Home Office Efficiency, Creativity and the Human Element: How Isolation Depletes Creativity and the Need for a New Perspective

Part 2 of 2

This week’s post is the Yang to last week’s Yin. Last week I wrote about the need to disconnect from technology and make the time and space to be alone to be open to truly creative problem solving.

But too much alone time, with or without technology, can be dangerous to the health of you and your business. The other horror of the dystopian world portrayed in the video discussed last week was the isolation. Everyone was living and working with technology as their only companion. Not until 3:30 minutes into this 6:17 video is there personal connection and a real conversation – and that conversation was to supplement data on a computer.

Home offices are lonely - You need another perspective

You need another perspective to work efficiently

The home office is isolating. Usually contact with others when you work at home consists of distractions or people calling you with problems to be solved. You may have contact with people, but rarely is it mutually supportive.

You need a different perspective.

Paul Boag wrote about “The Dangers of Isolation” for Smashing Magazine. Among the dangers he cites are:

  • Your creativity dries-up
  • You loose confidence in your ideas and start second-guessing yourself or,
  • You think all of your ideas are wonderful and follow them to business disaster.
  • You have a single perspective on what you do, which narrows your options.

Getting out of your office and working at your local coffee shop or library can be a break from isolation but it doesn’t give you connection with others.

You need to share your struggles and your ideas with people other than your partner, your kids or your mother. Boag suggests finding a peer or peers you can share ideas and discuss your business with. Get an outside perspective on your business and your projects. Possible partners for perspective can be:

  • A paid consultant or business coach
  • A mentor – someone you respect in your field. This usually needs to be paid and ground rules need to be established, or you could work with someone from SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) for free. An hour a month works well for most people.
  • A colleague or buddy – someone who worked with you at your previous corporate job or a business friend you feel comfortable talking with.

What I have found helpful is to meet with a fellow business person who is NOT in your field, to avoid feelings of competition and the instinct to hold back on your real issues and ideas. Or you can join or establish a MasterMind Group. These mutual support meetings must be characterized by:

  • Trust and confidentiality,
  • Generosity – sharing expertise and experience.
  • Commitment to the other person as well as yourself – to meeting regularly,
  • Accountability to meet goals, work on them between meetings and report in on your progress, and
  • Structure or format the meeting to stay focused on the goals for the group and individual members.

You can see this is different from networking, prospecting or keeping-in-touch. This requires some effort and planning on your part. Do you have a local friend or colleague who might be interested in meeting regularly and making your mutual support more formalized? Do you know of a group of people who meet for mutual support and would be open to a new member? Or, start your own group. What you gain is:

  • Connection and recognition from other professionals.
  • A forum to explore ideas and opportunities while you receive clear-eyed and supportive feedback.
  • Different perspectives.
  • The experience of others that compliments your own areas of expertise.

What Boag does not mention is how to connect. I believe face-to-face connection is best. There is an immediacy and energy in meeting in person that technology cannot touch. Meet at a local coffee shop or book a conference room or study room at your local library. If that is not possible, at least meet via telephone or Skype – inflection and tone of voice can convey a lot. Email is great for messages, but terrible for a real dialogue. The same goes for online chats.

Check out the chapter in my book The Smarter Home Office: 8 simple steps to improving your income, inspiration and comfort called – “The Dilemma of the Home Office: Distractions and Isolation.”

What kind of mutual support system do you have for yourself? How has it helped or not-helped you? Please share in the comments box below.

Photo by Roland  

Comments

  1. Judy Osborne says:

    Great as always.