Ever since I stopped working for "The Man", back before the turn of the century (does that make me sound old or experienced? :-), I've been working from home.

While I was single, it was easy enough. But marriage and children have made it a bit more challenging. For example, at this very moment, my 9-year-old is interrupting me.

Okay, I'm back. I asked him what's up, and he said, "I don't know." I guess he was bored, so he came looking for dad. I let him know I'm trying to work, and fortunately, he recognized the importance of that and went looking for something else to do.

Working from home when you don't live alone opens you up to these kinds of interruptions. When I'm programming or doing other work that requires high levels of concentration, they can be particularly disruptive.

Back in June, John Mitchell posted several tips for people working from home. Here's one:

Create a work space : While it seems obvious many people that have worked from home have discovered that it's much easier to work from home if you have a dedicated space or room that you can use just for work... That way, psychologically you are "going to work" rather than spending time sitting at the dining room table (it also means that you don't have to clear the table before every meal if you "double use" the table for example). It also means that the rest of the family know that when dad or mum is at their work area that they are at work and shouldn't be interrupted unless it's important.

When I first got married, my "office" was in the living room. That lasted until my first son was 2 and my daughter was born. Since then, thankfully, I've had an office. My current office is at the far end of the basement, which shields me somewhat from distractions.

But even so, the kids drop in once in a while. Even with a separate, relatively secluded workspace, they (and even my wife, sometimes, though infrequently now) need regular reminders that when dad's in the office, he's at work, and, as John said, should only be interrupted when necessary.

Reader Comment:
Nikole Fairview said:
I definitely know what you mean about interruptions. I have lost countless trains of thought because of interruptions. Many people think working at home is like a vacation, and I do appreciate the freedom it affords me and it is much, much better t...
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Having an office away from home would solve that problem. But at what cost?

  • There'd be the price of the office space.
  • I'd need another computer, desk, chair, etc., if I wanted to have one for myself at home (which I would :-).
  • There'd be travel time getting to and from the office, and possibly gas, if it wasn't within walking or biking distance.

That last point is a big one for the purposes of this discussion. If the point of getting an office away from home is to save time by reducing interruptions, would the time saved outweigh the time lost to travel? It depends on how frequent and severe the interruptions are, and how far I'd have to travel. In my case, it's unlikely it'd save time -- at least not now that the kids have gotten better about letting me work.

There have been times in the past when I might have chosen to have an outside office if I could have afforded it. But at this point, working at home suits me well.

If you've worked at home and then gotten an office, or vice versa, what has your experience been? What advantages have you seen in one or the other?