A couple months ago, I transitioned from working in an office environment with editorial director, Rob Heselbarth, and executive editor, Ken Betz, in Arlington Heights, Ill., to working out of a home office outside of Pittsburgh. Modern-day technology has made communication easy – emails, phone calls and remembering the one-hour time difference makes communicating a snap. I also invested in a large el-shaped desk and ergonomic office chair to keep comfortable. Between those and my company-supplied laptop, dual-monitor setup, telephone and printer, my home office is even more efficient than my Illinois cubicle was. Operable windows allow fresh air and daylight to infiltrate my office; I can’t remember the last time I had to turn on the overhead light.
As a self-professed introvert, I love the solitude of a home office. The quiet and peace allows me to focus my energy on the task at hand rather than using energy to shut out all the activity around me that an office often has. On the rare occasion I need that background noise, I found a lovely, independent coffee shop down the road with WiFi, excellent drinks, even better homemade treats and some delicious lunch options. Seriously, who knew a coffee house could specialize in ambiance, coffee, dessert and salads?
I can’t overlook my office mates (not of the human variety), either. Study after study indicate dogs in the workplace relieve stress. I’m fortunate to have my dog, Lexi, and cat, Oliver, as companions. They each have their animal beds set up in my office so they’re nearby. Both remain fairly quiet and calm during the day and are always nearby for some animal therapy on stressful days.
Wonderful as working at home is, it is not without its challenges. Some days I struggle to transition from work mode to evening or weekend mode since my office is also my home. Sure, it leads to increased productivity, but not differentiating work time versus personal time can lead to burnout. Spring and early summer is the ideal time in Pennsylvania to have the windows open. With those open windows, however, comes a chorus of birds singing, a rooster at the nearby farm crowing all day long and church bell chimes every 15 minutes. I’ve learned to ignore it, but while on the phone, people on the other end have noticed the wildlife so I need to take care to shut the windows.