The importance of separating 'work' from 'home'

Does it really make a difference?

I’ve run my own business for years. Design business, tv production company, and now an innovation studio - there have been many guises. Sometimes I’ve rented offices to house the team. At other times we’ve worked in shared spaces hiring desks as needed. But as with so many companies, when lock-down happened I was back to sitting at a desk in my living room.

The upside of working from a desk at home is no commuting. The downside is you are always ‘on’, constantly aware of tasks undone, hearing emails ping in, and putting in longer hours, much longer hours.

Last summer I moved house. I was downsizing, but one of the attractions of the new property was a rat-infested shed 27’ long. And I do mean ‘attraction’. Could this hideous space be the answer to my ‘always on’, overworking habit?

Talking to clients and friends, they'd mentioned how having desk space somewhere other than within your domestic living space but still close by was the answer. In walking out of the house door and into another space - a defined work space - whether in the garden, or around the corner, they were able to mentally separate themselves from one world and step into the other. Whether at the start or the end of the day.

Down came the rat-infested shed, and on its concrete footprint up went my wonderful birch-ply lined Ayr cabin. Looking out over my tiny garden, with sliding doors that let the sun pour in, means that being at work is a pleasure. Still no commute (unless you count 15 steps a commute), but those 15 steps allow me to switch ‘heads’.

In the morning I can start work earlier than a normal commute would allow, and in the evening I can shut work in the studio for the night and go home. This change of space has contributed to my creative and mental wellbeing in ways I can’t quantify.

A further benefit is that if clients come for meetings - rare but occasionally - they don’t need to enter my home and see my private space. It maintains a professional approach that I value.

So if you need those 15 steps to keep work and home separate for your own personal wellbeing - get a cabin!

Written by Erica Wolfe-Murray; Thame Office Cabin