Since I began my journey into self-employment, I have been working out of our spare bedroom. While the ten-foot commute has certainly been convenient, it also has come with some unanticipated challenges.
Time management and motivation has been one of the biggest issues for me. It is oh-so-easy to wander out of the office and into the kitchen, to get distracted by the neighbors chatting outside my window, to get sucked into watching too many stupid YouTube videos. Sauntering into the next room just doesn’t feel like going to work, even if I *do* put on real clothes and not jammies!
It is harder to maintain a sane work/life balance when both occur in the same space – when I’m working I often feel like I should be paying attention to my family, and when I’m goofing off I feel I should be working. The boundaries are just too fuzzy.
Working at home has caused some interesting relationship and family issues. Our condo is tiny, and there is not good sound barrier between the rooms. I find it hard to focus on work when anyone else is home. My spouse would very much like there to be an occasional day when I am away and she can have the house to herself, without feeling like she has to tiptoe around me trying to work.
So, I have made a leap…right outta the house! I’ve invested in a coworking membership at the NorthBay iHub, a small business incubator located a very bike-able distance from my house. I have my own cubicle – almost as big as my office space at home – and access to conference rooms, shared equipment, etc. Plus there are other interesting people working in the space – chatting with an office mate doesn’t pose the same distraction as friends and family members, and as a consultant I’m always up for making new business connections anyway.
Coworking seems to be on the rise, as more folks freelance and start microbusinesses; it’s a great alternative to hanging out with your laptop at Starbucks! I’m hoping that it leads to new opportunities for collaboration and creativity in my worklife. Already it’s getting me dressed, out the door, and working earlier in the morning – three days in a row with not a single game of computer solitaire!
Here are some resources on coworking:
- This New York Times article gives a good overview of the phenomenon.
- The Share Exchange is another local Sonoma County coworking option.
- Other consultant friends of mine cowork at the San Francisco Bay Area Hub and the HeraHub in San Diego.