A Brave New World
We all have a different view of what the out of office message means. It might be the odd day’s leave notification by a diligent member of staff. It could be that holding message because they are not coming back, or anything in between. What about those who don’t actually work in an office? Coaches, independent consultants and many other professions don’t. They alternate between home, co-working spaces and client premises. When you move into this mode of working the sense of freedom can mask the isolation. No more first in and last to leave games, no more agonizing over how to score the best points in an internal meeting, no more office politics. You have become your own master, who wouldn’t want that? However, who is there to compete or commiserate when you no longer have that social support structure.
I recall an early trial that British Telecom ran in Elgin in central Scotland. Directory enquiry staff worked from home and one of the main findings of the trial was the high levels of isolation. The trial staff did not like the feeling of being on their own. During the trial video links were installed so that the trial staff could see their colleagues. A simple example of how we crave the company of others, whether personally or professionally. When you do not have a central support system you need to at least acknowledge that. How you deal will it depends on your make up.
No Office – Managing The Upside
The freedom to build your own business, to create your own destiny is an attractive proposition. As you put your plans together an important element is to make sure you create some time for you. Talk and meet with others in the same field or indeed any field who are working for themselves. The office routine is gone and that needs to be replaced with a structure that fits with your work habit. The systems and technology you need to run your business is now your choice. Make sure they are fit for purpose and you can afford them. The list goes on and it is little more than good practice. It’s similar to the effort you would put into any new project when you worked in an office.
In the coaching and consulting industry there are plenty of associations and magazines to join and subscribe to. Choose those that fit your style of coaching or consulting best and if possible reflect your client type. The task is to build on your current knowledge in your chosen field in the first instance. You can expand into others later, the grass is not greener! Use any association you join as a social support network as well. Remove that sense of isolation by building you professional community connections. I would caution to build that slowly so that you can build in some trust to those connections. You never know when you might need to turn to them.