Place

12 Jun

“Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.”
-Tina Fey, “A Mother’s Prayer for her Child,” excerpt from Bossypants

It was recently that day where you take your child to work with you… ostensibly so you can show them all the opportunities out there, but in practice a day of low office productivity and half-full classrooms.

Remember when it was “Take Your Daughter to Work Day?”

My daughter will grow up watching my husband and me work, since we both work at home; the mysteries of adult work life will be transparent to her. Last year, a family member asked me what I do and I flippantly joked about my tasks. But then he said, “no, really, what do you do?” implying so very much, including something I hear often from new acquaintances – that they can’t imagine how I keep busy at work.

But even though she’ll grow up seeing our home offices, watching us take the odd phone call or answer an email after hours, or slip down to the office to work on a presentation while one of us plays with her, my daughter’s not likely to spend the hours playing at her dad’s office, being entertained by a secretary, and sorting through the office supplies there like I did when I was a kid. (Oh, cabinets and cabinets of staplers and boxes of pencils, how I treasure my time with you.) So “offices” in the traditional sense will be a mystery to her.

I joke that I am ruined for offices. I can’t imagine working in one, yet I go to our offices maybe once a year. It’s such a foreign culture to me. I feel like I’m talking too loud all the time and it’s weird to pass other people as I go to the bathroom or for a snack. I can’t sit still in those cubicles. This is something I’ve learned about my work style. I never would have guessed it after college, trying to decide on a career. At that time, I had a brief stint in office situations, but mostly had worked in retail around people. After that, I went straight to working out of my home and traveling to visit different bookstores.

This fact about me doesn’t make me anti-social or not a team player. In fact, I had to work really hard to find a way to be in touch with people so that I didn’t go stir-crazy in my house all day. (Social networking helps, and I firmly believe being able to check in on Facebook and Twitter throughout the day is as okay as my coworkers in the office being able to meet up in the kitchenette and chat.) A lot of people aren’t cut out for the kind of work-style I’ve developed, either too distracted by their personal life at home, bored by the lack of communication, or undisciplined.

I am so very lucky to get to work in my home. So lucky that last week I was actually able to work in my sunny backyard on the patio. My husband joined me and we each had a really productive day, making it pretty much an ideal work day. Inside, my office setup is key to me feeling happy at my work. I love that I finally expanded the space that I can work around the house but still check things off my to-do list.

It’s got me thinking about space. I ask in my interviews, often, what kind of setting is required to do different work. It’s so interesting to see how the people I’m attracted to interview answer this question and whether traditional office settings are required. Alma goes to an office filled with people she can brainstorm with, Mary Fran once converted a barn for her work, Jennifer works at home, Angela works… everywhere?

I also started a Flickr group called A Room of One’s Own. I invite you to show me where you do your work. The goal is to talk about workplace design, comfort, inspiration, but also share so we can begin to complete the pictures in our heads of how we all spend our days.

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One Response to “Place”

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  1. Scenes from the Weekend and a Few Links I Love « Such Small Steps - June 13, 2011

    […] the work they do, the creative paths they have taken, and the way they follow their passion. A recent post perfectly sums up life as a work-at-home-mom (something I’m very familiar […]

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