For a long time I have maintained a home office. For a while this was in the corner of another room, but I’ve been known to build stud-partitions in a bedroom to keep the office space separate.
I don’t believe in having my work space in the same space as my home space. I think it breeds the habit of never switching off. If I can close the door to my office, that’s even better. So whenever I can, I have an allocated office at home.
At our last four homes, the allocated office space has been a double-sized bedroom:
- on the middle floor of a 3-storey town house
- on the first floor of a 17th-century barn conversion
- on the first floor of an old farmhouse
- and right next to the front door in the bungalow
Because they’ve been double bedrooms, we were able to put office spaces in for both of us. The poet historically and traditionally works ‘at work’. But his current job means that he can just as easily work from home. As a musician, though, he has a studio.
During the first lockdown in particular, when he was furloughed and I was still working, he spent a lot of time ‘in the studio’, which just happened to be across the desk from me.
For the past 7 years we’ve shared an office, and it’s always really nice when he’s based at home.
In this current house, however, there is a designated office on the ground floor next to the front door, with a window that looks onto the front garden and long driveway. And there is an odd-shaped room on the first floor that the poet uses as his office/studio.
Both rooms are really nice spaces. But when I’ve not been working on something that must be done at the desktop, or if he’s been on Team calls with lots of people talking a lot, I’ve missed not working with him.
‘His’ room is a lot bigger than my room, but we also intend on putting a bed-settee in that room for when people come to stay. ‘My’ room would fit us both in if he didn’t have so much studio equipment.
Both rooms have comfy chairs in for when one of us is busy and the other is reading or otherwise passing the time. He can sit and faff in his studio to his heart’s content while I sit and read or sew or knit or play games.
However, there are times when one of us can sit and work at a laptop or notebook while the other sits at a desk. But sometimes, I would also like to simply write or hard-copy proofread.
Our solution, then, for when I can set-up and work in his room, or if he only has laptop-work to do in my room, is the pop-up office. It’s a small, fold-up table and chair that are both the right height for desk-work.
We have camping tables that are the wrong height and we have camping chairs that are more for lounging in than working in. Neither is conducive to good ergonomic working. But this current set-up is perfect.
And it is so perfect that we’ve decided to get another chair so that we can include it in the campervan conversion we hope to do one day.
We would like to be able to go off-grid and work on the road (me writing, him taking and developing photographs), and this set-up would work as both a desk and a dining table. It also fits in the boot of the car.
We bought this table and chair on Saturday. (You can still see the tag on the chair!) Both together, they cost less than £30 (apx US$42).
On Sunday afternoon, while the poet did some mixing (with his earphones on), I did some ghostwriting. I don’t usually work at the weekend, but the deadline is this Thursday and I still have a way to go.
I also changed my drafting font to Comic Sans MS. I love Comic Sans, but apparently it’s considered unprofessional and childish and a lot of people hate it. I love it. And when I saw this article, I decided to change my drafting font.
In only one afternoon I wrote 2 chapters, and just under 4,000 words. In one afternoon. That’s amazing.
The device you can see on the table is my notebook/switch. You can also see my 64Gb memory stick. The notebook has Scrivener on so that I can concentrate on writing alone; the memory stick has my critical data on (working files).
I don’t have MS Office on the notebook as it’s far too space- and memory-hungry. It does, however, connect to the internet, albeit quite slowly. And it has Apache OpenOffice on for when I need to work on a text file or a spreadsheet. But the battery lasts for hours.
I also have a laptop that I can use that doesn’t connect to the internet, but it does have MS Office on. And Scrivener. And Apache. I use that when there is a permanent power supply as it’s very battery-hungry.
And that, ladies and gents, is my pop-up office. Do you like it?