I work from home most of the time. I find it a more productive environment, with no distractions and just me and my mind and my focus (and cats). But that’s not to say that sometimes I don’t go a bit stir crazy with just my mind (and my cats) as company.
Sometimes I just need someone to talk to; to run an idea past or talk about the weather for five minutes while I’m thinking about my next task.
Luckily I have a whole network of colleagues, friends and business associates I can call or email. I do find though that sometimes this can waste valuable time and you end up talking about a whole new business idea, when all you wanted to know was how to adjust a setting in WordPress… That’s the curse of the entrepreneur though, I guess.
Recently, I have been talking about the issue of the self-imposed isolation of the homeworker with my friend and business associate, Lee Callender of Mail Magic. He also works alone a lot of the time and we have found ourselves texting several times a day to chat about work things. The trouble with texting though, is that you’re deep in thought or concentrating and the ‘ding ding’ can startle the living daylights out of you, or you want a quick answer right now, but the other person doesn’t reply straightaway.
And so Lee and I decided we needed to share an office.
Trouble is, I like working from home and we live an hour apart and neither of us actually wanted to really properly share an office. It would defeat the object of choosing to work alone.
So, I suggested we set up a Google Hangout.
Now, you probably know that I am not a massive fan of Google+ (remember it, anyone?!), but Google Hangouts is a really cool tool. If you’ve not used it, it’s like Skype, but a more reliable connection (plus you can have up to ten people on your hangout). It seemed like the answer to our office-sharing, overcoming-loneliness issues. We set up a Hangout (eventually. It makes it really complicated if you’re both doing it at once!) and had it running for a few hours.
It worked really well. To start with we chatted for a bit, but then we left the Hangout open and just got on with our work. We both took phone calls, and it wasn’t in any way disruptive. It was just like sharing an office. There were long pauses of silence, and then one of us would just mention or ask something and the other could respond without stopping what they were doing.
Lee said he found it motivated him, because I was getting results in from an email campaign I sent, and so he wanted a slice of that success. Entrepreneurs are very competitive creatures! I found it really good just to have someone there who was in the same boat and who completely understood my business objectives and challenges. Plus we had a bit of giggle as we went along.
The only issue appeared to be the noise of my typing. I have been told before that I am an aggressive typist, but I think that’s to do with the speed at which my mind works. My fingers are racing to keep up.
My experience of the few office-sharing Hangouts Lee and I have done is that they are a lifeline for those of us that choose to work alone. They increase productivity and stop you driving yourself mad with your own thoughts.
The only thing they’re not good for is sharing the tea-making duties.