Years ago my husband and I found ourselves staying in the same hotel as a whole bunch of military people preparing for a national emergency drill of some sort. In the lobby over drinks, I had to ask, “What do you guys think of the new military uniforms? Are they really easier to deal with?”
The New York Times or some other such source had published a piece about the transition from dress uniforms and ___ to one uniform for all situations. Sewn-on plaques were replaced with velcro; shiny shoes replaced by all-terrain combat boots. Though the article mentioned the practical implications – dry cleaners near bases losing business because of the shift to velcro, for example – it felt like there was more to it.
I was right. “I don’t like them,” one replied. “It’s not that shiny shoes matter, it’s that you could look at new recruit’s shoes and quickly judge their dedication.”
The clothes in which we wrap ourselves send a signal to each other, and ourselves, of our frame of mind and dedication.
I’ve been working from home for four years now and I don’t hate it any less than when I started. I’ve moved offices all over my house, tried different schedules and every manner of trickery to feel like I’m in work mode while I should be working. All those efforts have failed. After spending a week in Seattle and another in training, I remembered how good it felt to be in work mode for a certain period of hours without interrupting thoughts of babies and housework and whether the dogs should be in or out. I remembered that I feel good in work clothes. I remembered how to walk in heels.
In the past two weeks, I’ve gone back to coffee shops for the inspired environment when I have a long to-do list, but I can’t hold conference calls there (not without pissing everyone off). I’ve moved back to the basement office, but then I miss the background noise of other people who are also in work mode. It’s too quiet. (I am in the basement wearing semi-appropriate business wear in an attempt to fool my brain into staying in work mode. The heels are helping.)
The challenge is this: I can ask for assistance in getting space in the Corporate* office of another business in my city. I love the location – right downtown – and can deal with the people (including an ex-boyfriend with whom I had a tumultuous break up). They, however, are not so willing to give me permanent space, even an effing cube. (Clearly that tumultuous break-up lives on in office lore and opinion. In their defense, I was an a-hole when I worked for that business. Much of what I consider my awesomeness I learned while working there, often by doing it wrong first.)
My leadership is willing to insist they give me work space given my position and One Corporate Culture crap yadda yadda, but I’ve been hesitant to be so heavy-handed in case I ever wanted to work with the local business again.
I’m thinking, though, that the ship sailed (read: they decline my requests for office space!) and I really, really, really want a work space that’s not at my home. I kick ass when I’m in work mode; when I’m not, I tend to go through the motions.
What would you do?
*”Corporate” is what I’m calling to call my corporation for purposes of these posts. Still not willing to name the company.
Blog note: turning off the limitation that you have to be logged in to view/ comment. I’ll work on fixing it and testing it better and then turn it back on.