Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Where's Your Desk?

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Last summer, when I moved from my full-time position with Free People to working for Etsy, I also made the transition from commuting to an office five days a week to working from home 75% of the time. When you're schlepping your stuff to and from your workplace every day, it's easy to romanticize that work from home life. Reading emails in your PJs and taking meetings from your couch -- it sounds dreamy. In reality though, the transition can be far more challenging. Turns out, working in your jammies isn't all it's cracked up to be -- even a nice pair of yoga pants will leave you feeling inhuman if you're not careful.

It's taken me awhile to get in the swing of things and form a routine. And even now, months later, I find I still need to make tweaks here and there to keep myself accountable and on-task. One aspect that's been the most difficult to deal with is not having a dedicated workspace. I typically post up at our kitchen island and occasionally sit on the couch if I'm working on a specific type of task, and if I need an escape, or you know, to be around other living, breathing humans, I'll go to the cafe down the block. Otherwise I don't have my own desk, no home office to speak of. This is something I've been thinking of recently - if I did have a dedicated home office space, would I use it? Would it make any difference in the way I work? When we lived in Pittsburgh we had an extra bedroom in both apartments we lived in that pretty much became storage rooms -- but at the same time, I'm now working from home most of the time. Our current apartment doesn't lend the space for a dedicated workspace, and I'd prefer not to move... but I can't help but feel as though I'd benefit from a home office (especially when Zephyr does his 3pm rounds for food).

This line of self-questioning has lead me to wonder where other remote workers call "home". Do you have a desk? A separate office space? Do you work from your couch in your PJs and love it? I'd love to know -- what works for you?

13 comments:

Sara Clarke said...

I've been working remotely for going on four years. I have a desk in my bedroom and a desk in a common area of the house (not living oom, but like an open den). I usually work in the open space, but the key for me is breaking down my computer and work papers and putting them away every night, and conversely setting them up each morning. Still working on wearing real clothes, though.

Frauke Dokic said...

My husband is a freelance animator and we live in a two-room-apartment (kitchen, floors and bathroom not included, you only count bedrooms and living rooms here in Germany) as rents in Düsseldorf are extremely pricey. He just sets up all his gear on our dining table, so I totally get what you’re saying! Well, we lost our dining space (we usually eat in bed anyway, shame on us!!) but we live like that for years now and we are absolutely fine with this situation! As a creative person myself I have my desk in a corner of our bedroom, so we all have our personal space. We try to not compare with others, especially because most of our friends are house owners. We are happy in our small apartment and it’s a good proof, that it all falls into place, if you don’t stress about it too much! =)

Bianka said...

As a commuting PhD-student and part-time bookstore employee, I work from home 2 days a week. In my small apartment, my desk is right next to my sofa, which is the worst place it could be since I'm always tempted to lounge around instead of sitting and working. If I need to buckle down, I usually take the trip to the library or a coffee shop to get work done because at home, I always feel like there's something else to do or a new show to watch...

Orchid Grey said...

@SaraClarke - Oh I love the idea of having two dedicated workspaces. And yes, absolutely agree that shutting everything down intentionally at the end of the day is KEY. Now that it's a little warmer outside, I'm more apt to actually get dressed, over the winter it was all yoga pants all the time!

Orchid Grey said...

@Frauke Dokic - SOunds like you both figured out a great way to work! On the one hand I like working form anywhere, but sometimes I do wish I had a headquarters. I love our smaller space, too :)

Orchid Grey said...

@Bianka - I'm a firm believer in the power of the library/coffee shop! Whenever I feel myself "circling the drain", so to speak, I decamp to a new location, which always seems to help :)

Victoria said...

I found having my own quiet office space was nice, especially when I wanted to work without any distractions. But I can't work in one spot for too long or else it starts to feel too routiney and I lose inspiration so I change up my workspace quite often. A couple days at my desk, then at the kitchen table, on the couch, at a coffee shop. :)

Laura Elizabeth said...

I just started working from home full time a year ago and did not anticipate how challenging it is! I was having a hard time until I made a set schedule. I work from 8 - 5 and take an hour yoga break in the middle to help my body relax and ease tension. I basically refuse to check my email before or after those hours or on weekends. I disengaged work email on my phone to help me turn it all off. :) It's helped SO much but man that was hard!

I recently started having a lot of pain and weird muscle tension in my right hand/arm/shoulder from hours of scrolling on a tiny MacBook working from bed and no mouse. Over the last month, I knew I had to make changes to actually enjoy what I'm doing so we bought a small desk and an iMac (found on Craigslist) and got one of those weird looking mouses with the trackball to keep over extending my wrist/fingers. Y'all, I even bought a wrist brace to combat carpal tunnel. I also really amped up my vitamin D intake. We live in Portland and the rainy days inside can make you batty and we're in a one bedroom space so my office is now the dining room and part of the living room is now the dining area. It works! I also started meditating every morning before 'logging on' and have an hour break in the middle of the day to take a walk or go to a yoga class. It's been a lifesaver. Love seeing everybody else's tips!!!

--Laura

TaNuja said...

I work from home and have a tiny local local business. I just have corner of my room as my working space. I have decorated it with all the positivity :)


Great post!

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Chaucee said...

I went from working at an agency office for 2.5 years to working from home in the beginning of 2016 and the transition was definitely harder than I thought it would be. I definitely romanticized the work from home life before, but I found myself feeling lonely and disconnected. The first three to four months were the hardest, but once I started setting into my new job and my new routine, I absolutely love it now. I believe that working from home has made for the happiest work environment for myself. I thrive creatively, professionally and personally working from home. I have no desire to go back to an office ever haha.

My "home office" setup is a little different. I own my own home, and my bedroom is the entire third floor so it's pretty large. I have a reading corner, my bed, and a carved out nook for my office. I work from there 95% of the time because it's where my large screen iMac is, and I do a lot of photography and design work so I like having the large screen. Plus it's right by the window (love that natural light) and all my other work/office supplies are at my desk. I sometimes work in the kitchen or in the basement (I have this awesome coffee table where the top rises up into desk height).

Orchid Grey said...

@Victoria - Completely agree, I can't stay in one place for too long or else I get antsy and unproductive.

Emily Fleck said...

Julie, I took a 66% pay cut to stop working from home. I had a big-shot title and lots of glamorous (exhausting) international travel but working from home, alone, without ANY form of human interaction was torture. If I'd had colleagues to interact with multiple times a day for collaboration and such it would have been a little better, but it's not for me. Now I work at a brewery and I don't use my brain as hard as I used to, but wow do I LOVE having coworkers again.

Frank George said...

I have found that working in one's pajamas is entirely overrated. Personally, I need the routine and I have to be dressed in business casual. I tried working from my back deck once but found that I was constantly distracted by sounds in the neigborhood. A bird here, a garbage truck there, and a few airplanes screeching overhead sent me scrambling for my desk.

Frank George @ Dutch Hollow Supplies

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