I’ve been working from my home office for the past six years as consultant and a coach. It was awesome, amazing, the best decision I’ve ever made and then, suddenly, it wasn’t.
The original reasons for working at home were no longer relevant. I’d chosen to work at home, in order to have flexibility while I tried to get pregnant (i.e., spending hours everyday in a fertility clinic) and raise a small child.
I gladly gave up the idea of mat leave for the flexibility and independence of working from home. I laughed to myself as I tried to lead a conference call while nursing my two-month-old as his poo leaked out of his diaper and ran down my leg. (maybe better stated as I laugh at the memory of that moment, at the time, I was close to tears).
Now, 5 years later, my kid is 4 ½, and loving Junior Kindergarten. As he slipped into a scheduled life, my need for flexibility wasn’t as pressing.
I was suffering from Solopreneur Solitude and what I needed now was connection. Sure, I talked to people on the phone on occasion, but it wasn’t enough. What I needed was variety. I needed not to be in my house every day. I needed to not be half engaged in listening to see if the dryer was done.
My social life is great and fulfilling, but on a professional level, it was lacking. Here’s what I did to connect.
Formed a group
I’m lucky to have a group of people I meet with every couple of weeks to have wide ranging unscripted conversation about business and life. I leave every conversation energized and ready to look at my business in a new way.
We marvel at the commonality of our experiences, even in diverse fields. We laugh, we celebrate each other successes, and commiserate over failures.
Moved my office
For my mental health, the most effective way I could think of connecting was to move my office out of my house. I looked into co-working spaces and landed at WeWork Richmond West, surrounded by other entrepreneurs and small businesses doing their thing.
There was something about my son turning 4 that opened up some free space in my brain. Space to think about what I wanted, what I was interested in, where I wanted to end up. I felt like the “keeping this other person alive” phase was over. So, I started scheduling things that I was interested in professionally – networking events, book talks, entrepreneur events. Having these scheduled events ensured that I was exposing myself to new ideas and new people.
At these various events, I was meeting people whose work I found fascinating. Inviting them out for coffee is a great way to get to know someone and find out more about what they do, and how they got there.
The combination of these activities has resulted in a vibrant and interesting professional life for me, and alleviated the Solopreneur Solitude. It has given me a reason to bust out my favourite blazer from the closet and brush my hair every day. Most of all it has given me connection. There very well may be a time in the future when I go back to working from home, but for now I’m glad to be out in the world.