Much more than I like to admit, I’m a creature of habit. I’ve got my schedule, my routine, my rituals, and if it’s disrupted I’m cranky, really cranky.
When we formed Duncan+Coleverria in 2009, we were looking for a way to improve working from home for people like me and my business partner….consultants who needed tools and resources to work more productively from home. What we quickly realized is that no amount of tools or resources would work if we didn’t have the mindset of working from home.
People who work in a traditional office setting can easily achieve this mindset because the simple act of going to the office creates their schedules, routines, and rituals. From turning off the alarm, to getting dressed in work clothes, commuting, walking into the office and saying “hi” to the receptionist, their day has already been filled with routines and rituals to put them in the work mindset. Reversing the routine can easily slip them into the “home mode” mindset.
For those of us who work from home, this isn’t so easy. For me, my schedule was a flurry of activity to get kids to school. When I came home, I’d look around, and think “now what?” I needed a better way to start my day.
A few years ago we interviewed a number of independent consultants and nearly 80% claimed they weren’t happy with their work-at-home set-up. This intrigued us, probably because we could very much relate. We started talking one-on-one to more businesses and what we uncovered was that the roadblocks weren’t necessarily tools or resources that were missing. Rather, the roadblocks had more to do with the mindset of the people who were working at home. It can be lonely, frustrating and downright unproductive working in isolation.
I believe it wasn’t so much that people were unhappy with their set-up, but rather with the experience of their current workstyle, which is so much more than just getting the work done. One of the biggest complaints from people who work outside the office is that it “gets lonely”. Creating a workstyle that addresses those feelings of isolation, the lack of real interaction with others, and the little rituals that keep us on task is important to our happiness when working in an alternative workstyle.
It doesn’t matter if we work in a traditional office or out of our car, most of us need that make a mental shift to get into “work mode”. When we work outside of a traditional office, we generally lack those external and internal cues to help us fully make that shift.
Just as important to maintaining that “work mode” are those stimulating breaks…with other people. Walking to the water cooler and running into a colleague to discuss a project keeps us far more productive and on task throughout the day than taking a break to check Facebook or pin ideas on Pinterest, which can easily suck up an hour before you even realize it.
When we work at home, we have to work at maintaining the mental focus and being productive, because the distractions at home are enormous. We need to create routines and rituals that shift and keep us in a productive work mode.
This is exactly where Flipside Workspace helps me everyday. Flipside Workspace is a web-based virtual business park with meeting and gathering spots for consultants and small businesses to connect and collaborate in an interactive setting. For companies who want to “set up shop”, Flipside even provides office space.
Our company, Duncan+Coleverria, created Flipside Workspace because quite frankly we needed it. We needed it to add structure to our day, to help us with our mind-shift, and as a way for us to run our company together, even though we are 70 miles apart. Now, I “clock in” at 9:00 every morning by greeting the receptionist in the lobby of our office building and checking messages on our bulletin board. I move into the Duncan+Coleverria office, sit down at my desk, and am present and available to my business partner until 4:00. When I take a lunch break, I head to the virtual cafe…my cue to her, and to me, that I’m taking a break. We use the chat and phone feature to communicate, and document sharing tools to review work.
Colleagues and clients know that they can stop by my office and visit anytime, the door is always open, and they always know where to find me. If I’m not in the office, they know I’m not working that day. I enjoy those distractions, because they tend to always be work-focused….and they keep me far more productive than responding to an email or checking in on Facebook.
Lisa Duncan is CEO of Duncan+Coleverria, Inc. and Co-Creator of Flipside Workspace™. Lisa and her alter ego can be found in Duncan+Coleverria’s Flipside Office M-F 9-4:30 PST, located on the lobby level of Flipside’s office building. She encourages businesses to stop by, say hello, and see how Flipside Workspace can help you embrace your alternative workstyle.