The office is dead. Long live the Office.
Some people don't use an office, and in this mobile age of consistent and constant connectivity do we still need one? Hi all you lovely people of the internets. We recently moved house. and this coincided with a change in my business activity that saw me not really having quite the same footprint in central Newcastle. So I had to decide whether it was worth keeping my office in the city. This as ever lead me to question whether I actually needed an office at all. If you listen to thought leaders and modern executives you will hear many a voice suggesting the office is dead, and in the era of home working, virtual meeting spaces and the iPad Pro there is perhaps a sound argument here.
But then again, One could also suggest that a dedicated space for work product is useful for tuning the mind into the task at hand. I myself noticed this when I was using the office space in the city. Less overt distractions and interruptions meant a higher rate of productivity. Tasks that took me 45 minutes at home (often interspersed with other pulls on my time) take perhaps 15 to 20 in a prioritised dedicated and separated environment.
So what to do?
The new house is a significantly different layout to the old, and in a stroke of inspiration that I can't take credit for my eldest teen suggested making the front room of the new house a standalone work space. In the old house the front lounge was not only part office, but also a thoroughfare from the stairs to the kitchen and the only central point to the house. In this new set up its possible to shut oneself in the office and work with no through traffic to distract or disrupt ones thought, and the telly/DVD is in another room so a bit of a win/win really. However. At the usually busy times of day theres still concurrent activity happening that requires my attention (or at least the teenagers think it does) and so interruptions occur. What to do?
The answer? Change not just where you work but when. I love productive early mornings. the cat wakes me up sometime between 0430 and 0500 and I'm usually up and at the computer, or reading etc before 6am.
Approximately 4 hours per day where I can virtually guarantee no interruptions. Particularly on weekends (ever known a teenager to surface before 10am if given the choice? No me neither)
On days where life requires me to do the early morning parent thing, Just reverse this and work into the night. Simples!
I don't want to come across all "teenagers are the problem" because obviously they aren't. Perhaps its not exclusively the interruptions here that's at play. A study by the CMI suggested sharing open plan type office space can itself lead to a drop in socialisation and productivity. (Focus?) So grabbing some alone time organise some thoughts might only be half the issue.
See the article here
The flipside boon in deploying this strategy is that actually when doing other stuff with the girls later in the day I can be fully present & not worrying about the time that I need to spend doing work stuff. It's also cheaper and more accessible than renting the separate office space, since I couldn't access my offsite office till 9am, and not at all on Sundays. So costs are reduced (by approximately £720 a year) whilst productivity and ROI on time goes up! (and no commute),
So having a home workspace that is a "work space" is still in my opinion viable, useful and for some needed. It's just that how well it works still depends very much on how YOU choose to use it.