OK, I said I would lighten the mood this post. So, let’s talk about office space! Do you have it? Do you have an entire room dedicated to your office? Or is it a tiny corner of the living room or dining room, or worse, do you get to use the kitchen table when it’s not meal time?
Here’s the thing…
You DESERVE a nice office!
As women, we tend to put ourselves and our needs last. I think that is changing slowly. However, we come from generations of women whose needs were not considered important. Their role was to take care of everybody else. Not only that, but this way of thinking is prevalent across many, maybe even most cultures around the world. Here is a great article that talks about it.
Now, logically, I think we can all agree that’s not how it should be. We need to imagine ourselves in that airplane. You know, at the beginning of the flight, when the flight attendant is telling us the one thing we must do that is the very opposite of every instinct we have — put the oxygen mask on ourselves first, before we help our children! What????
OK, talking about creating a home office space might not be that extreme, but it is important. It can be so easy for women to just work wherever they can find the space. But whether you live alone or have a family, you deserve to have a dedicated space in which to work.
As a freelancer, you may be working from home, but you are still contributing to the family’s financial well being. It can be difficult for everyone, including you, to take working from home seriously. It’s the same place you play family games on Saturday night. It’s the same place you eat your meals, do your laundry, and kiss your kids goodnight.
When you’re working from home, you need to be able to separate your home life and your work life and your office space can help you do that. Over the years as a single mother renting my home, I have lived in a few places. In some of them, I had a separate room in which to work. In others I didn’t. And even when I did, I didn’t really do anything to make it special — at least not until last fall.
Seriously, it took me 13 years to create a nice office space for myself! I finally painted it in a nice pale lavender colour. I got new curtains, a new desk and chair (my old chair was literally thread-bare and one of the arms had the stuffing coming out). I got a new shelf, put up a couple of white boards, got a beautiful plant, and really made it a nice place to be. I love it! I plan to add a nice chair to curl up in soon.
This is important to me because it is in my office that I:
- Connect with my clients
- Get creative
- Produce amazing work
- Earn an income — the only income — to support my family
How are these things not important? How do these things not deserve — even require — a dedicated, professional space in which to happen? The answer is they are important and they do deserve a dedicated space.
If you do have a dedicated office space at home, then I applaud you. Maybe most women who work from home do, but I have the niggling feeling that there are a lot of us who neglect that need. So, here are some suggestions I have for creating the perfect office space based on my experience. You can apply these whether you are single, married, have kids or not:
- Have your office in a completely separate room if at all possible. This is a room in which the only things that should happen are activities related to your work.
- If you can’t dedicate a separate room to your office, then dedicate a separate space in a room to be your office space. That means you and only you get to be in that space and that is where your work happens.
- Get a real, good-quality desk and chair. You’d have them if you worked in an office for an employer and you should have them for your home office.
- Get any equipment and furniture you need to make your office functional, including a second screen, a printer, a paper shredder, shelving, or anything else you can think of.
- Paint your office, decorate it, get some nice curtains, and make it a place you actually enjoy being every day. Get artwork you love. Get a fountain, a stereo, an armchair to sit in when you want to relax and read. Make this space your own! I can’t stress this enough. You want to feel at peace in your office, so you can do your best work.
- Have a window in your office or put your office space next to a window. Natural light is so important.
- Get plants, many plants. They look nice, they recycle the air, and they are a balm for the mind and the soul.
Of course, there are other options besides the home office. There are co-working spaces, which are fabulous. They allow us to freelance, but still interact with other professionals every day. However, some of us may not want to put the money out for these spaces when we have space at home. Others, like me, may live in a place that doesn’t have any co-working spaces.
And there are always those times when you just want to get out of your office and out of your house, no matter how nice your office is. I have a lovely wrap-around porch that I often use as a summer office, particularly when I have lighter work to do and don’t need my second screen. I also frequently go to one of the nearby coffee shops, generally once a week or so. It’s a nice change of scenery.
Now, I want to hear about your office space! Tell us what type of space you have set up as a freelancer. Is it in a separate room? Does it scream you in decor and design? Or do you work wherever you can find the space? Do you sacrifice your comfort and functionality? The comments section awaits!