Here, three experienced homeworkers share their tips and strategies to do just that. Plus, we explore the new trend of working from home—anywhere.
Many kitchen tables around the world have been the site of long hours as people log on for an additional two to three hours a day when working from home, according to data from NordVPN Teams. Image: Getty Images
“I work in a building that’s linked to my house,” explains award-winning architect Sarah Wigglesworth, who’s worked from her North London home since 1987. “The distractions of personal life can disrupt work, so my advice is to carve out a space within your environment where you can focus. Spatial distance is important, however small. Moving to and from your work area signifies to yourself, and anyone else you live with, that you’re switching from family to work mode.
“I’d also recommend investing in a good chair and creating a setup that can be left in place. And make sure you can see outside: a garden or a patch of sky will help you feel connected, even if you’re alone.”
Wigglesworth designed a separate building, with all of its own amenities, for working from home. If you can’t create quite the same space, she recommends settling on an area that has plenty of natural light and a view of the outdoors.
“People imagine that working from home is lonely, but it isn’t—or at least it wasn’t before the pandemic,” Wigglesworth continues. “Now, I do miss all the micro-connections we make when we cross paths with others. It’s hard to build a collective culture when you don’t occupy the same space, but I meet my clients and team online to retain a sense of community and to have fun.”
Sean Miller, a potter, has worked from home since 1993. “When we lived in London, my workshop was a shed in my garden, but since setting up Poterie de Peillac in Brittany, France, I’ve worked in a converted barn next to our house,” he says.
Millers converted barn in Brittany is the perfect space for his pottery studio, although his sales have now moved online. “I do miss meeting people, and hearing why they have fallen in love with a certain piece,” he admits.
“I find the biggest challenge is separating myself from my work,” Miller says, “but I think that has partly to do with the nature of what I do: making pots is creative, and stopping the process at a given time can be really difficult. Work hours are flexible, depending on family life and on how the making is going—I don’t want to leave it if it’s going well.
“Keeping regular hours can be difficult when you are working from home, but embracing the flexibility along with a good dose of self-discipline is key. For those times when it can get lonely, technology can help to bridge the gap, enabling brainstorming sessions and building a network of people who work in your field.”
“I set up Jane’s Bakes in 2013 from my home in Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, after recovering from cancer,” says cake-maker Jane Gwillim. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue working as a home economist for a television company, and baking was the answer. I could fit it in with being a single parent with two young children, and it was therapeutic.”
Even to a seasoned homeworker, such as Gwillim, the pandemic has posed challenges. “In lockdown I’ve had to mail cakes rather than deliver them,” she says. “It’s really shown me the need for flexibility.” Image: Getty Images
“Because I started the business when my children were young, they’ve grown up knowing that there are times when they can’t use the kitchen. But I’ve always had a stop time, when the kitchen reverts to being the hub of our home. As my business has expanded, I’ve been able to invest in two fridges, two ovens, and to create a designated space for my cake boxes. It’s helped me to better separate work from life, something I believe we all need to adjust to.”
A small—but growing—percentage of homeworkers have decided to take flexible working to the next level, heading for more glamorous locations such as Bermuda, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Anguilla, and Estonia, which offer extended stays to foreigners along with appealing tax incentives.
“The pandemic has reframed the way we work, and people are exploring options that are both personally and professionally rewarding. As a result, we’re seeing more enquiries about moving abroad for a year or so,” says Ronald Ndoro Mind. As CEO of WorkMango, a company which facilitates moves to Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda for its members, he’s well aware of the benefits of working remotely—“our motto is why work from home when you can work from paradise?”
Antigua and Barbuda have introduced long-term residency visa options, allowing foreign nationals to stay, work, and enjoy all the islands have to offer for up to two years.
If you’re considering a work-from-anywhere approach, Ndoro Mind recommends engaging in some research first. “Find out as much as possible about your chosen location and how easy it is to live there,” he advises. “If possible, visit the destination first to see if it will suit you, or look into joining a membership community such as WorkMango, which can do the initial groundwork.”
Once you’ve found out all you can, he says, it’s a case of simply taking the plunge. “Companies have adjusted to their staff working from home, so it is a small next step for them to embrace working from anywhere.”