HR Insights, Talent Management

The Flip Side of Working at Home: Sometimes, It’s Nice to Have an Office

Office debate

I recently spent a week in an office for the first time since July 2009. I have spent days in coffee shops, co-working spaces, and other people’s offices but never a full week of that in one place and at one desk.

I thought it was going to be mostly annoying, but to my delight, it was mostly not that at all. I don’t know if that’s because of my great new co-workers or nearly four years of office sensory deprivation talking. Let’s just call it both.

Somebody asked me if I liked working from home and I responded enthusiastically that I do. When asked why, I said something along the lines of, “I’m kinda a loner.” It felt like a loser, cop-out answer.

The joys of working at home

The more I thought about it though, the more it felt right and not at all like a weird response that a guy who doesn’t interact much with people in person would say.

Okay, maybe it is a little like that.

I’m not going to get into the introvert/extrovert thing because it is out of my pay grade, but I will tell you that some people are fueled by having activity that surrounds them and some people are fueled by having calm around them. Some people like a mixture of both environments.

I’ve worked with all of them. I worked with a lady who would jam her earphones in and blast some Enya or whatever New Age music she had on her playlist so loud, I could hear it from where I sat. Interrupting her meant certain death. Similarly, some people pulled themselves into meetings and conversations and then would rush back to their desks and pound keys or make phone calls.

I could deal with both. I liked a certain amount of social time but if you put a gun to my head and ask me what I preferred, it was probably that time to myself that keep things moving along for me.

So, when I say you kinda have to be a loner to work from home every day, I really mean the kinda part. You don’t have to be anti-social to make it work, but without thinking about it, you have to fall on the side of being powered by internal forces rather than feeding off the energy of people close by.

Otherwise, those coffee shops are going to make a killing off of you and fellow customers won’t always be appreciative of your desire to chat.

The was originally published at Lance Haun’s (Life Between the Brackets) blog.

Lance Haun is an editor at The Starr Conspiracy, a marketing agency focused on the enterprise HCM market. He spent three years as an editor at ERE Media and seven years in the recruiting and HR trenches before joining the agency. You can follow him on Twitter, circle him on Google+, check out his blog or contact him directly at lance@coug.rs.
  • jacque vilet

    I don’t think you should have to make an “either/or” choice. There are good and bad things about both. Why not spend some working at home and some time working in the office?

    • http://twitter.com/thelance Lance Haun

      Jacque, In my case, it is a distance issue (I’m in Seattle, The Starr Conspiracy is in Ft. Worth). Generally speaking, I work out of the house once a week for at least half a day as a sanity check.

  • jacque vilet

    Agree Lance. And . . . . I can see why you live in Seattle! Actually I love both cities but you can’t beat Seattle for scenery whereas Fort Worth . . . not so much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lb.mktingacct LB Mktingacct

    Interesting insight, Lance. I couldn’t agree more – while some professionals are fueled by the activity and culture of working in an office, others are fueled by having control over the calmness around them, and then there are the individuals that like to mix it up. The key is to do a little self-reflection to determine the type of environment you would best thrive in. Whether that means finding a job with flexible work options or becoming an entrepreneur and setting your own schedule, your priority should be finding the right workplace situation for you. – Allison O’Kelly, founder/CEO Mom Corps