How a shared space changed my life
Erin Reilly says she has become a better mum and worker because of the physical and mental separation of home and work.
I still remember the first day I officially worked from home.
I’d just dropped my husband off at the bus station, and as I walked back up the stairs to our one-bedroom apartment I started freaking out. What was I doing? What would I fill my days with? What if I failed?
Initially working from home was great. I did find work, and I had plenty to fill my days with. But I wasn’t prepared for one emotion to slap me in the face quite as abruptly as it did: loneliness.
Working from home has its benefits. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to get changed out of your pyjamas. You can take breaks whenever you want. You can say ‘‘yes’’ to a meeting and ‘‘no’’ to another – because you’re your own boss.
But many people who work from home suffer from loneliness simply because it’s only them.
There’s no Friday night drinks. There’s no Christmas parties. There’s no team-building exercises that no one looks forward to but everyone enjoys. Your motivation and your success all comes down to one person – you.
When I had a baby, I just couldn’t work from home any more. It used to be easy to mentally split home and work life despite doing both at the same place, but now ‘‘home’’ is associated with never-ending loads of washing and, of course, the guilt that many working mums experience.
I find it hard to focus on deadlines when my son is romping around in the next room, but when I’m giving him the attention he craves, work that I’m yet to complete always hovers in the back of my mind.
Then a friend of mine asked if I’d like to share his new office and rent a desk off him, and now my life has completely changed. I go to work every day. The physical act of leaving my house and all the mental associations that come with it means that when I arrive at work, it’s work time, and when I get home, I can focus on my family. I’ve become a better-mum and a better worker because of the physical and mental separation of home and work.
Yes, renting a desk and paying petrol money are overheads that I’ve never had to spend before. But the fact that I’ve made physical and mental room for work means I have more capacity to take on more and therefore cover my new expenses.
Shared spaces are lifesavers for many self-employed people. If you’re in the market for a shared space, the best place to start is your own network. Ask friends or on Neighbourly if anyone is looking for an office buddy, but don’t be afraid to go in with someone you don’t know that well either.
If you’ve been working from home for ages it might take some time to adjust, but you never know – it could also be the kickstart your business needed. It was for mine.
Many people who work from home suffer from loneliness simply because it’s only them.