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Home Office or Office Home?

My day usually starts just like that of any other person. I wake up, eat breakfast, dress up, and go to work. Nothing special, right? Except, in my case, all of these things are optional, not mandatory. When working from home, you don’t need to wake up early, or get dressed, or even go to the office. What!? Shower? Meh, maybe tomorrow. The entry barrier of going to work is low, because you’re already at work and you’re not physically meeting others.

There are many pros and cons when it comes to working from home, but some pros could be your cons and vice versa. Working from home only works well if you can find the right balance between the things that are important to you. For some, that means being surrounded by co-workers and others rather staying home being close to family. What happens when you merge these two things? Would you say you work from your home office or your office home? Well, that’s the question!

Making the Transition

When you’re new to working from home, you’ll see that the beginning has a bit of a learning curve. Your mind and body will need to adapt to this new way of flexibility and empowerment. That’s because you’re suddenly bringing your entire office life into the privacy of your home. To most of us, our home is a sacred place where we rest, play, and enjoy time with family. Even though if you have a separate working room, it will still be part of your home territory. Since you’re not physically moving away from home, the line between your work and personal life becomes thinner and thinner. As a matter a fact, the two seem to influence each other throughout your days, whether you like it or not.

We try to create separation by working from our home office, which is a separate room in the house. However, nowadays, most people have a laptop instead of a desktop computer and are not bound to working from the office room at home. You can make use of your entire house and can even work from the living room, the kitchen table, the bed, or the garden. Once you’ve reached this state of flexibility, your entire home becomes your office, which means you’ve officially entered the ‘office home’ level.

The World is Your Office

Working from home isn’t easy and there are many challenges to deal with. The empowerment doesn’t lie in working from home; it lies in being completely flexible to choice where to work from.

In the past, I’ve worked from co-working spaces, offices of other companies, the library, coffee shops, outdoors, in the car, and while traveling the world. All these things bring equal benefits to your balance and switching between locations is a healthy habit to have. The pace and frequency is up to you. Personally, I love having my home as the default working base, with the occasional change of working environment whenever I feel it’s needed. Having the power to explore what works best for you can be very motivating.

Keeping It Up

Motivation and discipline are two important factors of making working from home successful. Try finding ways that motivate you from waking up in the morning and spending most of your day at home. To me, working from home means being at the place and with people that I love the most. I enjoy having full control and flexibility on how I set up my schedule throughout the day. When I wake up, I start the first 30 minutes of my time doing something I like, for example watering my plants, playing with my son, or grabbing a bowl of granola with soy milk while reading news.

By the time I’m ready to work, I feel alive and kicking. Between work tasks, I often move around in the house to do some chores, play the guitar, or go outside for a stroll. These breaks help me to disconnect, process information and freshen up my mind when I dive back into work again.

There’s a huge difference between living alone or with family, and the distraction levels may vary depending on the number of people in your household. Be clear about your schedule to your fellow housemates and schedule breaks throughout your working day to spend time with family and friends. During these breaks, fully disconnect from work and be present to what you are doing. For me, that means either spending time with family, explore nature, or sit by the lake. That how I keep it up.

Finding the Perfect Balance

It’s often hard to find the perfect balance when you’re living and working in the same space. That said, being idle while sitting/standing and staring at a screen most of the day is far from ideal. But, not having the flexibility to choose where, when, and how to schedule your day is even worse. You’re in charge and responsibility to dealing with the power of flexibility. Your personal life will interfere with your work and the other way around. If you’re not happy in one of these, then it’s almost certain that it will affect the other.

Give each the attention it needs and being fully present in your attention is key. Also, try one of the tips below to could help bring back the balance:

  • Spend the first 30 minutes of your day doing something you love, which is not work related.

  • In the morning, write down what you will be doing today and let both your family and team know.

  • Put extra effort in making your home feel comfortable, since you’re spending most of your day there.

  • If you’re having a bad day for whatever reason, then try again later but don’t force yourself.

  • Disconnect often: go out for a walk, exercise, grab a coffee. But whenever you do, be entirely disconnected and present in what you do.

  • Add working tasks, breaks, and meetings with family/friends to your calendar. It makes it easier for you to process the switch mentally.

  • Celebrate accomplishments and let everyone know. Yay, I showered today!

In the end, it’s a matter of believing in the power of working from places where you feel most comfortable and productive, wherever and whenever that may be. Never stop experimenting with new tools, habits, exploring working environments, and changing schedules to find your perfect balance. What works for you today, might not work for you tomorrow. Stay flexible, and let both your personal and work life empower each other.

I'm based in Sweden and a Business Operations Lead at Mapillary. I've been working remotely since 2010 with great companies like Buffer, Automattic, and Lookback.

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