Where We Work

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My husband and I have been living in our one-bedroom condo for almost four years now.

When we first moved in, we agreed to forgo the formal dining room in favor of a home office, and so we set up our desks in that space so that we were sitting back-to-back, each of us facing the opposite wall.

Over time, I’ve had less and less patience with this arrangement. Two litter boxes sit to the immediate left of my desk, guaranteeing that there is always a light dusting of litter beneath my feet, and a faint eau-de-cat-poop lingering in the air. The space is also pretty tight. If I shift my chair just slightly, I either bang my left elbow into the china cabinet, or bang the back of my chair into my husband’s. Our office also opens up into the living room, making it impossible for Michael to unwind in front of the television if I happen to be working (he apparently hates the wireless headphones I bought him).

I’ve taken to working from the bedroom on my laptop, sitting cross-legged on my bed with a breakfast tray propped up before me. The ambiance is definitely more pleasant — I have a large window to my left, and the absence of litter boxes is a joy — but it has its own problems, the main one being a perpetually stiff knee and a tight lower back.

So sometimes I bring my laptop to Barnes & Noble, where I work for a frenetic two hours before my laptop battery dies.

Honestly? I feel as if I’m in workspace limbo.

But we’ve been looking at houses lately. Not because of my workspace woes, but because we plan to start procreating, and living in a one-bedroom condo with three cats and a kid seems ridiculous. And since we’re upgrading anyway, we haven’t been looking at anything with less than three bedrooms. This leaves one room for us, one for our child-to-be, and one for the office of my dreams.

This makes me giddy. Because, aside from the thrill I’ll derive from finally having my own washer and dryer, I’ve been daydreaming about that future office of mine.

Are you in workspace limbo, too? Do you have a dedicated workspace in your home? Do you only work in co-working spaces or cafes? Where do you feel at your most productive? And will you ever upgrade? (You show me yours, I’ll show you mine!)

Related: Product Placement: My Dream Office


  1. When I worked from home 2 years ago I would switch between a desk in my [very small] room in Washington, DC, the couch in our living room, and the Panera Bread that I had to walk a mile with my laptop and work stuff to get to. While I hated sitting in my stuffy house all day by myself, I was always worried that there wouldn’t be any outlets to plug my laptop into by the time I got to Panera. It was just MORE stressful to try to work at a coffee shop/restaurant.

    Now I live with my mom and I see her routine starting off with working from under the covers in the morning to either setting up camp at the dining room table all day or driving 20 minutes to a quiet coffee shop downtown. I think a co-working situation would be ideal for her: somewhere she could be guaranteed space & electrical outlets any time she needed to get out of the house to work. Something to take the stress out of working in public.

  2. I’ve lived in my condo for practically the same amount of time, but it has been only 3 years that I have had a work from home arrangement with my employer. I also currently don’t live with anyone (or thing…well, besides the occasional mildew culture) so not exactly comparable, but I think close enough to my situation. Besides, it doesn’t matter, I’m going to tell you what I think anyway…
    When I had been promoted 3 years ago, I was in love…with everything, I think at that point; my new job position, my new acquaintances, new furniture, clothes, success in considering myself completely self-sufficient, and feeling I finally attained self-worth. Basically, I was in love with all that which was around me.
    Oh, and I have an absolutely gorgeous view of one of the beaches along Lake Michigan. I remember all the times I told myself to cherish each moment that I could work, yet still marvel in natural beauty.
    Eventually, demands of being promoted started to settle in a little at a time, plus naturally with any career, you want to improve yourself and your value (I guess it’s only a job if don’t feel that way, right?) I stopped greeting each day with vigor, opening the blinds to let the sun rise from the deep blue just to burn into my walls rays of orange and yellow flames. I let myself become comfortable sitting in the wrong chair with the wrong positioning, and even after I managed to break it, I still sat there, trying to make an even more uncomfortable chair more comforting. Why didn’t I just think of throwing it out and finding the best solution (which is better than a better one)?
    Eventually I realized that it’s not good to be working surrounded by feces, you then begin to feel that way.
    1. Move those litter boxes to a place where you aren’t going spend a lot of time! It’s not healthy physically to have your olfactory senses being raped like that constantly and it’s also got to be taxing on your mental stability. Buy a wardrobe or find storage, so you can convert a closet to a ‘KWC’ (kitty water closet), the cats will thank you for their own space too!
    2. Move your desks into a functional position. Why do people insist that a desk must face a wall? The first visual image you get is, ‘I’m up against a wall.’ If I had a partner I loved, I’d much rather have that view all day as I worked. Think unconventionally, could you work side by side, possibly just a small table or surface area dividing the space? Could some of the space become shared workspace for tasks that aren’t used so frequently?
    3. Don’t ask us guys to watch TV with headphones, that would be like having you ask a friend to eat chocolate for you and just describe what they’re tasting. Be the traffic controller of the sounds waves in your home…move speakers so they’re heard best where your watches his annoying manshows without having to turn up the volume so loud (i.e. at ear level and closer to the indent he leaves on the couch/chair). Find a way to create ‘white-noise’ Surprisingly enough new concepts in office floor planning eliminate cubicle and open up the space completely, there’s certain areas where spaces are grouped together with somewhat of separator, but by just standing where you are, you can see everyone on that floor/area. You’d think conversations and other activities would be disturbing, butoffice designers place white noise generators (like fans blowing in just the right areas, so that to the ear, there’s a curtain created). Water fountains also add positive white noise, but with cats, it may not work but I bet they’d love an aquarium.
    4. I try the bed thing every now and then, but my body hurts for days afterwards, besides, beds should only be slept in.
    5. The internet cafes deter me from doing work, the distractions become more interesting than what needs to get accomplished, plus unless it’s just downstairs and/or on the corner, there’s the travel involved…you’d might as well go to an office.
    6. Change your workspace location. I find every two weeks, I move things around, I no longer sit at the desk and watch the lake, I just don’t have time. Also, my condo building now has wifi at the pool, so I’m exciting, this summer I will be able to work poolside!!!
    Well, this was meant to more extensive, but I hope my quick little notes I just happen to jot down will inspire you to get out of your office limbo blahs.
    The main thing is your mental state, get yourself back in love with that which surrounds you (less litter boxes, of course).

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