Home offices have some great upsides, don’t they? The company, commute, and free coffee make it such a popular option. But there are some serious challenges that they pose as well.
- Distractions – Now, this is true for anyone in any context (the truth is that if you’re looking for something to distract you, you’ll find it), but a home office is ripe with options. For most of us, a television with ESPN is enough to keep our attention for countless hours – even if it’s the same news stories over and over. Others will be distracted by the kids as they run around the house, requesting “super-daddy-style” chocolate milk or your iphone so they can play Angry Birds. Children are blessings to be sure, but they’re blessings that can render your day unproductive in a hurry.
- Chaos breeds chaos – I learned something in college – I can’t organize my thoughts in a chaotic space. That meant that I either needed to choose kind and clean roommates or study elsewhere – I studied elsewhere (when I opted to study at all). But anytime I need to work on something, I feel a need to clean wherever I’m working in order to organize my thoughts. Call me OCD, but I’ll bet you have a similar tendency. A home is, by definition, a lived-in space and life happens. Houses don’t necessarily have to be filthy in order to cause distraction. If you can’t organize your thoughts amid the mess at the table, or on the floor, or in the garage, or in the laundry room, or (I could keep going…), you won’t be able to get much done. The result is typically a clean(er) house and less work accomplished (unless you’re Tina Fey in the picture above).
- No Neutral Ground – Ministry is a unique calling. We often work for extended amounts of time in prayer and study, but also need to meet with people for accountability, for counseling, and just for relationship building. I’ve discovered that there are some meetings that work best in the home, but there are others still that I prefer having in a neutral space. Besides, you’ll wife will love you more if you stop inviting people over and forgetting to let her know until the last minute.
- Keeping Safe Distance – This goes along with the previous point a bit, but I felt it merited it’s own consideration. There is a powerful intimacy added to the relationship when you invite them into your home. That intimacy can be (and often is) abused by both the pastor and the one whom he invites into his home. If your husband or wife is not present, there is NO reason or excuse for having someone of the opposite sex in your home. You’d only be inviting an affair to happen. Stop it! You’re not being transparent or genuine or authentic or missional or incarnational or any other buzzword that you’d like to prefer. You’re being stupid.
- Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder… Unless You’re Never Absent – Now, before you rake me over the coals, this point actually came about through a conversation with my wife. Working from home is wonderful. It’s awesome to knock out some work from the kitchen table while talking with my wife who is washing the dishes. But after a few weeks, it’s better for your marriage if you get out of the house. Because she’s not as excited about you getting things knocked out when you’re fixing the way she washes dishes and inform her whenever the clothes need switching over. And you’re less likely to enjoy working from home if you’re designated the answer any time the baby starts crying, needs changing, or just needs to be watched. Plus, there’s a sweetness to coming back together after being apart that you miss out on if you never part to begin with.
With that in mind, I think a home office is a good option to use sparingly, but I would simply not consider it a full-time option.
Am I wrong? Enlighten me…