By April 1, 2011 Read More →

More on home office doors

Home office doorsThis post was inspired by some chats I’ve been having with people who have recently left corporate life to start their own business from home. It was first published on, the site for people who work out of coffee shops, hotels, airports and their homes every bit as much as the office:

I’ve noticed that articles giving advice on working from home frequently claim it’s essential to have a separate room so you can close a door on distractions during the working day and then shut work behind you at night. They imply that if you don’t have a spare room you shouldn’t really be thinking about working from home. Is this true?

Whereas some people may prefer this as the ideal way of working, experience and many home workers tell me it most certainly is not essential. Which is fortunate, as the price of property means many family homes are already full to bursting and the cost of acquiring an extra room or two is prohibitive.

So what to do when you want to start working from home? Catherine Raynor told me it was a case of thinking differently about the space she did have. Sharing a London flat with a flatmate, she didn’t want to work in either the kitchen or living room, as those were the rooms for relaxation after work. Nor did she like the idea of working in her bedroom, as business and sleep are such mutually exclusive activities! But then – a brainwave.

She had the brilliant idea to put a desk in front of her bedroom window, to take advantage of the view and keep her back to the rest of the room. Even more cleverly, she chose a glass desk and clears her work away into a wardrobe, newly fitted out with shelves, at the end of the day. The simple see-through desk now ‘disappears’ into the pink curtains at night-time and she gets her bedroom back.

Or you can find a space that’s currently wasted and put it to good use. Stacey Sheppard, a freelance design writer, has created her own research and writing zone by putting a desk under the stairs and pinning pictures and cuttings on the wall. Neat and out of the way, but it instantly spells work-time when she settles down there.

The kind of work you do means you might not need a permanent base at home anyway. Rosie Bray is a photographer who sets up her laptop on the living room table when she needs to do some editing, and the rest of the time is out and about taking pictures. Similarly you may spend a lot of time at meetings, travelling or on clients’ premises.

I’d hate to think that people might be put off working from home just because they don’t have a dedicated office. Even if you do, it may not be the answer for everyone. I’ve met home workers who have spent time and money setting up a nice home office, only to find they hate being there because they feel too cut-off from the rest of the family! As with any other aspect of workshifting, you get the best results if you understand your own needs, even if that goes against the conventional wisdom.

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