Two eWorkers, One Apartment
Rob Einaudi writes for www.ework.com – a Ms.Money partner.
Once you’ve discovered the wonderful world of eWorking, it may be difficult for your significant other not to be green with envy. Soon, there may be two of you working from home – the same home. In a perfect world, you would have two office spaces and bump into each other occasionally on the way to the refrigerator. However, if you live in an expensive area like San Francisco or New York City, you might not have this luxury. An apartment that already seemed on the cozy side can start to feel downright cramped. So how do you deal with this new challenge?
You should already have one fairly decent place to work – either a home office or some kind of dedicated work area. The better this space is for one person, the better it will be when there are two of you working in the apartment. Still, chances are, someone is going to end up working in the living room, bedroom or kitchen.
Time to Buy a Laptop?
You’ve probably been looking for an excuse to buy that sleek, powerful laptop anyway, so here’s your big chance. A laptop gives you a lot more flexibility. You’ll be able to set up for work in the bedroom or on the kitchen table fairly easily and quickly. And while working around the sticky syrup patches from that morning’s pancakes may not seem ideal, look at it this way – it will force you to become more organized. And if you both have laptops, you can take turns using the prime work area.
Possibly the biggest challenge will be learning to adapt to each other’s schedule. Freelance work tends to be somewhat erratic – one of you might work long hours one week while the other has little to do. The next week, the opposite could be true. Then there is the fact that everyone has his or her own rhythm – one of you might be able to get right to work in the morning, while the other will put off working until the evening. The key to all this will be learning to be flexible and considerate. Make sure to coordinate your down time – it won’t be much fun if you don’t have any down time together.
Partners in Crime
If you thought you were prone to procrastinating when you were home alone, now you’ll have a partner in crime. There’s a certain amount of regression that takes place when you work at home. If neither of you are tied to a formal office schedule, you may end up reinforcing each other’s worst tendencies. To counteract this, you might have to make a few ground rules and formalize your schedules.
The Party’s Over
Then again, if you were used to having the apartment all to yourself, get ready to make some adjustments. You’ll probably have to turn your old Zeppelin records down to an acceptable listening level, or get some headphones. As long as one of you is working, it’s an office, not an apartment.
Two of Everything?
You may want to have two of some things, and share others to keep costs down. For example, you may both want your own phone line, but you should be able to share a DSL account and some other office expenses. And be sure to talk to your accountant before tax time about possible write-offs.
A Second Office?
If the apartment really is too small and you’re having trouble adjusting to the change, one of you may want to look for a second office. But before you start looking for a place to rent, consider some other options. With a laptop and a cell phone, the local cafe could provide a bit of breathing room now and then. Or maybe you have a friend who has an apartment that is empty during the day. Try to work out a deal – take them to dinner or play with their lonely cat in exchange for the use of their apartment during the day.
Making the Transition
Learning to work at home is a big transition. When there are two of you making the transition, there will be a few more issues to take into consideration. But with a little ingenuity and flexibility, it could be the beginning of a long and profitable relationship.