I spend 2 minutes making coffee, and that is the gist of my “getting ready” in the morning. I don’t have to drive to work, and suffer the 3 hours a day sitting in a hot car, wasting money on gas, and robbing myself of 3 weeks of my life a year. All that stress during the commute is never accumilated. I’m in my home environment, in my personal office, with copious amounts of food (sometimes) in comfortable surroundings. My puppy dogs are asleep at my feet. What setting could be better to code in?

And that’s the problem. It’s my home, not my work.

A friend of ours once diagnosed her majesty and I with a problem. She noticed my gaming systems in the bedroom, with the bed aimed at the TV, and all of her majesty’s toys next to the bed. This wasn’t a bedroom, but where her majesty and I relaxed. You are supposed to do that in the living room if you have one. It was just nice to be relaxed while I played games and could spend time with her majesty while she knit or blogged or whatever. However, it cost us sleep. I already have mild insomnia, and she can’t sleep if I’m not sleeping. We were bluntly told to only sleep in the bedroom; if I wanted to play games, if she wanted to knit or blog, or if either of us wanted to watch a movie or TV, we’d have to do so in the living room.

So, I moved all of our shiz, and we re-arranged, the bed to not face the TV. We moved the TV out, too. Within 2 weeks, I was finding it easier to sleep, and other positive things came from the living room situation as well. In short, it was an appropriate use of rooms.

I think I’m not using my office appropriately. Although it’s my “man cave”, it harbors a lot of negativity. All the pain, frustration, and anger of my day stays there. I’m not very good at dropping things either. That attitude is what helps me spend hours solving a simple problem. It’s also a curse, though, when working from home. You can’t “leave it at work”. It’s one thing to discuss your day to get it off your chest; it’s another to return to the room to finishing working. I’ve even found myself some days dreading going into the room. This is the same room that inspires me to create, the same room that has Flex 2 & Flash 8 installed on my gaming box… and I even hesitate? Do you see the horror of the situation?

When her majesty comes home from work, the home becomes a different place. She “lives here” while I’m working. It’s hard to switch modes. I’ve done it, but it robs me of distraction sometimes. If she catches me at a stopping point, or when I’m merely merging & checking code in, it’s really not a big deal at all. But if I’m in the middle of debugging, or on the phone, conversing with co-workers, or talking to clients… it’s rough. I want to be the house husband, but I need to be working. Taking a break is hard because so near to the end of the day, it’s hard to keep the momentum going if you haven’t started something cool at like 3:00.

I always thought working from home would be awesome. I remember reading Sean Voisen’s experience about he was lonely, and wanted to be on a team in person. Hah! Dude, I so was not going to be lonely, and I can still work with a team I thought. Yeah, but you can never leave the tribulations elsewhere, you never have a sanctuary, and work is always a click away. Without a proper balance, you end up like me, blogging when you should be passed out exhausted. Don’t get the wrong idea; the good and great days I have at work do propagate into the house hold, but they don’t belong there. They belong at work.

I had her majesty do reacon last week, and I did some searching today. A wide vareity of places are available, but I’m taking my boss’ advice, and only getting what I’m excited about. I was planning on getting the cheapest place I could find, but he said I’d hate it, and I believe him after playing it out in my mind.

One thing that won’t change is telecommuting. I’ll still telecommute to work. We have consultants all over the place, and my team and I can still collaborate, kick arse, and take numbers regardless of where we are. If a client needs me on site, I can do that too. For the day to day operations, I’ll need a new base of operations, and it’s not my home.

I think in the meantime, I’ll fix the regenerated Alienware laptop, and head to the local mom and pop donut & sandwhich shop to work at a few times a week. They have the fastest wireless I’ve ever seen, and overpriced sandwhiches. Being forced to get dressed daily will be weird, but something’s gotta give.

Any office buying advice?

15 Replies to “I Need An Office”

  1. I totally aggree! I am in the same situation.

    Its far easier to communicate with people when you can just pop into their office, instead of talking to them on Messenger or on the phone.

    Plus you get to leave your work at the office. Then you know you can’t worry about it after hours.

    Although I wouldn’t want to give up the option of working from home if I just needed to get something done on my own.

  2. As I commented in Mike Brittons blog on the subject, I’ve no regrets from my switch from home working to having my own office. We found an excellent deal on some brand new offices which were part-funded by local government as part of an area re-generation fund. I’d suggest getting in touch with your local coucil to see if there’s anything similar in your area, often you’ll find good deals or grants for moving your business to their region.

    Plus sort out a good server, vpn and backup setup. It’ll prove priceless when you need access to something externally or something goes tits up.

  3. I’ve gone from working at home > into an office > and now i’m back at home.

    I totally agree that for a home office to work it needs to be seperate from the rest of the house. Somewhere where you can lock youself away and not mix home life and work life (as you would in a traditional office).

    For me – one of the major ways to make the home office work is to force yourself out of the house (at least for 30 minutes) every day. Jesse you mentioned going down to the local sambo shop this is a great start (but leave the lappy at home). Go visit a client, go for a walk, do the shopping, but make sure you GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!

    In addition to getting out on a daily basis I try and be habitual as I can with my daily work prep routine (wake-up time, breakfast, showering, dressing, etc). Just as you would have to when you have to go into an office situation with a team.

    One of the major downsides though is having your work at home can lead you to work longer than average hours. Which ca be both a blessing and a curse. But at the end of the day dude it’s all about balance.

    BTW mate i’m glad to hear that you moved the tv out of the bedroom. Its a well documented fact that tv’s (as well as pets and kids) in bedrooms are the biggest killers of passion and sex. And I know if I had a choice between tv and sex which i’d choose – porn on the tv wins hands down ;-) (so long as it it’s not Jabba The Butt – LMAO)

  4. Aaaaah… the demons!!!

    I can 100% understand… I have been in a very similar situation for the last 18 months – the only difference is that me & the Mrs have a flatmate and so my office is actually IN my bedroom!!! As a result I have total insomnia and have little interest in socialising anymore.

    Just a word of warning… one Friday a cuppla months ago. I had been working all day and was in the zone when I received a text reminding me of my mate’s birthday party!!! Still in my PJ’s, I left the ActionScript, threw some clothes on and within 15mins of remembering; I was in a noisy bar with dozens of folk I hadn’t seen for ages. Well… my body was at least… my brain on the other hand was still at the computer working thru the code. 5mins later… I woke up on the floor of the noisy bar with those same people now huddled over me shouting my name in distorted slow-motion stylee. I had fainted mid-conversation!!! I then proceeded to faint another 2 times as a cuppla very good friends carried me thru the crowd to get some fresh air. Luckily I hadn’t hurt myself or anyone else but I was pretty disturbed by the whole incident. How do you explain to your non-Flash friends that it wasn’t the 1 bottle of Tiger you were sipping at the bar which caused you to collapse.
    I am now far more aware of how fine the balance is… not that it has made a blind jot of difference – I am writing this in nothin but my boxers (heatwave in Scotland) with my cat Monkey rolling about on my lap!!!


    Andy McDonald, Glasgow

  5. I’m in the same situation as you. I am looking for space to move my home-office into. The seperation of home and work is important. The daily ritual of going to your place of work and then back home helps transition your mind.

    Try looking for ‘Executive Suites’. That is the term for a small office that typically has shared resources like a kitchen, receptionist, bathroom, copy/fax etc. I’ve seen some that are as small as 120 sq. feet.

  6. I understand what you are going through. I have had similar problems myself. But like all things, there are problems with the alternative. Like losing a good few hours travelling every day to an office.

    The best way to resolve working at home without all the travel and expenses of setting up an office away from home is being disciplined. Keep regular hours as much as possible. Make your office off bounds to family and perhaps have it in an outside room or far away from your living area.

    There are pro’s and con’s to both solutions, find a way to make your home office work though as that will more than likely make the most economic solution.

  7. I have been working from home for about 4 years, so I certainly understand what you are going through. I often say that I like to work at home, unfortunately that means I have to live at work.

    One thing that has helped me is to put a lock on the office door and lock it when I leave work (to reduce temptation to go back in later). Then the wife and I go for a walk. Feels like I am coming back home when I get back.

    OTOH, a friend of mine rented an apartment to use for an office and that worked well for him.

  8. I can uderstand as well. I actually go to work and then come home only to work some more on either:

    A) Personal Projects
    B) Side projects that I have going on.

    Our previous habitat allowed me to have an office which REALLY, REALLY helped. However, I still would run into certain frustrations and the lines between work and play become blurred.

    I love to work from home….but…. sometimes I believe that you have to take your work out of the home enviorment. It helps me to focus. I think the freedom to choose rather to work at home one day or go in to my office would be awesome.

    I believe I may try the ‘coffee shop’ method as well. It’d be cool if there was a ‘coffee / sandwich shop’ where it had small rooms, that you could go in so that you could work. These rooms should be aesthetically pleasing. I wonder if that’s how cyber cafe`s are suppose to work. I’ve never been to one.

  9. I’ve found working at home to be a dream come true and is something I’ve worked towards since getting in this biz. It allows me to be creative and get work when I feel like working, as opposed to feeling like I need to be ‘productive’ from 9-5. I’ve found I do my best work (or am more focused) either very early in the morning or late at night. From about noon to 3 pm I am mostly completely worthless and distracted, so I will usually take a break around this time (if my schedule allows). I am lucky enough to live within walking distance to the beach, and nothing beats taking your mind off work than surfing. Catch a few waves, take a power-nap on the beach and your ready to go for round 2.

    I also do the coffee shop thing in the mornings. It helps to break up the work/home environment. Not owning a TV definitely helps too. :) It takes a bit of discipline to work from home… not only to keep yourself busy working (and not watering the plants) but to also pull yourself away periodically, shut everything down and unplug for a while.

  10. Wow – Popular topic :) Until 2 weeks ago, I’ve been working at home since the date of the above-mentioned blog post. However, recently I managed to score shared office space with a friend of mine in a completely different business, only 3 miles from my house, which means I can ride my bike to work.

    This is really the ideal situation – there’s some psychological effect to the ‘quiet zones’ between home and work when you’re moving between places. Some kind of buffer that lets you adjust better. Ideally, all neighborhoods would have some kind of building that is like a coop of shared office space for free agents and telecommuters. A place where you can get out of the house, focus on your work, and still interact with people on occasion in person.

  11. Jesse,

    I hear you, but the problem is not with the geographical location of your office (50 miles or 50 feet commute), but with a discipline. If you’d be commuting every day, you’d leave your home at 7AM ad would be back home not later than 7PM. Set up the same rule for your home office: you can’t stay there after 7PM. Period. Not even checking emails. Her majesty will love this solution.

    To make it even more official, buy yourself 5 white shirts and ties and dress up every morning when you enter your home office (pants are optional).
    At 7PM take off this freaking tie and call it a day :)

    All the best!

  12. I hear ya entirely, Jesse. I’ve been doing the work-from-home here in ATL for the better part of a year and toy with the idea of getting out-and-about about once a week.

    I totally agree w/Matt above about getting out of the house; a break in the monotony is vital.

    My boss (small CT-based company) is wanting to get an office. With me being the only one out of state such a development worries me a bit, but I’ll burn that bridge when I cross it.

  13. Well, I can’t say ‘I know what you mean’ because I love working at home and I don’t have a tv or gamebox in my bedroom.

    But, you say you want an office, so you probably do… so here are some ideas:

    –one of my collegues has a guest house (which I’ve never seen) but it sounds like a one room house outside his house. I’m not sure what your housing set up is like, but something like this might work well.

    –be careful not to spend money. Someone gave me this advice a long time ago. The thing is, there are tons of opportunities to spend money… it doesn’t mean you should. When there’s an investment that makes sense then by all means, do it.

    Good luck… it’s either going to work out for the better or the worse but you’ll never know until you try!

  14. LOL I was going to blog about this myself but I think I’ve figured out a solution for me.

    So first of all I drive 80 miles 1 way from my house to my office and I’ve been doing this for the past year so I am utterly sick of it! I

  15. I remember this well. I was freelancing from our house for a long time and I almost went crazy. I think some people can do it, and some can not. There is something to be said about breaking the two apart; being in an studio, office or whatever. It’s just nice to leave for the day so you don’t feel the temptation to turn the laptop back on again. :-)

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