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I am self-employed in software development and I can work either at home or at office with my friends and co-workers.

I have a sub-notebook which I connect to peripherals at home or at office.

The problem is how to balance my need for simplicity, minimalism and balance with switching of workplaces.

Here are some aspects of working at home:

  • quiet environment
  • solitude (better focus, but no social contact)
  • high-quality LCD and peripherals (can be moved to office, but then I would not be able to watch movies and play at home)
  • high amount of light
  • can think loudly, sing to music or playing with my pets whenever I want

Here are aspect of working at the office:

  • personal contact, laughter and chat
  • lower-quality LCD and peripherals (just good for work, but not enjoying)
  • low amount of light
  • need to respect social norms

The travel from home to office takes 35 minutes by public transport and I am considering whether to work at home or at office every day.

Just this thinking take me some cognitive effort everyday and I would like to get rid of it. Some possible solutions include:

  • buy a bigger notebook for home and move high-quality peripherals to office - I would still be able to work at home on the notebook

  • improve the workplace at office

  • make my home the "main" workplace and work in the office only with my notebook

So far I am moving between the two extremes. I work at home until the solitude and loneliness are unbearable - then I move to office. After some time in the office, I start getting angry from all the little noises, talk a darkness. And the cycle repeats.

Do you have similar experiences? Any hints and opinions on how to balance this?

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i almost take 1hour30min to reach my college...35min doesn't make much difference if its worth to be there –  Anirudha Sep 9 '12 at 17:54
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5 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The key thing for me about working from home is that if I procrastinate at work - I end up looking on SE or working my way though some webcomic - which aren't ideal activities - whereas if I procrastinate at home I end up doing things like laundry, and washing up and fixing bits around the house - all stuff that I'll need to do later on anyway.

More specifically in your case I would simply have a schedule of coming in some days and not others - I've lived close enough to work that I could pop home for lunch and in those situations I've found it helpful to work from home in the afternoons. On the other hand I have a friend who lives a long way from work - he works very long hours Monday-Tuesday and stays over with a friend on the Monday night - working from home the other three days.

My personal view is that I try and arrange matters to work from home as much as possible... I work from my laptop wherever I am and am aghast that people can summon the strength to do rush-hour commutes on a regular basis...

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Agreed on the soul crushing effects of rush-hour commuting. –  MebAlone Sep 16 '12 at 8:17
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Why not just pick a regular schedule of where you'll work, and when?

Letting the frustration of one place build up until you feel you have to switch seems overly-stressful–with a regular schedule you'll just get in to the habit of being in one place or the other, and your colleagues will be able to plan around your presence/absence as well.

That said, I've often "upgraded" my work environment with my own monitor(s), input devices, chairs, lighting, noise-canceling headphones, "The Doct is In" signs, and so on–whatever it takes to keep me productive, focused, and happy (within reason). My home office will always be nicer, because it's where I do the vast majority of work–which isn't just for my job.

Of course, I'm not too good at respecting social norms, either.

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Thanks. I probably need to learn how to follow a schedule - I am very sensitive when it comes to organizing what to do every day, because I fear of days when I would have to so something according to schedule, which I hate... –  Libor Sep 10 '12 at 1:40
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Perhaps you could try to strike a balance in the amount of time you spend at each--Tuesdays & Thursdays at home, MWF in the office. Or mornings at home, afternoons at the office. I love working from home because I like quiet and solitude when I work, but even I get bored and long for a little noise after a day or two of working from home. I dont think I could do just one or the other.

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In my small software company, though there is conversation and some distraction, what I find invaluable is the synergy and spontaneity of being able to interact with and consult my colleagues at any time. For times when we want or need more intense concentration, we wear noise-cancelling headphones and then use Messenger for brief communication needs. I hope you find your ideal balance!

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I would suggest doing a thorough and honest evaluation of your time. Take a two week window and truly analyze when are your creative juices flowing the best - is it for the first 4 hours of the day and when it's quiet and well lit or in the afternoon when it's social and interactive? There is probably a balance to be found but once you pinpoint (approximately) when the solitude inhibits your productivity you can figure out the schedule that would work best for you. I wouldn't suggest doing a set M/W/F from home and T/TH in the office unless you find that is in fact the most effective schedule and the balance that makes you thrive.

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Thanks. I have finally chose office for work, moved to same room with my colleagues and my productivity raised tremendously. I worked on my sleeping habit to wake up soon in the morning and the evening/night is reserved for home/relaxation/social activities. The notebook is used at home in case of emergency :) –  Libor Sep 25 '12 at 16:22
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