Trouble At The Home Office
This week’s challenge is to create two separate offices in one open-plan flat without damaging the way either of us work. We don’t want to wreck the design integrity or leave cables and peripherals all over the place.
The first idea was to fit a desk where those two sofa units at the front currently sit, but a desk looks ridiculous plonked into the room, and I want to live in a home, not an office. It couldn’t have looked more officey if I’d chucked Pret sandwiches all over the flat surfaces.
Then I thought; all of my storage is in the Cloud and I don’t work from notes (nearly everything is in my head) so I can hot-desk easily. If a second person is required to work at home 3 days a week why have two dedicated desks at all?
Hot-desking sounds easier than it is. The spouse’s work apparently requires an abnormally huge curved screen with a dozen windows open, laptop, second keyboard, mouse, back-up laptop, sidecar & mirroring on iPad, plus paperwork. You can’t just lug that around.
His secret plan for the integration of the workspaces is to nick my office and glass-legged table. I may even have light-heartedly suggested it because I’m not exactly a wolf when it comes to territorial marking. I’m relatively happy switching my lovely iMac for a titchy laptop partly because lately it’s not been possible to comfortably sit at a desk. But that’s changing now, and I’m ready to work again.
Writers are fussy about where they sit because writing a novel is not writing an email, an article or a paper. It requires a peculiar long-term mindset and a lot of calm concentration or you never break inside your world. If I leave a novel alone for 3 days it will require a 2 hour warm-up on the 4th day before I can start. I have not worked on a novel in three months.
So, plan 2; I’ll ‘float’ between armchair, table, available flat surface. But that’s not as simple as it sounds. I also use an iPad, which I can sidecar to the laptop. And laptop writing on my actual lap puts the screen too low for me, so I strain forward all the time, hunching.
What I need is something that looks like a breakfast tray and can loom over the side of any chair, like a Victorian school desk but you know, Danish design. Is that too much to ask? Reader, I found one. It arrives tomorrow from Denmark. I already suspect it is too small.
I realise that my attitude, modern though it may seem, is still too old-fashioned. I love the iMac because I play music all day from my library, which is pre-downloaded – nobody does this anymore. I’ve been tethered to the iMac out of sentimentality, not practicality. It’s a nice habit, sitting down in your same chair in the same place every day. Probably the best way to discover new working methods is to force them on yourself, in the same way that our local shops found ingenious solutions for serving during Lockdown.
So I’ll create a new type of virtual office. But if it doesn’t work, I’m going to take back my space in a way that will make the annexation of the Sudetenland look like bagsying a Benidorm beach chair.