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Making Your Work Environment Work For You

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by David Garland in David's Blog

Making Your Work Environment Work For YouDo you prefer to work from home/coffee shops/on the road, or at an office? Is one more productive than another? Is there a better choice?

I love working from home and coffee shops.

There is something about it, to me at least, that is just freeing. Not being tied to one place. No long commutes in traffic where I’m stuck behind Grandpa Sidney going 9 miles per hour on the highway. The ability to pop out of bed and be working at insanely early hours, with the feeling that I’m getting a jump on the rest of the world. And the satisfying feeling that as long as I have my phone and laptop (for the most part) I can work anywhere. Need a little commotion? Go to a coffee shop and feed off the energy and shiny, caffeinated people. Need a little silence? My home office can be an oasis.

Working from home, of course, is not for everyone.

My web developer, Nick, would probably rather gouge his eyes out with popsicle sticks than work from home. He likes to have a structured environment where work is work and home is home. Basically, he likes “leaving work at work”, and I totally get it and respect it. Because of course, with the benefits of working from home, there are also potential drawbacks or challenges (like in this cartoon on The Oatmeal). For example, you better be a self-starter and self-motivated or you are going to be screwed. And if you are easily distracted doing the laundry and cleaning the dishes, you might also be screwed.

The funny thing is, I’ve gone through this cycle twice in my entrepreneurial career.

Someone offered me an office space (very nice of them) so I took it. Free of charge or for some kind of trade. Awesome. But the problem is this. I don’t like working from an office. That is just me. I’m more productive and happy (yes, the “H” word) working from home and “on the road.” For me, an office screams of formality, pleated pants, water coolers and wasting time. For you, it might yell awesomeness, structure and consistency. Who knows. Plus there are all kinds of hybrid situations, such as St. Louis Coworking and Sunshine Suites (interview with Sunshine Suites founder Cheni Yerushalmi right here) that take small entrepreneurs and freelancers and put them in a hybrid environment that isn’t quite home and isn’t quite an office.

Both times the same thing happened. The first few weeks, I loved the new office. It was new, exciting and different. And then, I slowly started spending less time there. From five days a week to four then to less than zero. Was it because I was doing less work? Escaping reality? Quite the opposite. I just naturally gravitated back to what worked for me, and I couldn’t be happier.

My advice? Make your work environment work for you as opposed to doing what you “think you should do” or “what everyone else in your industry” does. You might be a work from home person. You might be a work from office person. You might want to work wearing a ballerina skirt in the middle of the park. You might change over time (who knows what the future holds for any of us…business changes, life changes, all that kind of stuff). Don’t worry about what others might think. There are people that are prejudiced towards people that work from home. I’ll call them office elitists. And there is an up-and-coming segment of people that are prejudiced towards people that work in offices. I’ll call them virtual elitists. You know where you are the most productive and happy. Go there.

So, do what you want. That is why you are an entrepreneur in the first place, isn’t it?

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