Working without a workplace

Procrastination Working without a workplace

Published on 20.09.2021 by Kathrin Passig, freelance writer, generative artist

I have taken my working life to bed, to self-chosen workplaces and to co-working spaces. I understand little about life in a traditional office. But permanent positions are becoming more and more like self-employment, and this process was underway long before the pandemic. This means that we – the self-employed – have had considerably more practice in some aspects of the working world as it currently stands, than those with permanent positions.

Working at a location that you picked yourself is not a skill one develops overnight. In the office, there are many structures which shape the work day. These do not always guarantee maximum productivity, but at least they ensure that you are not alone with your productivity concerns. Maybe you don’t even have any.

At a self-determined workplace, the first thing that happens is you lose that good feeling of “I am at work, so everything that I do is work”. Instead, when sitting at home or in a café, everything you do looks like leisure time until proven otherwise. You have to hold yourself accountable as to whether you are actually working every minute. It is even less visible to others than before what you are doing, whether it is work, and whether it is enough work.

Getting used to working in the wild comes in two parts. The first part consists of the realization that the processes that seem natural and simple in the office are not so natural after all. If communicating with colleagues or handling tasks felt more straightforward there, that is not a law of nature but the result of developed structures and common spaces. Even working at home does not function without supportive frameworks like these. We just need to build them for ourselves. Once the pandemic-related restrictions are gone, co-working spaces can take on part of the supportive functions of an office: they can give you a commute, an environment with other working people and ensure that you turn up to work fully clothed. Maybe you can also take your breaks together and have productive water cooler chats.

The second part of the change: we need a realistic representation of how much work can be done in an eight-hour day. At traditional knowledge-based workplaces, on average about five hours of work is done at 50% brain power. The rest is filler. Occasionally, in extraordinary circumstances, someone manages to work at full throttle for eight solid hours – usually just before a deadline for a particularly nice project or powered by an immense amount of caffeine. But this is not a normal occurrence. Moving to working from home has not changed this. It is therefore not only pointless but also counterproductive to worry about having too many distractions or breaks. Beating yourself up is also work, it draws your attention away from more meaningful activities and wears you out. Once you have stopped doing that, then you have nearly completed your working from home training course. All you need now is a few more years of practice!

Due to the current situation, Connecta Bern will again be held as a digital event in 2021. Connecta is renowned for shining a light on the diverse nature of digitization and this year will be no different with content presented across the three formats of Connecta Blog, Connecta TV and Connecta Talk. Find out more here:

Kathrin Passig

Kathrin Passig co-wrote the book “Dinge geregelt kriegen – ohne einen Funken Selbstdisziplin” (Getting things done – without a hint of self-discipline) with Sascha Lobo about the challenges of self-organized working and not-working.

Kathrin Passig

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