Farewell, working from home

This is me in the foyer of the Offbeat Empire's former office… aka the stairwell of my home. Photo by Jenny Jimenez for Tugboat Yards.
This is me in the foyer of the Offbeat Empire's former office… aka the stairwell of my home. Photo by Jenny Jimenez for Tugboat Yards.

Since November 2009, my primary workplace has been a corner of the 1-bedroom condo I share with my husband, son, and small dog. Yes, I've coworked in a shared office once a week or so since 2010, but 90% of my work for the Empire has been done from a wall of a bedroom. In many ways, working from home was a tremendous blessing — with a newborn, it was easy to work weird hours. With an infant, it made sense to keep my leaking boobs close to the nursing baby. Through my son's waddlerhood and toddlerhood, it made a lot of sense to be working from home to allow quick kiddo hand-offs with my husband who might come and go from teaching three classes a day… we handed parenting duties back and forth all day, every day. I saved a shitload of resources by working from home, spending zero cash on rent and zero time on commuting… all while slowly but surely losing my fucking mind.

Yeah, I said it.

Offbeat Empire HQ

Five years after I started working from home, here we are in 2014. Five years later, I am SO FUCKING SICK OF BEING STUCK IN MY HOUSE. My son is almost five and happily kicking ass in preschool. I, meanwhile, have forgotten how to have conversations during daylight hours with adults. Desk-sharing with a 4-year-old is a hard way to get your work done. I've also started making large business decisions based on the question "Does this get me out of my house and talking to people?" When I am actually out working with people face to face, I might be a little too touchy. "OH GREAT IDEA," I say, touching the idea-haver's elbow with my hand, and gasping internally omg omg omg real person live in the flesh instead of words on a screen. It's not normal, you guys.

For these reasons (and so many more) I am SO EXCITED to be exporting my work brain to a place occupied by adults. Starting last week, I've got a full-time desk at the new coworking space upstairs/behind Ada's Technical Books. See this picture? This is the one and only time my son will ever desk-share with me at Ada's:

Touring the new office and testing out my new desk. Love ya Tavi but real happy to not be sharing a desk with you any more. WFH BEGONE.

This is a win in so many ways, the biggest of which being that it's only a few blocks from my house, which means that I can still work my somewhat unusual hours. Today, for instance, I'm working from 7am – 11am, then going home for lunch with my kid while my husband works, then heading back in for a second round of work from 2-6. Last week, I had some editing work I needed to hammer out at 9pm, so I took the dog for a quick evening stroll, smiled at all the diners on my beloved 15th Avenue, tucked into the office for an hour, and then walked back home.

Ada's

Separation of church and state, you guys. Of course I still have a laptop at home, but my primary work machine is permanently waiting for me AT WORK and when I want to do work that's more than just answering a single email, I GO TO WORK. I am so stoked not to have to worry about snapping at my husband when he asks me about groceries when I'm trying to file a bug with my developer. I'm so relieved to have a little bit more division between my "me time" and my "work time." I mean, I love work and of course I'll still do bits of work from home from my phone and crappy laptop… but my primary machine will be a four-block walk away. It's kind of like how my mom stashes her weed in the woods so she has to go for a walk to have a smoke. Sometimes we all need just a little distance from our fixes, you know?

And lookit me! Out in the world! Around adults instead of small creatures like a 50-pound kid or a 14-pound dog. It's amazing! Oh and Seattleites: if you ever find yourself at Ada's for a book or a bite, feel free to @reply me to Twitter to see if I'm working upstairs. I'll come say hi and touch your elbow.

  1. Yay! I totally understand the appeal of working from home but seriously, I couldn't do it. I love having an office (or at least work space). I like some forced time around other people. I like getting dressed in work clothes (which does include jeans for me but is more office casual than super casual). I like having a proper space for work that doesn't let me be distracted by laundry or pets or making a snack in the kitchen.

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  2. I've been working from home for — oh god where did the time go — 12+ years now. I would go nuts if I couldn't return to our home office once a month. I'm a lot more introverted than you but even I play the "overly enthusiastic coworker" game once in a while!
    Congrats on finding what may be the happy medium.

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  3. I've done both & I love both – esp. when I can work from home some & from work some. Totally agree with you on the separation of church & state. Sounds like you finally got a good setup, congrats!

  4. Oh yeah. I've worked at home, been an online student from home, and just been a SAHM at varying times, and I can always tell when I'm starting to lose it by how chatty I suddenly become with cashiers, etc., who are unfortunately trapped and required to hide their irritation. Fortunately I usually notice this after a couple of incidents (I think), and try to chill. After having a good chuckle at myself.

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  5. I worked from home as a tobacco cessation counselor over the phone, and knew I had to quit when I started calling in sick a bunch. You know you hate your job when you can't get out of bed to work five feet away on your recliner 🙂 I definitely missed being around people!!

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  6. Yes! It's the constant interruptions with "where's my blue shirt?" and "can you come downstairs and feed the dog?" crap that drives me crazy! I mean, if I was working at the restaurant (where I work my 'real' job as a pastry chef), would my husband call me & say "please come home and find my blue shirt"? Of course not! But when I try to tell him that when I am upstairs in my studio, I am at work & please respect that by not interrupting, the darling man just does NOT get it! Grrrrr!

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  7. This is really awesome! I only work from home part time, and even that sometimes makes me feel a little crazy. On the 1 day a week I work just from home, I practically bombard my boyfriend when he walks in the door. It's weird when I realize I haven't spoken out loud the entire day, haha. This sounds like a fantastic set-up! Congrats!! 😀

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  8. This all sounds like a fab plan on your part, and that looks like a fabulous space to work in!
    I still sadly have to go in to work everyday, but I've managed to score myself a desk in the perfect spot for me – directly in general foot traffic so people can come and talk to me and I get my requisite amount of "good morning!"s in, and far enough away from the rest of my actual department that they can't bug me for every little thing and I can stick my headphones on and churn through the work most of the day. It's amazing what a little bit of distance from things/people can do, and I hope yours works out for you!

  9. Two years ago I was working from home. Then a lot of things happened and I found myself in another country, separated, under a mountain of debt and just holding it together in an old profession. It took a lot of help from some very good people but I now adore my job combining both previous professions, get paid more than fairly for it and am loving existence. Not least because I was just able to spend five minutes discussing the relative merits (with illustrations) of strapless strap-ons then head upstairs and spend five minutes writing an email arguing the merits of spending £10k on fancy new kit while trying desperately not to think about the other kit….

    But without that dramatic upheaval in my life I'm not sure I ever would have realised how detrimental working, almost solely, from home was for me. Besides the touchy-feely compulsion (for me, bouncing into the office once every two weeks), how do you get hindsight in the present to help understand what working patterns are best for you?

    • Besides the touchy-feely compulsion (for me, bouncing into the office once every two weeks), how do you get hindsight in the present to help understand what working patterns are best for you?

      A critical moment for me was realizing that when I was talking to friends about their jobs, I was feeling envious when they described certain things… things that basically boiled down to "I leave the house and interact with people." I tried to examine my envy and see what it was that I was really wanting. By picking apart the threads of my own envy, I was able to see that the "perfect" job I had crafted for myself (working from home! no commute! work in sweats!) actually wasn't fitting my current needs.

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  10. Ariel, I can soo relate to this. I have gone from having a realtor/prop manager job with high people interaction to starting my new floral business from home Fab Floral. I love it that we have the resources in our lives at this time to let me go for it, but the isolation is killing me!!! I'm in Snoqualmie and am working on gettting my vendor listing together for your site. I would love to come meet you and pick your brain about coming up with a listing that will really resonate with off beat brides even though I don't have any pics yet for offbeat work. Lots of traditional bridal work, but nothing really different.

  11. I work from home…where my children are…which means a lot of late nights and nap working. It's not ideal. My area doesn't seem to have any office sharing places but oh, I'm dreaming of seeing other adults. So I'm asking, how was your first week?? Was it amazing?

  12. Congrats! I find working from home so challenging, and I don't even have kids. I like a workplace with some flexibility (when you're sick enough you don't want to go in to work, but not so sick you can't do your work, it's really nice to be able to work from home), but I find it challenging and annoying to work from home mostly.

  13. I think I need to do this! This is my 3rd year of working out of my home and if you don't get out you slowly go insane! I had a few part time employees which really helped but currently it's just "me, myself and I."

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