How to work away from the office
I’m not sure all roles benefit from flexible working. It depends on your company and career stage. At Beautystack, the startup I founded last year, the pace of change is massive. Although remote working is a natural part of the tech industry, being away from the office at this crucial juncture of our development slows everything down. You’d miss ideas bounced around outside meetings, you’d miss team bonding, you’d just miss out.
Our software engineers often work from home for various reasons, such as childcare issues, but they can code from anywhere and are disciplined in their approach. I get distracted easily, so I prefer to compartmentalise my life into work/family/friends/me. My office is my sanctuary, and when it comes to work, my favourite place is at my desk. Home is a different sanctuary, where my favourite place is my bed. Rarely do the two meet.
Don’t assume you can Skype in – it’s just not the same. But if you want to explore working outside the office, ask yourself: does my work require regular input from others? Can I concentrate with friends and family around me? How long can I do my work without requiring some distraction? Do I fire off emails more quickly on a sofa or at a desk? Do I enjoy socialising with my team-mates? Will my kids/housemates want to hang out with me because I’m home? When you’ve done a health check, do the right thing by yourself and your company.
A co-working space can be a happy medium. You have relative freedom but with some organisation. It’s a bit like the gym – you could exercise outdoors on your own, but doing it alongside other people makes you more accountable. Most importantly, do what works for you.