How can you know if you agree with me or not right from the get-go? — you have worked from home in the past. For those of you out there who think about doing it or about to, use my experience merely as another perspective.
I started working from home in 2012. i dreamed about it since i was 18. the thing for me was that i liked my home so much! it has all my collectibles, my personal belongings, my vibes — it has me in all my colors. i always knew that if i worked from home i would setup such a sweet killer work station and work environment that it will be just awesome, but you see here lies some of the reasons why it will NOT work.
it’s too much “me”, another me.
I always like to start with describing how i define terms, even common ones, so you’ll be able to get a better angle of the what and why i did and how i see things.
What is home? Naturally and objectively speaking, home is where you should feel most comfortable, hence “feels like home”. It’s where your true self exists, where you allow yourself to do things maybe you’d prefer no one sees, where you make love and raise a family. It’s your indoor haven. as Dr. Sheldon Cooper says it so well “if outdoors is so great, why did mankind spent thousands of years perfecting indoors?” i perfected my indoors that’s for damn sure. Let’s say that the home-you is your indoors-you.
What is work? Work is where you fulfill yourself in the eye of everyone else. It doesn't matter if you’re a millennial, X’ers, S’ers (Seniors, look it up its new), the same rules apply, almost all of us see what we do as another version of ourselves. The cliche example i can give here is the fully tattooed Harley dude who is a heart surgeon (personally met that dude). Work is work, make it about the work, always. That would make the work-you the outdoors-you.
Why they can’t be mixed? For those two identities, your work-you and your home-you — its hard to coexist in the same physical space. Imagine how much, the way our work environment is arranged and designed, and what it contains which affects how productive we are. Supplement that with the fact that your brain might have a hard time distinguishing between the two “you’s” if it sees the same environment (work and home, indoors and outdoors) although it’s expected to behave differently. Example, if i had an annoying call with a client and 30 minutes later, my wife comes home with the kid, i was unjustifiably edgier and slightly hostile towards her (for that, my dear wifey, i truly apologized (and have before)), i understand now that it was because i didn't separate my work-me and my home-me. and there, right there — is the beginning if what i later came to realize — you c̶a̶n̶’̶t̶ shouldn’t work from home.
When it seems like everything is working, is when you stop paying attention
It worked. i can’t say it didn't. for the past 5 years, i’ve worked on >100 projects plus was involved in many endeavours, startups, companies, gigs and what not, but it created an illusion, illusion of control.
Maybe its just me, and maybe i wasn't good enough at working from home, but even when i closed big opportunities, i still felt like i’m losing something in the convenience of things. Because you don’t have a normal day routine, and you don’t interact with people around the cooler, you forget the little things that move people and as a result — businesses. Those little things slowly and quietly build up to losing control and losing a guideline, and eventually you’re missing out on how be productive and improve. To me the thing that bugged the most was when i went to meetings in company HQs, WeWork, Labs, home-offices, etc. (not coffee shops), i got the notion that everybody is working but me. And not only that, everyone was working way better and harder than me, it seemed like they mastered how to run a business and there were hundreds if not thousands of them!
Admitting the problem is always the first step towards taking action (unless you’re chicken-sh!t)
So i knew something wasn’t working, yet back then i was still full of excuses for why working from home is right for me.
Here are a few of them:
I am better focused at home
I have my vibe at home
It’s what i’ve known for ~5 years
It has a (short) history of doing amazing and creative stuff
Technically, it generated pretty good revenues
I know what i can achieve in 2 hours, what the hell am i going to do 9+ hours at the office?!
I choose what to do. On occasional good productivity days, you can Netflix n’ chill
The house was super maintained and super organized. i literally noticed every little dent, crack, paint-chip, etc. and i fixed it
You get the idea. Tons of bullshit ideas that i came to get so acquainted and familiar with because i was always there, always home. Yes, let’s face it, when you get curled up at your home/home-office you start kind of not waning to get out, nothing wrong with that, right? well, actually something is wrong with that — humans are social beings-accept that.
Stating the choice out loud and being proactive
we all have that thing, or someone, or something that helps us through decision-making, especially ones that we already made but we need to get out (because we’re change-fearing individuals who need external motivation at times). It can be something majestic or huge, for me its a bit obvious — my wife. At this point feel free to quote me “the woman is right every time!”, but that’s not the point, the point was when we talked about it and she said that i should definitely invest and get some office space to stop working from home — that was when i actually took the phone and made the call. Again, I knew exactly who I am going to call and where it’ll be, this is a decision which was well brewed at the time (shout out to Yael Kochman)
For the first few days i just showed up for ~4–5 hours and then made sure i had meetings or just went home and continued there. I was a bit shy to be honest, and thats why i specifically chose a desk in the open area of the place (it’s called Re:Tech and its the best place in the city for office space). The reason i wanted an open space is because i wanted to get used to working with other people around me or passing by me. After the quietness of my home office (if you dont count the music playing — always music playing when working from home), i wanted to get used to people coming to me, asking me stuff, calling me for coffee breaks, etc. and you know what, it happened and it did exactly what i hoped it would do. Bare in mind that i have worked for over 10 years for corporates, and 6 at one of the (back then) flagships of the Israeli high-tech scene, so i had a pretty good idea of what i was looking for in these interactions but still, it’s been some time since i was at a full office full with people all the time. Then the brainstorming sessions invites came in, the lectures, the ad-hoc heated product discussions in the kitchen and even the occasional roof chill 😎 — but all that didn't happen in the first few weeks.
For the first 2 weeks i felt something happening but it wasn't there yet, something was missing — I haven’t yet moved ALL my home office to the new place yet. Don’t know why, maybe its my everlasting sense of tiny denials, but it dawned on me one Saturday morning, how much great it would be to move all my stuff and equipment to the new office and utilize that space for a new creativity station for my 4 year old daughter. You know what, it was that tiny excuse i needed — its for my daughter, always works. The next day, i strapped it all, organized, folded and packed it, setup my new familiar workstation (just for kicks, i’m using this), and then i knew it — i’m committed.
What happened after…
Well, simply put, i felt more comfortable working long days, and by long i mean more productive and less nervous, and i knew that i am now in work-mode and this is my work-me, the outdoors-me.
Here’s some other stuff that happened:
I felt more comfortable “wasting time” with other people in casual chit-chats
I enjoyed a real lunch break
I felt good inviting people to a real meeting room and not a coffee shop or restaurant
I had a much clearer seperation of work and home time
I snooze all emails arriving after a certain hour (expect from the core team) to the day after
I felt more professional
I looked forward to getting to the office and shred tasks
I felt good saying i now have an office
I kind of felt that i need to work extra hard to accommodate the new expense (rent) but it was much easier than i thought
I get it, its awesome working from home, and for the record, i will always have some home-office which is organized and fully equipped to work but for now i need the clear seperation until i learn to restore the balance again.
Feel free to offer your perspective :)