Lots of people love the idea of working from home.   With the daily 9-5 routine at a corporate cubicle, the luxury of working from home on your own business definitely represents “greener grass.”  Well, before you decide to do it, you may want to hear my story. This story will also apply to those who are “working” from home to look for a job.

I have been working from home for the last two months, at least in my situation, it has not been super easy or productive.  I finished my corporate contract at the end of last year and decided to take some time off from corporate life.   I am using this time to put more sales effort towards our small business, a performance marketing agency, RWO Marketing, continue career coaching, and spend more time with my 3 years old daughter.

It sounds amazing, but having to do it from home has been a real challenge.    I ended up maybe able to work for about 2 hours a day if I am lucky.    Here is why

  • Lack of routine or discipline to stick to one – No one expect to see me at 8:30am in the morning, so I am starting to sleep in later.  I established a routine to spend time with my daughter first after I get up, so work ends up to not start until 11am or later – interrupted quickly by the need for lunch.
  • Many temptations within 10 feet –  TV (I will just watch one show while I am eating lunch), bed (oh I feel so tired today and it’s raining out, maybe I should take a nap so I am more clear headed),  etc..  Does it sound familiar?
  • Personal To Do’s are everywhere calling to me – Mail needs to be opened and bills needs to be paid (I should do that before I forgot.  It’s tax season.  I better prepare for that…)  You get the idea and soon enough I am blending work stuff with personal stuff while I am on the computer.  Not productive since it usually takes me 10  to 15 minutes to really focus in on what I am doing.  If I keep changing from work to personal and back to work, my brain never really gears in
  • My daughter wants to play – Kids don’t have any concepts of work time vs. playtime, nor should they.  While my nanny tries to get Isabel out of the house for a few hours, when she is back, she wants to play with mommy.  When I tell her I am working, she says okay and then 5 minutes later ask me if I am done.  It’s super cute but distracting
  • No co-workers – You may think finally I have no noise from others around me, I can focus.  Well, actually we get a lot productive energy from others who work near us.  Also, I miss the adult conversations that I used to have at breaks or during meetings with others.  Too much silence and isolation is also not productive.

So what am I going to do about it?  Well, I have tried to go to cafes to work.  That has been okay, but since I am usually drinking tea or coffee at a cafe, I end up going to the bathroom a lot (and I have to take my stuff – computer, power cord with you).  I have not completely given up on it – need to try to ask people to look after my stuff and step away.  Still it’s awkward and the energy around me is mixed.  Most are not working at the cafe but socializing and relaxing.

Now, I am trying a new approach.  A friend recommended a shared work space location in downtown SF called NextSpace.  I am sitting here right now trying it out with my free day pass.  So far, it got all the elements of a good work space (wi-fi, instant co-workers, separation from my personal life).  I have been able to leave my stuff and grab free tea, water, and take breaks.   The only catch is it costs – about $20 a day, $175 for a 10 day pass or $285 for unlimited use per month.  It’s not a lot for SF, but my dilemma now is should I spend the money if I am not yet generating income.    Most likely my answer will be yes as it’s only been an hour and I finally wrote this post that has been in my head for the last two weeks.  Besides, time is money and I am wasting valuable time at home.  If I can put in a good 5 to 6 hours here, then I will have better quality time with my daughter at home.

I share this story with you because I don’t think i am alone in feeling this way.   If you are looking for a job and has been unsuccessful doing it from home, perhaps one answer is get out of the house.  Time is your enemy – the longer you are out of work the harder it may be to find work, so perhaps paying for a shared work space is worth it.  You may even get a job from one of your “co-workers.”  Click here for a descriptions of the members of NextSpace.  If you are doing your own business, then it also makes sense to get out of the house.  This way you can network with others, put in a days work and go home to relax and have some separation.

If you live in SF and want to try NextSpace, tell them I sent you.  You will get a free day pass to try it and then $50 off the first month you become a member.  Here is to more productivity and work life balance.   Good luck out there!

Lei

3 Thoughts on “Working from Home Sucks

  1. Russell on March 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm said:

    There also seems to be sort of a culling of shared workspaces in San Francisco, too… Citizen Space (down the road) didn’t renew their lease and other places have low membership.

    I’ve explored other options… cafes, a real estate agency (Regus– they have lots of different options in different locations based on your needs), and even the library. I would’ve stuck with the library, but I need to be on the phone a few times per day for the job and that got really annoying.

    The trickiest part, in my opinion, is justifying the cost of NextSpace’s cafe membership. The obvious benefits are networking, professional atmosphere, and free coffee/tea, but is it really worth $235/month over the library? It seems like if you’re going to have a shared workspace, you’d at least want your own desk… and that’s significantly more expensive…

    The choice was a little easier for me since my company is footing the bill 🙂

    If you’re going to do shared workspaces, I doubt you can do better than NextSpace. Everyone here is friendly, helpful, and it’s the only workspace I know that has a happy hour on Fridays!

  2. Moran on March 3, 2011 at 11:07 am said:

    No, you’re not alone for sure….

    I’ve worked for home for a year and completely agree. It sounds super nice but hard to keep everything under control and concentrate. I can tell you that with time you find your method and it becomes very effective and efficient.
    In an office – you take a lot of social breaks (coffee, cooler talks, small talks) which are great but takes time. At home I learned to be very strict with myself. When it’s working time – it’s working time. And usually discovered that I can be more focused and do things faster. which was great. Not to mention that commute time you save/ parking, buying lunch/ coffee throughout a work day.. etc.
    I was also thinking about coffee shops but it didn’t work for me (didn’t feel like spending money on tea, when i have it “free” at home)
    What I found that worked well for me was to wake up at the same time i would wake up if going to an office, jump in the shower and get dressed. then i would dedicate an hour/ hour and a half to personal things (including facebooking answering personal emails, bills etc) then I would close all these tabs and put everything besides work aside till lunch time. i would clear more time for personal things after lunch and once again restrict myself to this time frame. For me it worked…

    Regarding shared spaces in SF, I would like to recommend checking the prices of 2 more that i’ve seen: pier 38, parisoma, somacentral. Great solution – just a matter of budget…. 🙂

    Good luck!

    • Lei Han on March 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm said:

      Moran, thanks so much for sharing your story and the additional places in SF that offers co-working space. I thinking whether someone needs to find a work space outside of home is entirely a personal choice. I am so glad you found a way to make it work at home – “free” is always a great benefit. For my situation, it’s been hard to separate personal from work as a big part of my personal interruption is my daughter. I don’t want to ask her to stay in her room or stay away from our apt. She does not follow work time rules and since my home office space is the kitchen table, it’s hard to avoid her cute interruptions. With that said, I applaud anyone who could make it work and appreciate the discipline it takes.

      I also agree that someone should consider the downside of working out of home – commute time, distraction from co-workers, etc…. Luckily for me, NextSpace is on 2nd street and market – a 8 min bus ride or 15 min walk, also right next to my gym (Crunch) which I go to twice a week, and close to most lunch meetings I have. I also think it’s important to try a space before committing. I don’t want any chatty co-workers. I was actually shocked at how quiet NextSpace was. Everyone was so focused on their own stuff that it made me want to be more productive. I am not sure that would be the case for every place though.

      I did google the following places you mentioned – NextSpace works best for me but this may help others:
      pier 38 (couldn’t find any pricing info but I know a lot of start ups work there) – great location by the ball park
      parisoma – looks to have large space and comparable rate $275 per month – in soma at 11th street. good option for anyone close to there
      somacentral – seems pricier at $550 per month for 1 and goes down if you have more people
      Sandbox Suites – comparable price $295 per month in location in SOMA and unique square.

      – Lei

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