Working from home is becoming the new normal. There is even a new ‘work from home’ category on Seek.
Most of my professional, office dwelling friends have been working from kitchen tables and spare rooms for the last 3 to 4 months. As the second wave of Covid sweeps through Victoria, I’m sure people are glad to be set up in their garages out of harm's way.
In reality working from home when you have a young family is probably one of the most frustrating and stressful things I’ve ever done. And I have been doing it for the last 9 years so Covid’s got nothing to do with it!
I imagine anyone who is self-employed can appreciate the desire to exceed a client's expectations. When you work alone you have to be a little bit of everything - admin, sales, marketing, production, customer relations. The only thing is that ‘exceeding expectations’ in all these roles in the working relationship is exhausting.
If you add kids into this mix it's a recipe for disaster. Looking after children when you have nothing to do but make them lunch can be exhausting. So trying to over achieve professionally whist mediating a fight about who needs the orange crayon can be overwhelming to say the least.
It's a balancing act that is ever changing.
When we had our first baby, Frank, I was at work within 3 weeks. He would come to work with us and I’d work while he slept. That was great for the first 6 months until he started to need to be entertained whilst he was awake. If we weren’t busy it was fun! Frank did his first roll, first sit, first steps all in our shitty little office in Delacombe.
When deadlines needed to be met things got stressful - quickly. Whilst Matt (husband) and I tried to balance the duties it was always me who had to do the feeding and babies absolutely vibe off your emotions - that stress that was building caused Frank to be super restless and our 1 hour nap might only be 15 minutes. SHIT.
Stress builds even more. Baby doesn’t sleep. SHIT.
Someone has to drive half way to Geelong to get Frank to sleep. SHIT.
He's awake - KEEP DRIVING! SHIT!
Anyway you get the idea, it has ups and downs. Turns out that was the easiest phase as well because having two babies at home made work IMPOSSIBLE. When one sleeps the other one is awake.
Needless to say we got our kids into daycare as soon as humanly possible. Now, I don’t want you to think that I don’t enjoy looking after my own children, I love it! But when you're self-employed, there is no maternity leave. The government gives you minimum wage for a few months then your on your own.
The other thing that is often overlooked in these types of situations is that I actually like working. I love being a designer and helping people articulate their visions for whatever enterprise that maybe. I didn’t want to stop so the ever changing balancing act is what we are left with.
Working from home when your kids are at school, kinda or daycare is great. Working at home when it's 2 degrees outside, raining and you’ve banned the TV because the kids just pulled all the folded sheets out of the linen cupboard - not so good.
Everyone has their own stories around ‘working from home’. The kids disrupting the Zoom call is pretty vanilla these days. I’ve heard tales of partners walking nude through the shot, and there was the lady who took her laptop to the loo! Amazing.
Interestingly, working from home has presented a new business opportunity for Matt and myself. It looks like working from home is going to become a permanent fixture in people's lives. Maybe not 5 days a week but lots of workplaces are rotating the staff in house to meet Covid number regulations.
People who have been working off kitchen tables for the last four months are probably ready to pull their hair out!
Therein lies the opportunity!
Over the last 5 years Matt has been developing a panelised building system for building houses. A system that would be perfectly suited to building small stand alone structures that can be set up as offices in peoples backyards!
Boom! TinyOffice is born!
Just like that, we pivot and start charging towards a new north star! Designing and building beautiful home office buildings that people can permanently fix to their yards or we can put on a trailer like a Tiny Home, so you can take it anywhere! Best thing is it's a work expense so there is a tax incentive as well!
I’ve read a lot lately about risk-taking being the most common trait amongst entrepreneurs and experts. This is our biggest risk taking to date! So strongly do we believe that we are onto something that we drew out every last cent of our super, sold off machines that we don’t need to build the offices, all in order to get our first TinyOffice into production!
So watch this space! We are going to need all the support we can get!
Tiny Office ~ Work from home away from home!
Note: Matt has the kids today and Alice got into my office ‘nook’ and found my sharpies (PERMANENT BLACK MARKERS) - If I had a TinyOffice I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened!