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Home Is Where the Work Is

Finding a sense of place and purpose in midlife. Sheri Radel Rosenberg muses on the joys of working from home.

About a decade ago, I found myself at a crossroads. As an ad agency producer aching to do something new, I asked myself: Where can I go every day that would make me happy? The answer? Nowhere.

Because even though I live in New York City and love to be “in” it, I also love to be home. I am a proud homebody and what I love most of all, besides hanging out in my little nest and setting my very own vibe, is working from home. It’s like my very own studio or atelier. As a creative person sans children who makes a living as a writer, my apartment is perfect. And at this unapologetic point in my life where I’m not down to waste time or energy in any situation that doesn’t serve me, I’ve manifested not just what I do for work, but where I do it.

After all, I was on board with remote work early on. When I worked for a world-renowned trend forecaster, it was the early days of (gah) dial-up, and AIM was a great way to communicate. I clearly remember the need to save all those threads to ensure I didn’t miss a trick. I also remember checking out the trance scene in Israel for a project (ah, the ’90s) and dealing with dial-up from my hotel in Tel Aviv to the tune of $4K for the week (ah, the ’90s again). These were not easy times, but I figured it out and realized that I tend to get more done on my own than in the same room with others.

I never liked an office, and I’ve never been a joiner

I never liked an office, and I’ve never been a joiner. As an empath, being in an office all day, every day (and with everyone), always sucked me bone dry. As far as offices go, my 7-year stint at a legendary Miami ad agency was magic. One day Paris and Nicole would be there filming. The next, the CCO and his crew would roll in on dirt bikes in full Cobra Kai costumes for an ’80s-themed party. There was a sense that anything could happen, and often it did. Plus, the empanada lady. IYKYK. And when the creative department moved to Boulder (way too much fleece for me), we all worked remotely, courtesy of the giant polycoms installed in each conference room, and never skipped a beat.

Also, I’m fortunate to have one superpower: I can work from anywhere.

Stick me in a clown car during a zombie uprising, and I’m good to go. I’m an agility alpha and liken my work style to the Wolf in Pulp Fiction. Show me the bodies and your wifi password. I’ll clean up and be on my way. Don’t get up. I’ll let myself out. 

Before becoming a freelance writer, I was a freelance producer. And after three months in any office, that same itchiness inevitably appeared. Non-joiner. Wolf tendencies. Commitment-phobe. Are you following?

I’m an agility alpha and liken my work style to the Wolf in Pulp Fiction

Once I had my creative epiphany and decided to become a writer, I never looked back. And I was HOME. 

Cue 2020.

Although the reason for all of us becoming homebodies was terrible, staying at home for me was not. I committed to making a cozy space to live/work. I got to spend 24/7 with my beloved senior dog, so that time together was beyond a gift.

But since my pup’s passing, I decided to change scenery and investigate a co-working space. And just like that, the case was closed. I’m not too fond of co-working spaces.

To me, they are a charade in productivity’s clothing. Yes, there are free lattes. And there is no shortage of places to sit, plug in, and “zoom” out. But I have trouble breathing within an hour of sitting in one of those pretty pens for cute professionals. The air is stale, full of millennials not speaking to each other. There is zero vibe even though they try. I feel lonelier there than I ever do at home and not the least bit inspired.

Because you know what’s inspiring?

Not commuting. Not being shot out of a cannon in the am. Not getting dressed, though I do every day. My fav part? No chit-chat. No awkward small talk when you get back from vacation. No worrying that your lunch is smelly or, worse, someone else’s is.

The big caveat here is that, at 52, I’m a seasoned vet that’s been in the shit a hot minute. I see the value in a social office sitch when you are young and growing. The buzz, the camaraderie, the serendipity. Paris and Nicole sightings or the modern equivalent. And it seems that the only people feeling put off by not returning to the office occupy the C suite. Hopefully, they’ll have an office full of bright young people who want to be there too, but I’m not counting on it.

As for me, I’ll be WFH, surrounded by all my favorite things, fixing a cup of coffee with my favorite creamer, and in control of my destiny and schedule.  As Neil Young once said, “Everybody knows this is nowhere.” And my nowhere is my favorite somewhere to be.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Am of the same vibe and tribe. WFH means there are no distractions to slow getting the the requisite done. This allows me spaciousness — time for other things of my choosing. I love the freedom.

  2. I am on both sides of the fence. I ran a gallery in Chicago in the early 90’s and loved going to work. I hated days off and vacation time. I met the most iteresting collectors and sold incredible art. Then I parlayed my time there into a consulting art business of my own and worked from home. Thankfully I’m compulsive and made a success of it by doing something everyday to move it forward even it was just putting a stamp on an envelope. Twenty two years later when I moved to LA I worked at HD Buttercup in Santa Monica and loved going to work among others again and although working for someone else was jolting I love sales! Although I rarely recognized the stars that came in which made everyone laugh. Now I write again from home but COVID produced a lot of writing and extreme lonliness. I hate being inside and walk or bike every day; finally gave up my equestrian career which I miss but have more money. I love writing but not being home ; except like you I need the total quiet to get any words down. Oh well….back to my newest topic.

  3. Oh my. You have nailed every thought in my head. I was a social butterfly and thought I would wither and die working from home. I didn’t. I love it. I am 51 and it feels like working from home has landed at the right time in my life for me.

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Sheri Radel Rosenberghttp://sherimavenblog.com/
Sheri Radel Rosenberg is a Philly-born, Brooklyn-based writer who explores style, beauty, culture, and midlife with wit, warmth, and wisdom. Her story includes successful forays in the worlds of trend forecasting, ad agency photo production, ghostwriting, and strategic messaging development for fashion and beauty brands - all while amassing a slip dress collection that would make any Gen Xer proud. At the dawn of social media, Sheri launched her personal blog–which combines her passion for writing with her style obsession–and she hasn’t looked back. As Style Editor for the AGEIST, she’s inspired by the styles of the 70s and the 90s, along with all the beautiful people she sees daily in NYC.

 

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