One of the beauties of working remotely should be the idea to work from anywhere. So why do I crave/need an office?
When I first started working remotely, I was happy to work from any terrace I could find with decent WiFi. Working outdoors was the dream. And I flitted from my little patio in our first pad in Granada only moving to the stunning terrace at my language school or a local tapas bar when my husband was using up the bandwidth of the WiFi to do Skype calls or YouTube uploads.
But that was at the beginning when I was working only part time due to a non-compete clause in my last work contract that restricted my commercial endeavours.
When we moved to a new place in Granada, at first I was there solo and work was only just starting to ramp up, I loved working from the secret walled garden I had, but the WiFi wasn’t that strong and so occasionally I went to a flexible co working spot in town Errant Work Space when I had some big files to send or needed more bandwidth.
By the time I was doing 40 hours plus again I realised how much I loved that flat, it was my refuge and if I did a full on work week there I would probably grow to hate it. And so I took a permanent desk at a co-working spot in Granada. Gran Via Co-working, which boasts an enormous terrace and the most magnificent views of this city.
Planning our move to Madrid post COVID from the comfort of the Caribbean, initially taking a co-working office felt like an unnecessary risk and expense in a city that had been hit hard by the pandemic. But when I collected the keys to my new flat last Monday, it took me all of 12 hours to realise I did indeed need an office to work.
There is a small desk in my new bedroom but I didn’t really want to bring work into my bedroom, I have enough problems switching off to sleep sometimes. We have a second bedroom but it is very much my husband’s studio.
I can’t work on our terrace – it is a sun trap and far too hot. I could work downstairs in the living room but one day of trying to work while being sat comfy on the sofa was not helping my focus and also the occasional interruptions – although nice ones about fixing me a drink etc we’re ruining my flow.
When I’m home I want to be home. When I work I want to be at work.
But waiting in yesterday for the WiFi to be installed and having the place to myself I realised that it is not my husband distracting me at all. I just work better and more productively from an office. Where I can close the door and get to work without my mind wandering too much.
I can sometimes work pretty long hours as I work across multiple time zones and do a mix of GMT & ET hours and I want to be as focused as possible to get the work done and then when I am home, really be home and try and switch off a bit. I generally switch off alerts /notifications aside from WhatsApp when I’m home which if I’ve done things right should be okay, clients can still call if there’s something urgent or WhatsApp.
Finding balance has been a perennial challenge for me, I go hard and give 100 but having an office helps me compartmentalise a bit and go home to chill and be refreshed to tackle everything anew again the next day.
My new office has a decent terrace, much bigger than my one at my Madrid pad, it doesn’t quite have the views I enjoyed before in my old office – there are no snow-capped Sierra Nevada or Alhambra here in Madrid but I’m actually looking forward to being out here during my breaks at sunset and continuing my tradition of pressing pause during golden hour.
I work using a Pomodoro system to get into a flow, 25 minutes work, 5 minutes break and then a longer break once every few hours in which to daydream or tweet or just take a break and do something else.
Also re COVID concerns, this office is not open plan and shared, instead I have my very own private locked office. I wear a mask coming in, take the stairs up to the fifth floor instead of the lift, which will help keep me fit and keep the mask on in the communal corridors only de-masking outside on the terrace or in the sanctity of my new private office. The downside is there is less opportunity for social interaction and making friends here than in an open plan set up but hopefully I’ll be able to meet a few people out on the terrace or will just have to look elsewhere to build connections in the city.
One tip though when looking for office space in Spain is check the office hours. I generally need 24 hour access as I work on US time zone mostly, and many of the shared office spaces close around 3pm unless you have keys…
Am I alone in struggling to work effectively from home? Or if you do work from home or remotely, how do you make it work? And be able to stay focused but also later switch off?
Recommended Co-working spots in Granada
Recommended co-working spots in Madrid