If you’ve never done it, working from home seems like the dream – and I have to admit there can be real joy in a 20 step commute to ‘the office’, a uniform which can happily incorporate novelty pyjama bottoms, and full control of the radio dial.
But, as a semi-regular home-worker, I find it’s not always the greatest. We humans are flawed creatures; prone to distractions, loneliness and chocolate-eating.
I’m never one to actively procrastinate; I’ve truthfully never binged on box sets in work hours – I couldn’t live with the guilt or build-up of emails. But other things shift my focus from report writing and Excel spreadsheets – mainly, despairing over my messy house.
It’s true there’s no risk of distraction from work colleagues at home, and this can be a massive bonus when I need to be completely absorbed in something without any interruptions. But equally being alone for too long is rubbish. On these days, I’m so desperate for company I’ll make up reasons to call my boss and am a little too keen to make conversation with anyone/thing I come into contact with (the postman, fellow shoppers in the Co-op, Siri.)
Of course there’s an alternative, and one that seems to fix many of my issues with home working. It does require me to lose the PJs, but for some reason my productivity levels soar when I move my portable office (i.e. laptop, notepad and phone) to a cafe.
We’re lucky in Leicester to have loads of great independent coffee spots with friendly staff and fast wifi. Just before Christmas I profiled a few of these places for Great Central magazine - which you can read HERE
But, there is a small disclaimer - yes, I might have paid for a flat white, but this does not entitle me to be kept warm, connected and fully charged for a whole day. So I stand by the following:
- As a general rule, one coffee equals 60 to 90 minutes of work time. If you’re also having breakfast/lunch, you can just about push this to two hours.
- Be open to sharing your space, especially if the place is rammed. You might even make a new friend/creative collaborator.
- Don't take long phone calls if they are clearly going to be overheard and therefore annoying to everyone else. See also - use headphones when playing audio