Work From Home: The Meaning Of Space

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I was listening to the book Atomic Habits, when the author spoke about space that one works in. That got me thinking about what the spaces we live and work in mean for us while working from home during the Pandemic.

Sure, we’ve all heard the advice on space usage. Have different spaces for different things like work and gaming. Don’t have work stuff in your bedroom. If you can’t have separate spaces have separate zones, and so on. Have one place one use.

But now we’re stuck indoors. We’re probably Working From Home (WFH)

We’re not able to go out to other spaces.

And there’s a chance you’re working, eating, sleeping, cooking, and binge-watching Netflix under restrained conditions.

So what does space mean to us now? What will it mean to us afterwards? When we WFH more, what will we do to rethink our homes and spaces? Honestly, we’re not ready for it.

But more WFH means we have to be. Because bad use of space is bad productivity and not good for us mentally.

So a few thoughts

  1. Organizations moving to more WFH need to do research and provide advice and equipment so people use space effectively. We can’t count on people to do it effectively because they’re doing it turning a traumatic time. They may need some help.
  2. We ourselves need to figure out how to WFH and make best use of space. This doesn’t mean just reading a book. We need to help each other out, be supportive, share advice.
  3. If you’ve tried shopping for certain office supplies, then you’ll notice some are hard to come by. Will this change? Probably – but we’ll want to plan our purchases ahead, and maybe look at discount and used office supplies (that may pile up with the changes).
  4. Once the Pandemic is under control (I expect it to become like the flu) the meaning of public spaces will change. There may be more people working at the library, a park, a coffee shop, etc. People may want or need different spaces, and there may be more of them (I’ve had many a writing session move due to a crowded coffee shop)
  5. All our other relations will change as we work from home – what we’re experiencing now is the intense, involuntary reminder. We may know our neighbors more, we may want our kids out more, our marriages will change, etc. We need to start learning now – voluntarily, as opposed to the way this was forced on us.

We’re going to have to think aboutspace in the new world of more Work From Home. We may be tired of being in the same space, but that just means we have more to consider . . .

Steven Savage

Physical Space, New Perspective

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

As of this blog posting, I’ve been working from home nearly five months. This has required many adjustments, from a different schedule to trying not to eat everything that has any form of chocolate in it. But as I’m likely here for quite awhile longer, with my girlfriend, and that there will likely be more changes, I worked a way to rearrange the house.

This was really instructive. I hadn’t thought about the space I live until I had to work there. Then I realized I could set up this space better not just for the work, but for my projects like writing and programming.

Honestly, it’s something we should think about more. I mean how many of us move into a place, mostly unpack, shove the remaining boxes under the desk, and don’t think about it? I imagine a lot of us – you know that painting you haven’t hung or that chair you really should replace.

But now I’m seeing the many reasons to improve my working and creating space. So I wanted to share a few.

We need space that gives us room. A classic piece of advice is if at all possible, don’t work in your bedroom as it can mess with your sleep. You may also live with someone and need space away from them to work. Set up your work areas to give you the mental and physical distance you need.

We need the right space to work. That may mean you have one space for your job and one for writing, or one for art and one for writing, etc. We also need the right equipment and setting or we’re just wasting our efforts.

We may need to make that space adaptable. If we can’t have, say, an art room and a programming room, we need a way to alter that space efficiently. We may also get a new computer, buy new reference books or other things we need available – and we need our workspace to reflect that.

We need to make that space something we can reconfigure efficiently. Your needs are going to change, you’re going to get a new roommate, etc. Getting furniture you an break down and move or a desk you can raise and lower will save time and stress.

We need to back up important work supplies. This is something I realized recently during the Pandemic – we should have important work supplies available so we don’t need to dash out for them. This could be an extra computer power cable, or a backup pen, extra printer paper, etc.

We need to engage those that live with us – or visit. Don’t assume your roommate, SO, or guests (when we finally have them) appreciates your needs or your layout. Ask them, get advice, think things over. You don’t want to get a lot of great furniture then find it doesn’t work for others.

So those are my thoughts about physical space and working. Maybe I’ll let you know how my plans go, because I’ve got a few things to purchase, even more to move, and a lot to do . . .

Steven Savage

A Writer’s Life: Experiments

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

Remember my goal to write at least 24K words, probably 30K, this month?  Yeah, still having issues with trying to force myself.  The idea of giving myself space had helped, but I still felt like I was forcing myself.  This caused some analysis that you may find useful.

Why was I still feeling like I was forcing myself?  I didn’t have to go very deep to figure that out.

I felt like I had to do everything right.  Or that I had to get it perfect the first time.  I had the space, but was trying to get it right the first time.

That’s when I had another realization, fueled by my writing, my observations, and my agile practices.  All writing is an experiment.

We’d like to think writing is some kind of precise creation.  Perhaps its that we think of it physically, or that we have a perfect idea of what we’re writing in our head.  But it’s not, it never is.

Writing is an amazingly experimental thing because it’s about communications.  Even if your audience isn’t there, you’re directing your communications to reach them.  In turn, the process of creating cause you to constantly re-evaluate and navigate, from reader feedback to reading your own words from the audience viewpoint.

Writing is experimental thing because it’s so huge.  When you are writing you have infinite options of what to do or how to communicate.  You only discover what works as you write, and writing may reveal unforeseen options.

Writing is experimental because it involves imagination in many cases.  That’s always unpredictable, that’s the point.

So you write something.  Experiment done.  Then you edit it, another experiment, and it evolves.  Then when you’re done, you go to another piece of writing – and that’s an experiment.  It’s experiments all the way down.

Once I realized everything I was doing was an experiment, that I had to explore and play, then I felt better about writing.  The goal of an experiment is to try something and all writing – indeed all arts – are just trying something.  Vast, unpredictable, evolving, channeling our imagination – and that’s why they’re so powerful.

My friend Serdar, a consummate experimenter, never even writes in the same setting, to keep himself going.  I never quite got why he might want to do that (which is not my cup of tea), until realized writing is an experiment.  The more you have, the more that push you, the more you grow.

Me, I like to play in the same settings, but I do explore elsewhere.  That’s how you keep growing.

So, onward to my goal of writing more.  Because I give myself space, because it’s an experiment, I feel a lot freer now.


– Steve