In 2008, I left my one and only true professional office job to pursue my freelance business full time, and I swore to myself that I would NEVER EVER work in an office again. I was now free…I was free to work in my house, cafés, hotel rooms in distant lands, the beach or a park if I wanted. I would never again have fluorescent lights beating down on me while I was chained to a desk (ok, maybe there were no actual chains…but you know what I mean).
I loved it. I traveled and I worked in every place imaginable. I loved my job and I loved the freedom it gave me. So why did I try co-working? I initially tested it out as just a change of scenery to get me out of the house after my business grew to the point that I was working incredibly long hours. Here are 8 reasons why I will now never give up having an office.
1) Just because I can do my laundry during my workday, doesn’t mean I should.
Working from home has tons of benefits, don’t get me wrong. All those poor office-dwellers might glare at those who work from home when they come home from a long day at work only to start their household chores of washing dishes or doing laundry, meanwhile those of us who work from home already have these things done (maybe). Unfortunately, we might also find that we still have translation left to do instead and our deadlines loom. I wrote another blog post about FOMO (fear of missing out) and how it can destroy productivity because we lose time switching between tasks. Doing all of these household things in between work tasks might seem efficient, but it’s just another form of the same thing. The more you switch tasks, the less productive you’ll be. It’s that simple.
2) I like people.
I know not everyone can relate to this, but I’m not a fan of being alone. I like having people around me and I used to work (and I use that term loosely) in cafés for this reason. Unfortunately, many cafés tend to have lots of noise, unreliable internet, small tables and it’s easy to overstay your welcome before you get all that much done. Working in a co-working spaces gives me lightning-fast internet, a nice large desk and comfortable chair, a conference room if I need it, and the ability to be around people without having them constantly distract me (no, I don’t want to hear about your night…I’m trying to work!).
3) I can be lazy.
Yup, it’s true. I coach people on how to be productive, and yet, I said it…I can be lazy. But you know what? We all can. It’s just a matter of knowing yourself, leveraging your strengths and managing your weaknesses. Just like you (maybe) I can be tempted by the new seasons of Orange is the New Black when it comes to choosing between watching TV or accomplishing something I don’t want to do (let’s face it, Netflix is the clear winner when compared to invoicing). Working in an office means I have to drive 20 minutes to my house to lay on my couch and watch TV or, alternatively, feel incredibly awkward as I sit at my desk…in an office…watching Netflix while everyone around me is working. Plus, once I get home, I won’t have my giant monitors any more, which I leave at my office for this very purpose.
4) Other people following their dreams inspire me.
I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. Unlike the office where I worked for someone else as their employee, co-working spaces are filled with people pursuing their dreams. Most are self-employed individuals who left the world of a regular paycheck to pursue their own dream instead of someone else’s. On those days where I’m just having a bad day, end up working FAR later than I thought I would, or just feel down, I look around and see all of these other people, motivated, ambitious, making their dreams happen and I think to myself “if they can do it, I can do it.” And I am filled with renewed inspiration for what we do as translators and interpreters. I’d love to say my 2 feline co-workers at home can do the same…but they mostly just yell at me for food.
5) It’s the ultimate way to batch your tasks.
If I had to pick one piece of advice to give busy (and even not-so-busy) translators to improve their workflow, productivity and work-life balance it would be this: batch everything. Anticlimactic? It all goes back to the time lost when switching tasks. If you’ve attended my Productivity in Translation webinar, you know how important it is to be aware of where your time is going and how our bodies can easily register a 14-hour workday even though we might only have been truly working for 5 hours and perhaps of that only actually generating income (i.e., translating or interpreting) for 3. It happens. Working in an office means that I work as efficiently as possible to get every task I have set for myself done and then I can go home and enjoy my evening…NOT working. And that brings me to my next reason.
6) It creates a work-life balance despite long hours.
When I launched the Success by Rx program in February, I had no idea how much my work life would change. I had built my translation business to the point that I was translating roughly 4 hours a day…by noon my workday was essentially finished. Suddenly, I found myself working 14-hour days again between webinars and creating content, technical issues, and more. I loved what I was doing but I would go multiple days without ever leaving my house. Not good. Having boundaries can be very difficult when you work from home…especially if you find yourself working long hours. Now, I have set a boundary for myself to not check e-mail outside of work hours (provided there’s no emergency situation to be monitored) and between working efficiently while at my office and this boundary, I find that I now have the ability to be completely off work. Before this, even though I wasn’t working 24/7, it certainly felt like it. I still work long hours, and I still occasionally work from home, but by far I am happier, saner, and healthier.
7) I have a physical location.
If you work with direct clients, this can be an awkward thing to explain. Sometimes they don’t understand that they can’t drop off their documents to you or stop by and talk to you in person. Many people still see virtual businesses as ripe for scams (and, let’s be honest, we know there are many translation scams out there). Having a physical location allows me to meet clients in my office, receive mail and have a more professional presence for my business. It’s yet another way that I can prove to potential clients that I deserve to be taken seriously as a business.
8) I get the best of both worlds.
I’m not sure why I didn’t realize this relatively obvious aspect before, but I’ve finally realized that just because I have an office, doesn’t mean I have to go there. I’m still my own boss…I still make my own hours and decisions. Even in the time since I have had my office, I’ve had at least one entire week where I didn’t feel like going to an office…and I can do that. I still travel and work from those locations. I still have the freedom to work anywhere. Having an office doesn’t mean giving up that freedom…and I can’t see myself ever giving that up. It just means that when I’m in town, I have a place to go and work that inspires, encourages, supports and fulfills me.
Have you ever tried co-working? Share your experience in the comments!