Aside from a short stint in a call centre during college, I’ve spent most of my adult life working from home. In fact, this summer would have marked 8 years of this routine; one that had grown to feel solitary and monotonous.
In regards to working from home and being surrounded by my fun gadgets and techy toys, I’ve been good at putting my head down and avoiding succumbing to distraction. Within the past 12 months, however, I began feeling despondent at home, with each day seamlessly merging into the next without the disruption of social interaction.
The worst part of working from home, though, isn’t the ongoing monotony of each, indistinguishable day. No, it’s the fact that, having done it from the age of 18, it has impacted my confidence and social skills.
A traditional work environment, which I’ve had little experience of, gives people the opportunity to build new relationships. To learn from those around them. It encourages collaboration and the sharing of ideas. The absence of this, coupled with 8 years of a lack of daily social interaction, has taken its toll. Even in the simplest of social situations, I can watch my self-confidence crumble. I call this “losing my mojo”. I lose it more than I’d care to.
It was imperative to my wellbeing, then, that I moved out of my home office and into a shared studio; a place to interact with others and provide me with a work environment that is a little more conventional. When I mentioned this on Twitter, I was met with a lot of negativity. Apparently, working in an office environment has been the cause for a lot of scepticism (and what could even be perceived as hatred) toward humanity. I don’t think people had considered my personal circumstance, though, of a lengthy stint, which spanned a number of years, working from home and living alone. That’s a lot of time to spend in your own company. That’s an unhealthy amount of time to spend in your own own company.
So, at the beginning of June, I moved into a studio just off Glasgow’s bustling Byres Road. I didn’t know what to expect, but what has followed has been me at my most productive and happiest to date. I share the studio alongside a number of other creatives, most of whom are freelancers.
The noise is welcoming. I laugh at something every day. On fat fridays, we visit the local Mexican kitchen and order burritos. I share my work and ask for feedback. I walk 2 miles to and from work, meaning I’m getting more exercise than I was when working from home. People bring in homemade cakes (which combat the exercise, but it’s so worth it). My dog accompanies me to work. And – perhaps the best part – my studio mates and I sometimes socialise after work. This is a part of life I hadn’t experienced until I was 26 years old. Like, woah.
I understand this isn’t a traditional, corporate environment (and hopefully I will never have to experience one of those), but it is still a new and alien aspect of work-lifestyle for myself. Having a designated place to escape to each day, and people to work alongside, has undoubtedly improved my happiness. I just wish I had done it sooner.
As lucky as you may think I am for having the freedom to work from home (and I am!), it certainly has its disadvantages. I think it did suit me for a number of years, but – as Steve Jobs once asked – “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”. The answer, in regards to working from home and the accompanying loneliness / monotony, is a resounding “Hell no!“.