Insightful takes on scaling your business

Working from home is great — until your co-workers show up

Lesson I learned the hard way

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Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

CEO and co-founder, TNWBoris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and (show all) Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and pr.co. Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

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Boris is the wise ol’ CEO of TNW who writes a weekly column on everything about being an entrepreneur in tech — from managing stress to embracing awkwardness. You can get his musings straight to your inbox by signing up for his newsletter!

Many people are now struggling with adjusting to working from home, but I’ve always been a big fan of WFH. Way back in the day, I even started my second company in my spare bedroom — with employees and everything!

The company was a wireless hotspot operator and we didn’t end up moving from my spare bedroom until we grew to 12 people or so. Even when the spare bedroom became the baby room when my first daughter was born, it was still ‘the office‘ during the day, just with a baby in it. 

I liked it a lot, and it was mostly pretty easy to maintain a good work-life balance. Whenever there was an important call, or I had to attend an important meeting in the conference room (my living room), I would hand my daughter to one of the engineers — or to whoever looked most uncomfortable at that moment. It was a nice mixture of family life and startup life in a tiny space. 

But this WFH setup also had its downsides…  

One day I came ‘home’ after a long day talking to potential customers, and crashed on the couch. Before I could even take off my jacket, I heard the door open, and one of the project managers walked in. He asked me whether an important package with a missing adapter had arrived. It hadn’t but I remembered seeing a similar one in my basement. 

A few minutes later I was kneeling on the floor, in my dusty basement, going through boxes looking for an adapter, when all I really wanted was to come home to a hot shower and my bed.

I was starting to get why you might not want to have the office in your home 24/7, but the next and more pivotal moment happened a few weeks later. 

[Read: A sharper axe is safer: a counterintuitive business lesson]

My daughter was old enough to walk around and demand my attention — also when I couldn’t give it. This particular evening, I happened to be on the toilet, cherishing this brief moment for myself in my home, when she knocked on the door. 

I tried persuading her to go and talk to her mother, but she insisted I opened the door. I obviously lost that battle, so I found myself sitting on the toilet, door wide open, chatting with my daughter. 

That’s when a key slid into the front door lock, which was directly opposite my toilet door. Before I could do anything, the door swung open, and two of my employees stepped in.      

I’m sure you can visualize the situation, and also appreciate that this isn’t a situation you would want to find yourself, your boss, or your employees in. Like ever. Some experiences should not be shared within companies, and this one is high on the list.

So while working from home can be challenging, remember that at least you have your privacy. 

Can’t get enough of Boris? Check out his older stories here, and sign up for TNW’s newsletters here.

Published May 28, 2020 — 14:45 UTC

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