Finding a New Way of Working

My new office

My new office

For the whole of this century I have had a “9-5″ sort of job; with an office, a boss, a hierarchy, colleagues, a desk, meetings, monthly salary and annual reviews. It wasn’t as tightly regimented as that sounds, I could work from home if I wanted, and I certainly did work beyond the 9-5 Monday to Friday hours set out in my contract.

All that changed in December and now I’m trying to write something useful about Enterprise Social Networks; at home, alone, no boss, no salary and no colleagues.

There are some things about this that are liberating, some things that are challenging, and some things that I just didn’t think about.

In the liberating category;

  • I don’t have to wear corporate attire; I’m back to my student days of living in jeans or pyjamas.
  • I don’t have masses of meetings every day; in fact at the moment I have only three meetings scheduled and two of them are lunch meetings.
  • It’s quiet; quiet enough to think, there are no workplace distractions. Noise has long been thought a productivity killer.
  • It’s always coffee time; there are dozen good places for coffee within walking distance
  • I can organise my own time; sunny day? take a walk in the park, new exhibition on? go today and avoid the weekend crowds

In the challenging category;

  • Finding a routine; having an office job imposes a routine, your work hours, lunch breaks and certain meetings are regular and somewhat immovable. Your weekends are your own. My work now is research and writing, which is very different. I’m working on finding a routine that is productive and sustainable. I’ll get there
distracting tweet

A former colleague helps me through the day

  • Home Distractions; OK the work distractions are out of the way, but there are others, the TV, more websites. I spent an hour booking some travel and tickets yesterday – I’d never have done that in work time. But now there is no artificial barrier of work time – it’s all “my time” and I have to choose how to use it.
  • It’s quiet; I’m not used to that, so I break up the day with a writing session in a cafe nearby. Turns out some ambient noise helps productivity.
  • It’s a little bit lonely; I was in a busy office, with hundreds of colleagues around me. I didn’t realise how much I got out of the social dynamic of work. I am replacing some of that online (easy for me, I was used to using our enterprise social network), and I’ll start working in a workspace a couple of times a week with some very smart people.

I didn’t think about this;

  • What’s for lunch? In the office lunch was a team thing most days, there was a range of food in the office cafeteria and several cafes nearby. Now I’m at home, it sounds weird but I hadn’t really given much thought to what I want to have for lunch in ages.
  • Weekends are for… I used to keep a mental list of errands to do in the weekend, if I cam across something during the week I would add it to the list. After decades of work that’s been a hard habit to break!

I did spend some time sorting out a good workspace – it’s functional, gets good light, is personalised and can easily be varied so I’m scoring well on the list of requirements for a home office in this recent Fast Company article. I do need an ergonomic chair though.

I am killing those onscreen distractions – so facebook/twitter/pinterest/email etc are all off while I’m writing. Other people have figured this out before me, there are lots of ideas online that have been really helpful.

Now, back to work, once I’ve finished this coffee.

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About Louise McGregor

I write about digital strategy, the changing online world, communication challenges and real life leadership. I work at the intersection of communications, technology and business and part of my job is to stimulate the adoption of new technologies in a way that makes business sense.
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4 Responses to Finding a New Way of Working

  1. I, too, find I sometimes need the hustle and bustle of a café to get the juices flowing! Glad you’re working out your routine. If you’re anything like me, you’ll settle into working at home and then it will seem almost impossible ever to go back…

  2. Ernie van der Meer says:

    Hi Louise, If you are looking for (ergonomic) furniture, don’t forget to have a look at places selling second hand office furniture. I bought a good quality chair together with a desk for around 250 euros. They usually have hundreds of chairs in stock, so you may have to rummage around a bit for a good one, but it’s well worth it. A good chair alone will set you back 800 or more if bought new.

  3. That’s a good suggestion Ernie – I will keep an eye out.

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