A while back when we met in this column I wrote about the challenges of working out of your home in an area the size of a mid-sized couch. As those wonder kids at Apple Computers demonstrated, however, working from your basement, closet or garage just doesn’t cut the mayonnaise after a while. So if you’ve implemented all the creative space-saving suggestions I’ve made in previous columns such as converting your car into a mobile filing cabinet, and find that you still don’t have room to change your socks, it may be time to morph your in-house business into an out-house business.
For some of us, this is a scary thought. It might even conjure up images of salmon returning upstream to their place of birth. After all, many of us grew up in offices and swam out to the country or suburbs to settle down and make a living out of our adult homes. Going back to our spawning beds is fraught with potential pitfalls and unknown hazards.
Relax. Growing beyond your office doesn’t have to be a frightening experience, particularly if you take your home with you. The challenge is to grow bigger without forgoing the numerous benefits of working from your home. Here are a few ways to make sure this doesn’t happen.
1. Expand into someone else’s home, preferably your next door neighbor’s (that way you won’t have far to commute). If you cut a copy of their keys the next time you volunteer to water their plants and manage your time effectively, they won’t even have to know you’re working out of their home.
2. Invest in a motor home. (Or conversely attach a motor to your existing home). It’s a similar idea to the mobile filing cabinet concept, only this involves setting up your entire office in a motor home, complete with big screen television, Jacuzzi, ping pong table, sofa and all the other necessary tools of a well-stocked home office.
3. Move into a downtown office, but bring your family, furniture and pets with you. This is simply the opposite of establishing an office in your home. Instead of a home office, you’ve created an office home, a unique alternative that will tell the world you are truly unique, and possibly in need of professional help.
4. Use existing empty office space. Without telling anyone. The key to this strategy is to seek out business that are undergoing lots of organizational changes and downsizing. These companies always have extra offices sitting empty, and with all the confusion going on, people won’t clue into the fact that you don’t actually work there for at least 2 or 3 years. Look confident, like you actually belong there, smile and say good morning to everyone you pass. Learning a few key names of your “co-workers,” participating in water cooler discussions and even attending some of their social events will help you merge seamlessly into the fabric of the organization. By keeping your conversations general enough, everyone will assume you’re the “new guy/gal shipped out from head office.” Working out of their office rent-free, using their photocopier and drinking their coffee may seem unethical on the surface, but let’s face reality, any company that doesn’t know you don’t really belong there is clearly flushing large sums of money down the toilet anyway.
5. Move into Bill Gates’ home. Bill, as has been widely reported in the media, is expanding his 87,000 acre, 894-room home (I’m not sure of the exact figures, but I think these might either be close or way off the mark.). Clearly, this is a place where many of us could make ourselves right at home without being noticed for years, if ever. And the wonderful thing working out of Bill’s home is, you know it’s going to be well set up for all your technological needs.
If you are still a little nervous about moving up and out in the world, keep in mind one simple truth. Unlike the spawning salmon, if things don’t work out in your new “home-office-away-from-your-real-home-office,” you can always go home.
Copyright Michael Kerr. Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker, very funny motivational speaker, trainer, and author of six books, including Inspiring Workplaces and The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank. www.HumoratWork.com
“Just wanted to say “WOW!” Our group has had many speakers over the years, but none the likes of Mike Kerr.”
Richard Dansereau, President, NAPA Autopro BDG
“Michael Kerr is one of the best speakers I have seen. I highly recommend him!”
Veronica D. Bouvier, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Aspen Properties Ltd.
“Mike held the full attention of our senior management team for a full FOUR hour
presentation – no small accomplishment!”
Martine Rothblatt, CEO, United Therapeutics
“Our participants rated you as the speaker with the highest quality and relevance.”
Lana J. Larocque, Alberta Human Resources