The advantages of a home office

Feet and computerMy husband recently went from a corporate gig to a home office. For years, Steve was with a giant global company, working in the office of their North American headquarters and jetting off to New York or Amsterdam on a regular basis.

Now he works out of his home office in a basement bedroom. Instead of a view of the Atlanta skyline, he looks out on our neighbor’s bass boat parked on a trailer.

I told him he wouldn’t like it. I thought he’d miss the camaraderie of the office, the convenience of assistants, the excitement of being a big shot at a big company.

I was wrong. Steve is happy as a clam down there. He goes to work in shorts and a T-shirt, unless he’s got to go out for a meeting. He can check in with our son when he gets home from school, maybe shoot a few baskets out in the driveway with Sam. He has easy access to good coffee and half and half. If he’s not meeting someone for lunch, he can usually find something healthy to eat in the kitchen.

So much business is done by phone or email nowadays. And it’s just as easy to handle that from a home office as a big office. Steve’s business partners are in Canada and Switzerland, so they hold meetings on Skype. And occasionally he goes to New York or San Diego or Canada or Switzerland for meetings.

I loved working from home. Now I’m the one in the glass office tower, but for our son’s early years, I worked from a converted screened porch off our kitchen. I could take breaks to play with Sam for a few minutes, so he got to see me off and on during the workday. I was right there if his nanny had a question. And I could drop him off in the mornings at his pre-school up the street and be at my desk five minutes later.

Imagine being able to open your office window and for a little fresh air. Feet and computerWhen my business partner Jennifer went from a corporate cubicle to her home office, she felt a new sense of freedom. She couldn’t get over how great it was to be out in the real world during the day instead of housed somewhere in the fluorescent-lighted sprawl of a Fortune 100 company.

There are a huge number of small business owners who never shower until midday. They get up in the morning and sit down at their desk. My friend Marilou, who ran McFarlane Marketing out of a home office for a few years, said her UPS guy had never seen her in anything but sweats and a ponytail, because her routine was to work all morning, go running at lunch, and then take a shower and get dressed sometime early afternoon. 

There are many practical advantages to a home office. You don’t have to pay rent. You can work without the interruptions of a traditional office environment. Your commute is pretty short. You can be there during the day for your kids. Your dog can lie at your feet while you work.

But the biggest advantage is quality of life. For many people, escaping a corporate environment and working in a home office means a huge improvement in their work-life balance.

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