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.

The Tribune (NZ) - - BACKYARD BANTER -

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.

123RF

Many peo­ple who work from home suf­fer from lone­li­ness sim­ply be­cause it’s only them.

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