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March 22, 2007

The Pleasures and Perils of a Home Office

I periodically check how traffic comes to my blog looking at the search words and just today my site was found by someone who put in the words, "home office lonely."  So I checked what other sites came up which led to this posting.

We all talk about the great benefits of a home office, how technology has enabled us to go home to go to work, greatly reducing overhead/startup costs, shortening our commute and so on.   It can be an absolutely wonderful thing if we do it correctly and correctly means working with our personalities, and our families. 

Some have said you can get started with a folding table and chairs in a closet  That's absolutely technically true.  However, for the long haul what do you need for you to create that space that is emminently comfortable, functional and effective for your personality to enable you to produce high quality work product in the long term as well as enable you to integrate with your family smoothly?  Let's face it, when work is home and home is work the lines can blur and their can be casualties in our personal relationships with spouses and children.

First, I found this interesting article from Satisfaction Magazine called "Home Office Design Fundamentals."  It describes the elements of design with the interesting acronym CAMP.

"Computer. The good news here is that computers take up less space now, with developments in flat-screen monitors and wireless technology. Zimmerman has a wireless keyboard and mouse, which makes it easier to create desktop space.

Adminstration. Ideally, you’ll have a separate space to open mail and review paperwork. An L-shaped desk provides this.

Meetings. Will you be meeting with clients in your home office? If so, consider those needs, such as extra seating.

Projects. Do you need space for special projects? For example, a graphic designer may want a specific area to review slides.

Multi-Use Offices
Home owners should also consider what else they want to do in their home office besides work. Designers say that many clients request a multi-function room. Zimmerman recently designed a home office for a Manhattan couple, which also doubles as a guest room."

The overriding point is that most of us don't have the luxury of a 'separate' office within our homes designed exclusively for that use. We need to consider our needs for the long haul, design follows function.

Second, there is another great article in Forbes on the perils of having a Home Office, loneliness, family intrusions, very long work weeks and tips on how to handle these issues while keeping your sanity.  This author shot an arrow through my heart with this passage because I felt she was writing about me:

"Still, the biggest challenge is not over-working. It's easy to hop on the computer before the rest of the household rises. The same goes for the time after dinner and before bed.

"It's so easy to extend my work hours, and I feel guilty because I feel I should always be working," says Rockmore. "The other issue is on the weekends, there aren't any boundaries. I can walk into office and spend a half hour checking e-mail. I wouldn't necessarily do that if I had an out-of-home office."

Orloff says the only solution to that is to train yourself to shut off at a certain time--and to stick to it."

I am definitely starting to slide down this slope and have got to get a handle on creating my 'work week' and sticking to it.  Yes, will I have e-mail and blogging withdrawals?  I'm sure. 



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We make working at home lots of fun - me, him, dog, cat. Yes, half our house is office. No, not everyone can work with their partner. We love it. :) It's a conscious decision on our parts to enjoy both life & work. Very radical. ;)

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