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Working from home, co-working, and the old-school office are the most common ways we know how to work. Until now. Enter the Scandinavian idea of the Hoffice.

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There has never been a better time to telecommute for work, or to work from home. The technology, furniture options, and finances are all combining to make working from home more attractive than ever.

One thing, however, is still missing from working at home: Community.

Small-talk, camaraderie, and working from home

A lot of us who work from home don’t miss the constant interruptions of office life, but we often miss the small-talk, camaraderie, and banter of working in an office. It’s for this reason that “co-working spaces” have been popping up all around the world. These are businesses where folks rent a workdesk for X-amount of hours a day, however many days a month they want to be there. It gives them a real “office” feeling and also brings that community and networking into their day that would be lacking if they were sat at home — for a price.

People all over have created casual co-working spaces at home with colleagues, but there has been no resource that makes this easily achieved. And it’s also a big commitment if you’re agreeing to share your home workspace with someone on a long-term basis.

Enter the Hoffice

Those working from home now have another option that’s getting big in Europe but only now catching on here: The “Hoffice”. This is a concept of co-working at home that comes with a structure that is similar to working in a real office, but with flexibility built one doesn’t get with a supervisor standing around.

This “structure” addresses another problem many telecommuters face — the challenge of staying productive and being attentive for a full day.

How does it work?

People find a like-minded “Hoffice” group to work with by way of setting one up then advertising it through their social communities or the like. Once a group is found and a space is agreed upon, hours are set out. They attend the Hoffice during those hours, like any normal “job,” and each day begins with a mindfulness meeting where each person says their goals for the day and what they’re working on, and then the day gets cracking.

A bell is set at the beginning of every working round. It’s 45 minutes of uninterrupted quiet work, and when the bell rings, it’s 10-15 minutes of free time to be filled with anything from chatter to stretching or, hey, dancing. The bell rings again, it’s back to work. There’s a 60-minute lunch, and more work punctuated by short breaks in the same 45/15 pattern.

A young concept still growing

Hoffice’s idea is to use the resources many of us have in our homes while meeting the need for community and providing an inexpensive solution to our need for more “work life” options that fall in between telecommuting-from-home and regular office-life.

The concept launched in autumn, 2013, and has grown quickly in Europe, with dozens of hubs available to join, but there’s a long way to go on this continent. One can create and list a “Hoffice” on the organization’s website for free. This will stay the case as the organizers say they’re not interested in monetizing the idea — it’s meant to be a movement to change the way we live and work together.

The right solution for some folks

I strongly believe in working from home, but I too know the loneliness that comes from working at home. I love it, but I understand how others would feel too isolated. For those who need some kind of structure, this is perfect for finding a supportive network of people who might be fun to be around, offer interesting alternatives to how you might proceed with your tasks, all while saving money on getting a change of scene for your workday.

If you live and work from home but feel you’re missing something, maybe you could create your own Hoffice group for even just two or three days a week. Like I say, it’s the best time ever for working from home — especially if you’d like to keep that autonomy while building some community.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.