Spinning the Desks

Young lady sat at desk on a laptop computer

I recently wrote about the liberating joys of saying goodbye to an office. No more watercooler moments, sure, but no clock-watching and lost time discussing colleague’s weekends or – worse – their children’s. In the usual way the universe seems to counterbalance a particular viewpoint, I suddenly started noticing newspaper articles announcing the end to home working. Coffee shops are getting fed up with freelancers spending all day nursing one flat white, and companies, including Yahoo and Google, are limiting home working in favour of a collaboration = creativity approach.


The virtual office is definitely for me. I’ve been running Thomson & Scott for over five years without the need of a fixed address (admittedly with filing cabinets in our bathroom and cases of champagne under the bed) and don’t think this will change. But there are lots of ways I make it work for me:

  • Watch your energy levels. Portable phone chargers are my best friends, and I always travel with at least two of them
  • Let’s diarise? Don’t be afraid to check that your meeting is where and when you think it is. I once went all the way to Glasgow to discover my appointment thought she was seeing me the following week
  • Don’t be a flat white. I’m with the coffee shops on this one; it is a bit cheeky to hang around all day enjoying free internet and giving the minimum back. Getting jostled in a busy Starbucks is also not exactly flattering to anyone you’re meeting. Instead, I find somewhere suitably glamourous (hey, I am in the sparkling wine business!) for rendezvous, checking ahead that the Internet works and there’s plenty of space to spread out papers
  • Happy hosting. It’s vital to back paperwork up, so I use systems like Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) and iCloud to ensure that if I drop my Mac in a puddle I won’t be left in admin purgatory
  • Clock Watch. Working for yourself makes it hard to switch off. Set up desktop alerts for the things that matter most to you – an email from designated contacts, or Twitter mentions – so that you can quickly check your phone and then get on with your life. And be disciplined about downtime, or you’ll end up working 24/7, office or no office
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