In March I changed my work setting. I left my job of almost seven years and moved to independent marketing consulting and writing. Although I have my share of meetings at client sites and in coffee shops, I typically work and write in my home office.
What I feared
I’m an introvert. I’m restored by quiet and work productively alone. That means I should like this situation, and I do. Yet, I was worried I might get isolated or isolate myself. The work I do requires me to reach out to others, for expertise, for feedback, for work, so I haven’t gone underground, it’s not possible.
I was worried I’d “go native” with the cats, get even more quiet and watchful. While that’s kind of a joke, I did think that being social was like a muscle. If I didn’t exercise it or keep in practice, I would drop back to previous levels of social awkwardness. In the last few months, I have had my usual share of awkward moments, but I don’t know if it is more or less than before. Probably about the same.
When I left my position, I thought I’d miss my team–I do miss them individually and as a group. I have to make a team or gather input from people less officially connected to my fate and my projects. It is a little more conscious and less spontaneous now, but others are still available. While I’m mostly on my own during the day, I’m hardly solo. Friends, collaborators, and mentors are as close as a phone call, an email, or a drive across town to a lunch date.
What surprised me
I thought I loved our open, collaborative workspace. Yet, I find working in a quiet office has increased my feeling of well-being. When I worked in a leadership position in our open office, I felt I was on-stage and yearned for privacy and quiet in my off-hours. I found myself procrastinating returning personal phone calls on weekends and weeknights. I sometimes felt overwhelmed by the need to be social, engaging, upbeat.
I am finding more social energy now that my need for quiet and privacy are better met. So my social reserve is more like a well, it needs time to replenish, and it is less like a muscle that needs to be kept in shape.
Clients and colleagues have offered me drop-in space at their offices, and Ann Arbor offers a great coworking space, the Workantile. So I have options if I need to work near others. Hasn’t happened yet, but it is nice to have a choice.