IPG Children's Publisher of the Year

Working from home - an independent publisher's perspective... with an added competition

Posted by Kate on Mar 01, 2013

One of the Nosy Crows has this very swanky home office

The story about Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Meyer, banning working from home continues to run and to draw comment.

At Nosy Crow, some of us work in the office, some of us work exclusively from home and some of us do a bit of both. We’re small and independent, and so perhaps we have a kind of freedom compared to large corporations, publishing and otherwise, but we try hard to accommodate the specific circumstances of the individuals that we think will be best for the job whether that’s about working from home or working part time.

In a way, I’ll admit, I’d rather have everyone in the office the whole time working the same hours that I work. I’d have a better understanding of the details of individuals’ work (and, given the complexities of publishing, particularly digital publishing, we employ many people who can do things that I don’t have a clue how to do myself). I think we’d have easier, quicker and more efficient communications. And we’d have the benefit of those serendipitous conversations in the office that sometimes give rise to new ways of thinking or doing things.

But…

If we all worked in the office, I think our productivity would suffer. We’ve an open plan office environment, and it can be hard to focus on detailed work against a back-drop of other people’s conversations. Those of us whose job is editing things or making things do seem to be productive when they can get into, or close to a flow) state, and that’s probably best achieved without office life disruptions. While I know that I personally need other people around me to work creatively, other creative people work best on their own.

And, more important, there are individuals who work with us who just… wouldn’t work for us if they had to be in the office all the time. For most of them, it’s a question of geography: people who live in Leicestershire, on the Essex/Suffolk border, or deep into Hertfordshire don’t want to spend big chunks of every working day on an expensive commute to our office in Southwark. And there are people whose family or other commitments mean that they need the flexibility that working from home provides. We’d rather have the people we have working for us in the way that works for them than not working for us at all.

The quotes below from those of us who work between a day a week and full-time from home make me think that those of them who split their time between the office and home probably feel they have the best of it. Here’s what they say about working from home:

Ed says: “The daily commute of 30 seconds is good! The uninterrupted time on my own gives me that quiet space you need to let ideas develop and remain focused on the job at hand. I enjoy being around my family more too, though the post-school, pre-dinner fighting and screaming is something I could do without! You need to be disciplined! it’s easy for work to leak into your evenings and weekends, so it’s important to structure your day so you do have a proper break between your working time and your leisure time, which is easier said than done! Having said that, I do miss being in a shared work space more than I thought I would. Things like everyone knowing what the others are working on and how it’s progressing are things you take for granted in a shared office space.”

Dom says: “I often sell stories in from home as I’m self-conscious in an open plan office about my colleagues hearing me saying the same things a million times … like a double-glazing salesman! AND home is a good place for those chasing e-mails that you have to be in ‘the zone’ for … one after the other … Although, obviously, given how lovely my colleagues are, I thoroughly enjoy my days in the office, so for me the balance is important.”

Kirsty says: “I’m not sure I could do what I currently do if I didn’t do it flexibly and (mostly) from home. It’s of course a very subjective thing and I’m lucky that editing is a fairly solitary process, but I’ve found it easier to work productively and drag small children up at the same time by not being tied to office hours, or having to spend an hour or so a day of precious childcare just getting to my desk. But I would hate not to come into the office at all – it’s a more creative, enjoyable environment and it stops me talking to myself too much, and importantly, it gets me away from the toaster. That said, there’s usually cake, so…”

Will says: “Sometimes it can feel very quiet at home, even with the radio for company. On the other hand, that’s often the time when I have my best ideas…”

AJ, says: “In the nine months I have been working from home, I have grown quite accustomed to being able to juggle work and family life so flexibly. Also, being of a rather nosy disposition, I don’t get side-tracked by irrelevant conversations, which helps productivity! Having said that, your two year-old repeatably leading you by the hand, to see the new mess she has created, is not something I ever worried about in the office.”

Imogen says: “I find I get the nitty-gritty things done at home that I can’t concentrate on in the office – I save up those jobs for a Friday. I have the right balance for me – only working one day a week from home – as I find that it can get a little lonely if you don’t have people around you. I do have the dog and the cat for company but they don’t talk back.”

For the chance to win a much-sought-after Nosy Crow mug…

… can you match the home worker to their at-home-office below?


Office 1


Office 2


Office 3


Office 4


Office 5


Office 6

(So if you think that Imogen works in Office 1, please write, “Imogen: 1”, and so on… Best result/first person to get them all right gets the mug.)

And what do you think? Does working on your own at home aid or hamper productivity? Creativity? Community?

Comments (14)

  1. Okay. I’m entering for fun as I already have a mug.
    Ed 1, Kirsty 2 (having matched the carpet to the one in the picture she tweeted today), Will 3, Imogen 4, Dom 5, AJ 6.

    Mostly guess work, although I am really convinced I’m right about Dom’s lovely table!

    Paula Harrison Friday March 1, 2013 #

  2. 1. Will
    2. Kirsty (sorry Paula – I copied you cos of carpet!)
    3.AJ
    4.Ed
    5. Dom
    6. is Imogen because of the dog!

    Anne Booth Saturday March 2, 2013 #

  3. Sorry, Anne! Apparently I’m wrong about the carpet.

    Paula Harrison Saturday March 2, 2013 #

  4. 1.Dom
    2.Kirsty
    3.AJ
    4.Will
    5.Ed
    6.Imogen

    Emma Collins Saturday March 2, 2013 #

  5. 1. Ed
    2. Kirsty
    3. AJ
    4. Will
    5. Dom
    6. Imogen

    Janine Saturday March 2, 2013 #

  6. Anne is doing best so far, with 3 right. Read the quotes and remember what the individuals do. There are clues in quotes, in the kit the individuals are using, and in whether they’re working in a full-monty office (in which case they’re more likely to work from home more of the time) or just part of the house that they’re using temporarily as an office.

    Kate Wilson Saturday March 2, 2013 #

  7. 1. Will > friends along the top of the computer & he sounds like his job is to be creative;
    2. Dom > multiple screens + phone and & minimalist space > the required focus and tools to be a salesman;
    3. AJ cause she (?)‘s nosy, and I spotted a few crows ;)
    4. Kirsty because it’s neat, organised, has a colour schemed timetable and she’s an editor;
    5. Ed, because he says it hard to keep work and leisure apart!

    Yvonne Cornejo Saturday March 2, 2013 #

  8. …oh no, I forgot 6: Imogen, BECAUSE OF THE DOG!

    Yvonne Cornejo Saturday March 2, 2013 #

  9. 3 right, Yvonne, so Anne’s still doing best. But well done!

    Kate Wilson Sunday March 3, 2013 #

  10. 1. Will
    2. Ed
    3. AJ
    4. Kirsty
    5. Dom
    6. Imogen

    Definately agree that a home office helps creativity. In my ‘other’ job as a teacher, Head allows us planning time at home (not all do) and I get twice as much done as in school. Love my own space when I’m writing and kids are at school, husband at work and I can knuckle down and write without distractions. That is of course if I’m not scouring photos of other people’s offices for clues about who works there…
    All for a mug! It’s what proper writers do though isn’t it?

    Allison Rae Robinson Sunday March 3, 2013 #

  11. Today I have done some of the family laundry, baked 3 loaves, made an Eve’s pudding, listened to Woman’s Hour & tweeted about feminism and have gone on to Nosy Crow’s website specifically to find out if I may be in the running to win a mug. (A very beautiful one, admitted) No one would think I have so much writing to do that I want to lie down at the thought of it. Now, that’s an idea…..

    Anne Booth Monday March 4, 2013 #

  12. Well, although I don’t think anyone got ALL 6 right, the closest person was Allison – congratulations!

    And thank you, everyone, for playing.

    Tom Monday March 4, 2013 #

  13. Excellent! I will feel like a proper writer with it on my desk. Just need to get on and do it now and stop stalking the Nosy Crow website. Very glad to discover Anne has days like mine. I sharpened nine pencils the other day. Thanks Nosy Crow, I will drink champagne from it when my first novel is published!

    Allison Rae Robinson Monday March 4, 2013 #

  14. Congratulations Allison! And hopefully we will both a v productive days tomorrow, now that mug stalking will no longer be an option…

    Anne Booth Monday March 4, 2013 #

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