written by Lori Thiessen

Happy New Year and welcome back to your virtual coffee shop office!

The start of the new year seems a natural time to review things, like life, love or work. Since this blog is about work, I’ll start there.

One of the issues that faces remote workers is where to work. Do I work from home, a coffee shop or a co-working space, aka “business lounge”?

As most of you have done, I have worked in all three spaces.  I’m going to be giving up my little rented workstation, quite reluctantly but I’m forced into it for a variety of reasons.  So in a month’s time,  I’m going to be office-less again and wondering where to pitch my tent, er laptop.

Sathnam Sanghera in the Times Online wrote a pithy piece on choosing the right space to work in entitled “Remote Working? It’s expensive, it’s lonely and there’s just no going back”.

The “business lounge” lost out to the coffee shop because of the lack of noise for Sanghera. In a regular office, there is the hum and buzz of regular activity. Noise was verboten in the business lounge making it unnaturally quiet.

Citing an academic study, Sanghera reports that an environment which is devoid of noise becomes the birthplace of distractions because any slight sound breaks in on the quiet mind of the remote worker.

Silence is not golden. As in, you may not be as productive (or lucrative) if you work in a “regular noise” deprived environment.

Harking back to the post “Music Increases Productivity?”, the folks who wrote in said that they generally worked better if they had some music on. One reader, Colleen, mentioned a couple of new “noise” concepts. Psychoacoustics and engineered harmonics.  I’ll talk about these in another post.

But Sanghera has pointed out something that hadn’t occurred to me before.

If you agree to become a remote worker with your company, you may not be able to go back to the regular office if you find that remote working really isn’t your bag. Like the kid who leaves for college and his parents turn his room into a den the minute he’s out the door, your workstation may be converted into something else before your clunky, company-supplied pc monitor has lost its turn-off glow.

For Sanghera, the choice isn’t between the coffee shop or the business lounge. She wants back into the ‘real’ and ‘normal’ office. At the end of her article, Sanghera urges the traditional office denizen to count his blessings and stay put. Life as a remote worker has sent her ’round the bend.

So before you leap out of the office cubicle into the wide-open spaces of remote working, think about your choice very carefully.

Q: If you had a choice, would you go back to a traditional office set-up complete with commute, co-workers in close quarters and a well-stocked supplies cabinet? If so, why?

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!