My daily commute is about 30 slow, zombie shuffles between my bedroom and my home office. While I’m grateful to say I have the option to work wherever and whenever I want, I sometimes love-hate my arrangement. Because working from home has a way of slowly sucking away your sanity.
I’m a vagabonding writer who’s worked out of different homes from around the world since 2015. Earlier this year I’d started to settle for a bit in Los Angeles, where it’s not uncommon to commute for several hours each day due to heavy traffic, and decided that I needed to work from outside the home. I traded my “free” home office space and two-minute commute for a 40-minute commute to a proper office that I paid $US500 ($670) per month for.
It was a good decision.
It isn’t that I can’t get anything done at home. I have no trouble being ruthlessly productive on most days. Instead, it’s the invisible things that hurt me and my sanity. It’s sometimes not knowing when to stop working or constantly getting interrupted by well-meaning but totally clueless family members who just want to know what’s for lunch. And because it’s sweatpants all day and every day I might forget what it’s like to look presentable (which is more of a personal problem, I suppose).
But also, I just miss having that face-to-face interaction with people who aren’t also my family.
I used to work in office settings where I’d regularly banter with my co-workers in the coffee room. They were always good for brainstorming ideas or commiserating with for times when a project made me want to tear my hair out. I took it for granted. When I first started working from home, the difference was immediately stark clear: Working from home gets awfully lonely. And that’s why I signed up with WeWork, a shared co-working space.
WeWork and other co-working spaces like it offer a startup-like microcosm of smart, diversely skilled professionals who are open to chatting and sharing ideas. Any working professional or team of any size can plunk down some money to rent their own dedicated office space or desks and gain access to the well-equipped (and fancy) facilities on a month-to-month basis. Not going to lie: The unlimited coffee and beer certainly sweeten the deal.
And the office vibe helps. I learn new things and get to bask in the buzzing, collective energy of my fellow creatives. If I wanted focused work, I just retreat into my office or an empty conference room. And if I don’t want to go into the office, I don’t have to. The physical separation of a location for work and home stuff has allowed me to also draw clearer, distinct lines on what I should and could work on. That, too, has been a huge boon.
Sure, I could save money to plant my arse back in my own home office chair and be a hermit, but the trade-off of being able to build a routine to go someplace most days of the week and ultimately be more productive are worth more to me than the commute and monthly rental.
Plus, it gives me a reason to leave the house.