When you work from home, you miss out on after-work booze-fests with co-workers, nobody's there to crowd around your desk with a cake on your birthday, and you can't hand off your malfunctioning laptop for IT to handle. Beyond that, however, it's pretty freaking awesome.
Just ask these five career girls — including a poet, style blogger, and beyond-quirky illustrator — each of whom has nixed the corporate cubicle life in favour of a flexible at-home career in which they call the shots (and sneak in an episode of Dexter when there's time). Here, they talk about avoiding distractions, getting motivated, and creating incredible workspaces that inspire them — and us.
Click through to see these ladies at work in their unique office spaces, but be warned: You may never be able to go back to your soulless "open plan" office again.
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Photographed by Claire Pepper
, founder of LiketteWhat is the biggest challenge about working from home?
"I was always fine working from home, but I’ve done it for a few years now. The longer you do it, you [start to] miss the social part of being with other people in the office. I think that’s the biggest struggle."
Belgravia-based Laura wears a Kenzo top, Topshop jeans, and Valentino heels.
What is your favourite thing about your desk set-up?
"I think it’s my Philippe Starck lamp. I’ve had it for a few years now, travelling from home to home. It gives me a really homey feeling when it’s sitting at the desk."
What keepsakes stand out to you?
"I keep these funny birthday cards from my best friend…it makes me smile every morning when I sit down at the desk. The other two are invites, and one of them is actually an invitation to a dinner at Windsor Castle. The invitation came from Buckingham Palace, so I thought that was really cool. And there’s also a card there which is showing some clouds, because I have a cloud obsession."
Do you have typical work hours?
"I work extremely well in the evenings. In the afternoons I kind of struggle, so I tend to set up meetings for then so I have to go out. I work really well on a lonely evening, and in the morning I’ll do emails and things like that."
, graphic designer, photographer, and blogger at Park + CubeWhat sort of conditions help you work best?
"I like having a lot of colour around me, and I like open space and light. For the photo editing process, though, I usually turn around so that I’m not facing the light and sometimes I set up something to cover the monitor [to block out the light]. Sometimes I switch things up and turn the table that way, or this way, sometimes I go upstairs…I quite like the change in scenery."
Shini gets to work at her Dalston studio in a Next jumper and an ASOS cuff.
The ultimate desk accessory: a giant bottle of Chloé fragrance.
Do you have any tips for working at home?
"Get dressed as if you’re going out to work. If you’re in your pyjamas, it’s so easy to slink into your bed, and there’s no boundary. And make some bits of the house off-limits during work hours. Don’t take a nap, and limit yourself as to what you eat. I feel like I get rid of our dinner stuff during the day, just eating what’s in the fridge. And I guess if you can afford it, also make yourself a different room to work in. We’re in a studio so it’s hard to divide the space up, but if you have the room, it’s nice to not work where you’re meant to live, especially where the bed is."
Do you listen to music while you’re working?
"I do when I’m editing photos, but I don’t when I’m trying to post. I need total silence when I need to post. I won’t even let him [her husband] talk. Otherwise, I like a lot of metal, or soft rock, whatever, just playing in the background."
Hattie Stewart, illustratorThis place is unbelievable! What are some of your favourite items in here?
"Franklin, the skull, is one of my favourites. I stole him from my college’s art department. My friends and I were having a pirate party, so I stole him. They were using him for still-life and they tried to search for him for years. I felt so bad but I couldn’t own up to it, but hopefully now my art teacher won’t mind."
Hattie rocks a tee featuring her own drawings from her Shoreditch space.
Do you have any rules for working at home without distraction?
"I try to keep things flexible so I don’t get too stressed. But obviously just the standard things like get out bed, don’t slob… I get dressed as if I’m going to work, so I’m not in sweatpants and no makeup. I want to feel like I’ve made an effort. I try to stay off social media, but I think that’s the same for everyone, no matter where they work."
What’s your favourite thing about working at home?
"The flexibility and the freedom. It’s nice to be able to work to your own timetable. It’s hard to maintain the motivation if you’re hungover or having an off day, so you can just stay in bed and kind of indulge in it. I like the fact that if I did want to take some time off, I can make up for it later because everything’s on my time."
Do you listen to music while you're drawing?
"If I don’t listen to music, I usually watch documentaries and films. Music-wise, unless there’s a new album that I like, my main thing is usually golden oldies. There’s this one radio station you can find on iTunes called Jammin 105
. It plays golden oldies all day long. It’s so fun. Documentary-wise, literally anything. I watched a film called Blackfish
the other day, The Act of Killing
, there’s just so many. My main thing used to be the bonus features on The Lord of The Rings — there’s like 12 hours’ worth! Whenever I had a big project I just put that on because it’s the kind of thing you can step back and watch, but you don’t have to be totally focused on."
, freelance journalist, illustrator, and blogger at Canned FashionWhat's your favourite part of your work area?
"I love the shelves with everything that I love in front of me when I’m working, my little toys, all the photos of my family. I love seeing them on a daily basis."
Natalie works from South Kensington in a Luella tee and Topshop trousers.
Are you a neat freak or is clutter a part of the job?
"I prefer to work when it’s neat. I’m more productive when everything is neat, but when I have a deadline, everything gets really chaotic while I’m writing and researching, especially when I’m illustrating. That’s when everything goes everywhere."
What do you love most about working from home?
"Not having to commute, because I really hate getting on the Tube in London. That’s a huge luxury. And just being able to focus. When I’m in an office I tend to chat to my colleagues. I feel much more efficient when I’m at home."
And the worst part?
"If I have a long day, I won’t see another soul for more than 12 hours. But I do like having my own company, so that’s not so bad."
What sort of things are crucial to a productive work environment?
"I definitely like to have music playing. Usually when I’m just on my own I like stuff like Don McLean and Lee Hazlewood, sort of old-school Wayfarer-y men. I like to have lots of books to read and get inspired [by], because that’s usually the start of something. I like to have noise from the outside [coming through the window]. It makes me feel really motivated because I’m like, ‘Aha, you’re all out there doing things while I’m in my little cove.’"
Working from her Central London flat, Greta gets creative in an Agnès B jumper, Urban Outfitters skirt, and Topshop shoes.
Tell us about the book you're working on, To December: A Devolution to She.
"It's out in December, and it's a collection of 86 poems, all kind of about the female and nature. It comes in eight sections, titled crime, trains, love, nature, place, and so forth."
When you’re not working here, you mentioned that you like to head to the London Library.
"It’s so inspiring, and you can keep a low profile. It’s got so many interesting characters. And because it’s open-air, you can just pick any books up off the shelves rather than going to the British Library, where you have to source everything online. I always bring my laptop and my notepad because I have so many lists to write. At the moment I’m editing a poetry book which comes out in March, so I’ve got loads of different transcriptions to bring with me. And I always bring music too."
What do you love most about working from home?
"Just knowing that I’m in Central London and there’s so much stuff happening, but I can just find your own kind of stillness. It’s like your own little private den. It’s quite powerful."