Dutch Smiling Yogi is my third company. One without an office. I don’t believe in offices for most companies. You? Here are my five reasons why you don’t need (to work in) an office. Maybe they inspire you as well to ‘step out of the office’ and be free. Who knows: one day you’ll work ‘on the road’ as well.
1 – Better for your health
Most offices I worked in had something of an air-conditioning system or a climate control. It mostly meant air was blown around in the office to make the climate ‘fresher’. It’s a nice sales talk the companies who create those products do. If it was just air those systems were ‘blowing around’ it would be okay, but they are very good in spreading bacillus as well.
But you don’t need those systems to get sick. If your colleagues are sick they will help you to get sick as well. And what about all the dust? In the Netherlands most offices aren’t cleaned properly. Because of regulations the cleaners are only allowed to clean ’empty desk spaces’. They can’t move piles with papers or any other stuff. I’ve got no clue how tidy your colleagues are, but when I worked in journalism for a newspaper there where tons of piles with paper and God knows what around me; collecting dust, bacteria and other stuff I prefer not to have in my system.
If you work at home or partly in a community building it’s just you or at least you have the option to work by yourself if you want when there are a lot of people around.
Healthy offices aren’t the most healthy places as well. At least in the Netherlands they are not. I’ve got no clue who normally gets hired to create them, but they are dull, grey and often dark. At the two newspapers I worked, Brabants Dagblad and AD, all windows were covered with blinds to keep daylight out. I loved to open them, but a lot of colleagues would complain they couldn’t see anything on their screen if the blinds were open. I felt like a mole.
In countries as Norway, where in winter there is hardly any daylight, it’s well known that we need daylight to feel happy. There is a lot of research done on this topic. Being in an office without a lot of windows of with windows covered effects our mental health and won’t stimulate you to work harder.
Having colleagues is nice, but you’ll have a lot of colleagues around you who love to spent their time complaining. And what to think about all the competition. Colleagues who are after your position or feel threatened by you, envy you or just don’t like you. Working from home or at least working away from an office doesn’t mean you don’t have colleagues anymore, it does mean you will spent less time being surrounded by them.
2 – Better for your productivity
A lot of bosses won’t let you work at home. They are afraid you won’t be productive. To bad they live out of fear. Unnecessary as well. I’ve been self employed for nine years now. I think I’m pretty productive. If you have a job to do, you have a job to do. Looking back at my days in the office I saw a lot of time being wasted on talking and on smoking. Especially since you can’t smoke in the office anymore; which I think is a good thing. But my smoking colleagues use to walk outside in small groups, have their cigarette and stay away for ages. Somehow that’s accepted. I think it’s a waste of time. Same for all the coffee machine chats.
Nowadays everybody has their private phone with them and almost everybody has a computer in front of their nose. I see so many of my friends who have office jobs online all day. Hours and hours are spent on social media inside offices.
I’ve got a task list with what I have to do every day. If people work at home they can have a task list as well. I admit: on nice, sunny days I do spent some time in the garden. I use to work upstairs in my house in the Netherlands. I would walk downstairs to make a cup of tea, see my cats play in the garden and I would join them. It just meant I had to do some work in the evening to get all my tasks finished. I still produced what I had to do, just divided over the day.
3 – Technology makes working in an office unessential
When I was 18 years old and started my working career I had to go to the office. Computers were big main frames and personal computers were rare. A lot have changed in the last 25 years. At my last job at the newspaper AD I had a business phone and laptop. I went to the office for the meetings, but a lot of work I already did at home. We just logged in and wrote our stories directly on the ‘pages’. The newspaper use to have a lot of different offices spread out over the South off the Netherlands. One by one they were closed down and the journalist started to work at home. Only coming to the main office once a week for a big meeting.
Travelling around the world, teaching yoga, I meet more and more digital nomads who work on the road. They have found different ways to make money and do what they love: travel. They work without an office. I see them in hostels, hotels, bars and restaurants. Their computer and phone is their office. The only thing they need is wifi. Their office is were their laptop is.
4 – Better for the environment
I don’t know how your country looks like, but the Netherlands is grey. Our national color is orange, but the truth is: our country looks grey. Grey of all the buildings and all the asphalt. We don’t really need those big, wide roads. I know our political party the VVD is promoting them, but they never think off the environment, they only think of euros. They have no long term vision and are willing to destroy mother earth for short term profit. The only reason we need big roads is because every morning and every evening the whole country is standing in a big traffic jam. Why? To get to the office.
Less offices means less concrete means less need for asphalt which means more room for nature and – thanks to that – a better environment. Flowers instead of asphalt, trees instead of buildings. I know not all offices can go, but we can get rid of a lot.
5 – Better for you wallet
I read an interesting vision of Swami Satchidananda in his book To know Yourself. He said: “You need a car to get to work, you need clothes for your work. So where are you working for? To pay for that car and to pay for those clothes you need for your work.” It’s true. a lot of my friends wear a suit for their work. As soon as they come home they take it of. They don’t like to wear it, they just need it because of work. Same for the car. When I returned to the Netherlands after my trip through Australia (summer 1999 – summer 2000) I needed a car for my new job. I worked till late at night at Brabants Dagblad and without a car I couldn’t get home. All the money I made in the first year went to pay of my car. How crazy is that?
Same with a lot of small businesses. Renting an office is expensive. When I had my yoga school I payed more than half of the money I made on rent. In this case I needed a space, but a lot of entrepreneurs have an office because ‘that’s what you do’. Why? As I said: technology makes life without an office possible.
And now what?
You probably think: it’s easy when you work on your own. Yes it is. But also for other companies. Think outside the box. Do you really need an office? Maybe a little space to put a central computer down is enough.
But don’t I like to have colleagues? Yes I do. But a lot of city have got shared office spaces where you can rent a desk for one or more days a week. If you go there, you are surrounded by other workers. The good thing is: they all have their own line of work. If you brainstorm with them you get influenced by other disciplines. A place like that is always close by, so you don’t have to spent hours in a traffic jam to get there and you decide your own working hours. You can go one or two days and stay the rest of the week at home. Saving money, saving time.
What about meetings? What about them? A lot of meetings is talking for the sake of talking. I like meetings to be effective. I think more than half of the meetings can be canceled. And if you need them, there is always a solution. In the Netherlands for instance hotels offer spaces for meetings. Instead of an expensive office you have to pay for day by day you rent a meeting room in a hotel once every month. And why go to a hotel or meetings space? I had a meeting yesterday and a follow up meeting today with Sara Bigatti of La Scimmia Yoga. We held it in the park in Monza, Italy. Enjoying the sun, enjoying some focaccia bread and a cup of tea. Healthier, nicer and more fun than being in a office.