Workplace Desk

Office, Home-Office, Co-Working, or your friendly coffee shop around the corner!

The workplace is changing and we have options to work from anywhere we want these days. Many companies / corporations make it easy for us to decide where we want to work from. While some companies give their employees freedom to do whatever they like, others maintain the strict office workday etiquette or demand a minimum amount of days in the workplace.

I am a freelancer since 2003 and since 2007 self employed. Over the last ten plus years I have worked from home, worked from an office, was part of the co-working community and of course frequented many coffee shops to work from.

But what is the ideal solution?  From my point of view, none is! And here is why.

Going day-in and day-out to an office environment can be cumbersome. It starts with the commute to and from work. For some not a big deal, for others potentially hours on the road. Once you finally arrived – whether you are part of a small office environment or a large corporate office – you are and will be always subject to office politics, gossip and distractions from your actual work. There will be plenty of meetings and conference calls and by the time you have gotten around to truly getting stuff done, it’s already time to go home.

Given, many companies are working hard to enhance their workspaces, giving them an experiential makeover. Allowing for associates to swap desks (hot-desking) adding game rooms, green rooms full service cafeterias to name just a few. But it is still an office, full of noise, little to no privacy or quiet time to get inspired and creative let alone get anything achieved.

The solution for many associates is the home office. While this eliminates some of the disadvantages a regular office environment has, it poses risks you may have not thought of before signing up for it. Your commute from the bedroom by means of the coffee machine to the spare room with your office set-up is a breeze. 2 minutes tops.  Bright and early, you are ready to tackle the workload, or so you think. Since your boss or your co-workers are not permanently looking over your shoulder you may find yourself faster checking on your social media feeds, or reviewing the special offers from your preferred online retailer before trying to get anything productive done. Yet another coffee refill and a distraction by a ringing doorbell will make the first few hours fly by. And despite the conference call your boss asked you to participate in, the day is over faster than thought and the amount of work completed may not have reached what you had planned for.

Another part that many people overlook in a home office environment is the lack of social interaction. The missing colleagues you can banter or exchange ideas with, the group or team spirit you have been part off, gets very quickly lost. Yes, it is good to be away from the office for a certain amount of time, but sub-consciously, you need it.

For freelancers like me who do not necessarily have an office to go to and where the home office is a limited option, co-working spaces have found their way into urbanity within the last decade. Cool spaces shared with like-minded people are a great way to combine the flexibility of working away from a standard office or home-office, with the social interaction one needs. In most cases co-working spaces offer free Internet access, unlimited coffee/tea/water, 24-hour access to come and go as one wishes and many other perks. The downside, mostly, is the cost. Renting a fixed space can become expensive. And for many freelancers, in particular those who are in their first years of independence, this can be a deal breaker. Add to that related costs for food and transportation and you will find yourself cash strapped more often than you want to.

That leaves us with the coffee shop around the corner. Working on a laptop while sipping on a café latte in a bustling environment has its advantages. But what about when your project requires a big screen, what if you need to attend that all-important conference call? Moreover, how long will you be allowed to sit in that cushy sofa without ordering your third or fourth cup of Joe?

As you see, all of the options have a positive and negative attributes. For me, I have realized that a mix of office/co-working and home-office is the ideal solution. Any way you see it, you will need one thing for sure – the discipline to get things done. If you don’t have that, it makes no difference if you are working from home, at the office or a shared office space.