Children back at school. I have an uninterrupted day of writing ahead. Thank God I can spend it at at home. I’m so un-used to other people’s offices that just being in one can put me off doing anything creative. The administrative/managerial/ planning stuff, for which you need other people works fine, but is there anything less likely to generate creative thought than a beige, battery office? Home works because:
1. I can work when I am most productive. Personally I work best after lunch – some say lazy, I just blame my circadian rhythms. Either way, at home I can potter about all morning, mulling over what needs to be done, than pounce at precisely the right moment for peak efficiency and keep going until it’s done because…
2. Once I’ve started I don’t get interrupted. No-one hovering over my shoulder asking for a quick word No diary sliced into little chunks of productive work separated by meetings to interrupt my train of thought.
3. It doesn’t smell of food and there are no crumbs at my desk (except ones I’ve left). Pret’s discovery of Miso soup has a lot to answer for. The last office I worked in smelled like a Pot Noodle factory.
4. My desk is where (and how) I left it – no hot-desking, no having to fight each morning to get a desk with a chair AND a phone AND access to a working printer
5. I don’t need to put my name on the milk in my fridge.
6. I can work in silence if I want to, or with the radio if I don’t. I can listen to music and sing loudly if the spirit takes me. I can offer my opinion on callers to 5Live without being arrested for hate crime.
7. I can test out the copy I’m writing by reciting it out loud while wandering round the garden. What looks good on the page can sound weird when spoken aloud. If it’s going to be fun to read it has to feel like something someone might say.
8. I don’t have to clock-watch all afternoon, tracking backwards from the time at which I ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO leave the office to be home in time for the children, and trying to work out what I can fit into the time that’s left.
9. I don’t have to go anywhere in rush hour.
10. There’s a tree outside to stare at if inspiration fails. I sit by a window that opens, so I can control the temperature without having to beg building services to turn the aircon up or down. I have never seen mice behind the filing cabinets, or had to set cockroach traps on the window sill (and they say public sector workers are feather-bedded!)
No wonder the Work Foundation has research projects looking at the impact of work on health and wellbeing. Is there anyone who thinks working in an office is a pleasure?