The first home office I remember having, and actually using occasionally as an office, was a bend in the hallway of our home when I worked at Microsoft. Yep, that’s right, just a bend in the hallway. I would work from home on rare occasions when I needed to stay home for some reason (e.g. contractors coming). I had a dinky little desk, a horrible chair that couldn’t roll on the carpeted floor very well, and a small monitor. This bend in the hallway had three doorways within reaching distance, opening into two kids bedrooms and their common bathroom.
Despite all of the negatives of such a ridiculous home office, I have a distinct memory of one very productive day when I worked from home. I can’t even remember why I couldn’t go into work that day. But we were close to shipping Office 2007, and I had a ton of bugs on my plate. I sat down at the desk, my wife helped keep our two boys under the age of five at the other end of the house, and I cranked through more bug fixes than I had in the previous week. It really opened my eyes to the possibilities that remote work opens up.
That little home office eventually moved into half of an undersized room, and I still only used it occasionally, maybe once a month, for my day job. But I had a door that I could shut. Whew!
Over the next few years, my home office was part of our homeschooling room, a commandeered child’s bedroom, a corner of the master bedroom (that didn’t work out very well), and back to a bedroom sandwiched between kids rooms. I went from working only rarely at home to having a fully remote job, first at TrackAbout, and now at Articulate.
Through the process I’ve learned a lot about what works in a home office, what doesn’t work, and what is up to personal preference. So, now it’s time to build my own. We’ve got an extra bay in our garage and last week a contractor came in to give us an estimate for the work it will take to turn it into a real home office.
I’ll be documenting the process here, along with other tips for doing successful remote work.
What was your worst home office? What is your ideal home office? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.