Escape From Cabin Fever Into A Serviced Office

By February 25, 2009 General 37 Comments

Well, I’ve been working from home since 2002 and am excited to report that I’ve moved out of my home office into a serviced office this week.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit of ‘cabin fever’, being at home all day working, and then also here most evenings. I do love working for myself, however I think a change of scene is needed.

When working from home, I often find myself drifting back into the office in the evening to check emails, or squeeze in ‘another 15 minutes’ work which inevitably turns into another hour! I had developed a schedule, including a start and finish time, however I still found myself being compelled to work beyond that. Did anyone say ‘workaholic’? It’s probably a bit of that, but also the fact that sometimes you can’t just turn the computer off at 5.30pm on the dot, regardless of what’s happening.

Anyway, I started to feel that I was at work all day and all evening, without much downtime. My home was no longer a place of relaxation!

I do have a separate room for my home office, but for me, it hasn’t been enough of a ‘psychological separation’ for me. I often wondered whether it would be better to have a double-storey house, with an office upstairs, so at least I could mentally switch off when going downstairs after work. I’m craving a clear distinction between home and work and this serviced office will definitely help!

As for having distractions at home, that wasn’t really an issue. I’m not one to be distracted if a friend calls during the day. I just explain that I’m working and that I’ll have to call them back later. I also don’t do any housework or laundry during the day as this can lead to reduced work productivity.

My office at home also did not have a view – just a window to my left-hand side which overlooked a brown fence!

Now to my new office: I have a view over the railway station – I know, this doesn’t sound very inspiring but it’s actually very picturesque! There are beautiful gumtrees, birds flying overhead, and I can watch people coming and going. It’s right in the heart of Altona, a bayside suburb, near cafes and restaurants. In my lunchtime I can walk down to the beach and eat my lunch. I can walk here from home in just over 10 minutes.  There are 30 other businesses in the serviced office block and every month there are networking meetings so we can refer each other business.

I’m very excited about this move and I’ll keep you updated on how I get on.


  • Eleanor says:

    Good luck Lisa, wishing you all the best.

  • Maureen says:

    I think what makes you happy is important and if you find things to be better that way. Good for you.

    Cheers Maureen

  • Sue Dyson says:

    Hi Lisa

    I know what you mean by cabin fever. When we moved to Spain last May we took an apartment pretty much sight unseen and we are in the middle of really nowhere unelss you have a car and neither me nor hubby want to drive. So we tend to work as soon as we get up until midnight or 1am with just a short break to take the dogs for a short walk (they are pretty old now and we don’t have a garden/yard for them). Even lunch was a quick bite before going back to work. But our new apartment is opposite the port and the beach and in the middle of the tourist area. It is bigger (with a small pool) and we will definitely be able to switch off at a reasonable time and enjoy the surroundings more and get out at lunch time and see people and things! There’s just nothing to do where we are now except sit on the terrace and do nothing – which is not me most of the time. I like to walk and see and touch and feel after I’ve been working. We can’t wait to be there but not looking forward to the moving preparations.

    Hope the move for you gives you the motivation you need!

  • Vicky says:

    Congratulations on making the move. I still enjoy working from my home but I tend to “pop” back in for a few minutes just before bed then suddenly an hour or more has passed.

  • Alessandra says:

    Well, what can I say: I totally agree.
    I’m trying to get to the point of working for myself in a wonderful successful business (and I will soon :))and while my little boy is young I’d like to work mostly from home.
    But when he gets older and goes to kindergarten (when he’s 3) I’d move back to an office too.
    I strongly believe in the separation betwen home andd work, and I think you found the perfect solution: you’ve got your own business, but separate from private life.

  • Lisa,

    Exciting news! I think it’s a great idea and it sounds like you have an ideal location and setup.

    I’ll be watching your blog and emails for updates on how this works out for you.

    Again, thanks for sharing your VPA experiences. We can all learn from them.

    Best wishes for continued success,

  • Sophia says:

    Congratulations Lisa! I can imagine the advantages u now have…. the scope for growth!

    I have the machine, but has not started my business yet… i know no one to help me I guess…and every info I need I have to pay for it, which I cant afford

    Anyway congrats again:)

  • Kay says:

    I am trying to decide whether to apply for office positions or set up something in my own home. I do have a view and no distractions and I would rather be in my own surroundings. I know all about cabin fever and the locked in feeling, as I have experienced it on every office I have worked at in the past, even as a temporary fill in for a friend. I’d much rather be in my own home and as for sneaking in back to work or staying late? I did that in my regular jobs, when a project needs done, it needs done and you cannot always hang up the phones and stop all follow-thru just because the clock strikes 5:00 pm. I disliked the commute, even when it was only a few blocks away. I didn’t like being chained to the desk outside of my own territory. Where I am now, if and when I find something, with the wireless network and phone service in my home, I can work from my in-home office, the veranda, living room, bedroom, garden…. I can change my view to suit my mood or tasks that need to be done. I just need to discover what to do.

    But thanks for sharing. There are many people who don’t realize what they are getting into when they decide to work from home and you have just brought it to light.


  • PLR says:

    I totally understand what you are talking about. I think that sometimes I have the reverse problem – too many distractions, so I wind up going to the public library or coffee shop for a change of scenery.

  • Ana says:

    Hi Lisa.

    I just read your email about not working at home. Doesn’t working in an office defeat the whole purpose of working at home? Now you will have to be accountable not just to yourself but to the landlord you are paying office rent to and the other businesses in the building.

    It’s almost as if you are taking a step backward after all your hard work to be independent.

    Just a thought. :-)


  • Lisa:

    Congratulations!! It sounds like this move is just right for you. I think your decision models that the virtual assistant industry can service clients virtually everywhere and from any location; it is not only a home-based business model. Our eye is on the growth of our business and ourselves as business owners.

    I have often thought this could be a choice I would make later down the road for my practice. There are really no limits on where we can take our businesses. Please let me know how it goes for you.

  • Elizabeth Kent says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Congratulations! I am sure you will love being out of the house. When I had an office I often found myself thinking I’d like to have a home office and vice-versa. Now I’m at home and enjoy not having to dress up, use gas, etc., but I do miss the interaction.

    I believe you will have more exposure and possibly more business in an outside office, and don’t bring any projects home that you don’t really have to.

  • Elizabeth Kent says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Congratulations! I am sure you will love being out of the house. When I had an office though, I often found myself thinking I’d like to have a home office and vice-versa. Now I’m at home and enjoy not having to dress up, use gas, and go out in bad weather, but I do miss the interaction.

    I believe you will have more exposure and possibly more business in an outside office, and don’t bring any projects home that you really do not have to.


  • Hi Lisa
    Surprising that the shift to working from home and not having to commute looks like it might be shifting again to working away from home, but in idyllic surroundings!
    Having an office at home is great, but there are so many things that can make things more difficult, i.e. friends calling (as you rightly point out!), people coming to the front door, partners not taking you seriously (like “what time’s dinner?), other family members answering the phone, and so on.
    For me, the partner not taking me seriously is my most difficult to address. Suddenly, they think they have a housekeeper (which I’ve never been happy doing!) and just because they’ve arrived home, they should be able to have a chat, a drink of something or something to eat! When I worked away at an office, I may not arrive home until way after 6, or later. Now, if I don’t come downstairs at 5, I get “You staying up there all night?” So frustrating!
    Any suggestions?
    Thanks and all the very best of luck to you, Lisa!

  • Richard Byrd says:

    Congrats on your new office! I hope I can get a VA system going. I need to stop the traffic miles. I do have a great view and with WiFi at home, I can move around so I don’t think I would move to another spot. I have hundreds of trees, birds, rabbits etc but I have a problem you stated, I would be ‘checking’ emails etc and that would be my problem. I will have to learn to ‘segregate’ the emails / times.
    Good luck and I an paying attention and planning to develop a VA system soon.
    Thanks for all you inputs.
    Richard Byrd

  • Lynne says:

    Congratulations on your move to an office outside your home! Are you still doing virtual work or are you now working as an employee for a company? I have been actively seeking additional virtual work, but so far every office I have interviewed with prefers me to work there. I have gotten so accustomed to working from home that I would have to change so many things if I were to go back to the 9-5 grind. It’s not worth it! After paying childcare costs (after school and summer camp) as well as a dog walker, the extra money I’d be making would go to pay for those services. It’s so frustrating right now to find a company that would be interested in virtual assistance. I’m marketing the idea by utilizing all the cut backs and layoffs that companies are doing in order to save money – I explain that although they’re cutting back on staff, they still need to get certain administrative work done and that’s how I can assist AND they will continue to save money, etc. Any suggestions?

  • Debra Marion CPS/CAP says:


    The benefits of walking to work, having lunch at the beach, a great view, and separation of business from home all seem to be positive steps! It sure sounds like you made a great decision to move your office to the new location!

    Best of luck,

  • Thank you for your concern for me,i also preparing for my new office,but i have northig ,no money,no computer,nothing so how can i start?
    I need your help.
    Thank you.

  • Crystal Sutton says:

    Hi Lisa, so does this mean you still have your own business but moved it out of your home into an office you are leasing or are you working a 9-5 for someone else? I too have a home business except I have two locations for my business that I work out of. I lease an office space so that I can get out of the house. Now, I do have an office in my house as well so that I can have some flexability. It seems to work for me.

  • Hi Lisa,

    I really understand this idea and would like to do the same. The cost of renting a space has been a dilemma for my clientele is not producing enough to cover such costs. It has been a link though that is missing from my production. Mentally, it is much easier “to go” to work. With being an hour’s drive to town, this also is bit of a block. I want to work my own business, but I am contantly being pulled to take care of my first priority, my family of 10. Maybe I am not supposed to run my own business yet? I am not sure…

  • Ezra Shua says:

    Dear Lisa,

    I reason with you in this regard. Doing the same work in the same place over and over again makes one bored and reduces ones productivity. But if one does’t have the means of expanding an existing apartment as you said may be because of the current global economic crisis, there is another way out.

    I learnt from Dr. David Hannah, a world class consultant; he said one can just relax and picture some colourful sight visited – may be during holiday tripes; pull out an old school alboms, favourite, tapes or videos or evening walkout etc can freshes the mind.

    I have been practicing this and is relly freshing and reduces boredness of being in one place for quite a long time.

  • Understand completely! An idea for your real estate virtuals out there… alot of brokers are more than happy to rent out a desk or office to a supporting business. I get business referrals from the agents in the office, the broker gets the $$ and the look of having “in house” support as a reqruiting tool and I get to be around busy professionals. – Good luck in your move.

  • Lanel Taylor says:

    Lisa, I’m excited for you. Can’t wait to hear how you like “going to the office” after you’ve done it for a while. It’s AWESOME for me. :)

  • Rafael Ayala says:

    Dear Mrs. Taliga:
    Your home is not aplace for relaxation anymore,I wish I can help you, My home is too relax, actually Bored. When I first thought of a Virtual Assistant, I thought of receiving orders or what to do from your home. I thought you get hired, but instead of going to your place of hire, you stay home and you gets what to do over the phone or by email.I never imagine of writing articles, I never imagine a Virtual Assistant be also a Reporter.Is why I never sign up or bought any of your Materials. I was completelly wrong on the issue.
    Rafael Ayala

  • Mary says:

    Congratulations Lisa! What an awesome experience for you and it sounds like it’s even the best of both worlds…..with the network meetings there as well! Good luck in your new venture.


  • Kathleen says:

    Congratulations Lisa. I know how you feel. I, too, check emails before I go to bed and sometimes you get hooked – minutes turn into hours.

    I wish you the best in your new venture and your new service office.

    My dream is too stop working my secretarial service from home and open a real office and then come home at the end of the day and relax.

    Best Wishes,

  • Rhonda says:

    Congrats Lisa! Everyone is different and our wants and needs change daily too. This may be a great decision for now and the networking opportunity is fabulous. I love working from home and wouldn’t trade the freedom for anything. I belong to the local chamber and volunteer as an ambassador for the chamber plus my other networking events get me out of the house enough. I have a schedule and stick to it. When I get up I do the laundry, feed the cats, and other chores, then shower and at 9:00 I am in the office with an hour break for lunch and out by 5:00 to feed the cats again and start dinner. I love being able to pop back in to check email, facebook, twitter and all that jazz, but no work after 5:00 pm. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! :-)

  • Tanya Mackey says:

    Good for you Lisa. Wishing you all the best from sunny Nassau, Bahamas!!!!

  • Cheryl Sajnani says:

    Awesome, congratulations – what an ideal condition – God bless you & your business! Thanks for your encouragement & inspiration!

  • Viv @ Virtual says:

    Hey Lisa!
    Good move. Spare rooms in the house don’t always work well after a while. I have set up my office in a separate building at the back of the house. It is on a sloping block so it is higher than the main house. I sit in the bay window overlooking 60 acres of paddocks and horses near the Monash Freeway. So this is a bonus! I walk out the back door for 3 metres, up the stairs and into a separate office with a view. My husband even laughs that I get dressed for work – but it puts me in the mood of what I have to do, and it works for me! I have opened my post office box about 10 minutes away that I have to drive to and that gives me the early morning break, have coffee and then get into the days work.

    Good on you for recognising “cabin fever”and taking the step to a serviced office. The networking opportunities should be really good.

    We all really enjoy your blogs and the advice you give has been invaluable.

    All the best

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    Thank you all for your support and well wishes! I’ll keep you updated on my move. It certainly feels totally different to get up and actually ‘go to work’. Now, to answer a few of your questions:

    @ Ana – I’m not accountable to the ‘landlord’ or the other businesses in the building. I just pay the owner of the serviced office a monthly fee. Re: being accountable to the other businesses in the building, that’s not how it works in a serviced office.

    @Lynne – I’m still an independent contractor. I have the same clients, but because the work is virtual, they don’t mind whether I’m working from home or from my office outside the home. In fact, I went traveling last year and still worked virtually. It doesn’t matter where you work, as long as you perform the work well.

    @ Crystal – Yes, I still have my own business. I’m just running it from an external office that I’m leasing. It’s a lifestyle choice and business decision that I made and I can easily go back to working from home if I wish. With the serviced office, I’m only on an initial 4 month lease and after that I renew the lease on a monthly basis. Like you, I am keeping an office at home, but only for doing basic home admin such as paying bills, personal emails and so forth. I am not going to take work home with me as this will defeat the purpose of having an external office!

    @ Karen – Inevitably there will be obstacles for anyone setting up a business. Take it on a step by step basis and don’t try to get everything perfect at once. I had been working at home since 2002, so this move is just part of the journey for me!

    @ Rhonda – That’s right, everyone is different! Remember that I’ve worked from home since 2002. I’m not saying that it didn’t work for me at all, I just need to try something different and have a change of scene. I congratulate you on being able to stick to a schedule and switch off at 5pm. Sometimes that worked for me at home but often it didn’t in reality. I’m finding it much easier to switch off at a certain time in this external office. It’s like I’m eager to get home at the end of the day, but before, I was already at home!

  • Judy Polite says:

    Hello Lisa,

    Glad you’re moving up and doing well. I enjoy working from home right now. I had to miss a lot of time with my two girls whilst working and going to school. Now, I can enjoy my kids and grandchildren when they want me to be there. I will eventually move into a office suite when the time is appropriate. So, to stay away from the cabin fever, I like to listen to music while I’m working. It helps my creative mind to open up.

  • Hello Lisa,

    Your new office setting sounds ideal. I love to hear stories about how people go about re-inventing themselves!

    Now you can fell refreshed, renewed, and revived!!


  • Susan says:

    Hi Lisa
    As i said in my e-mail to you i think its a wonderful idea and a building full of potential customers i don`t think some of the others have thought about that.
    It is very important to learn to switch off and if you can`t do this there is a chance you could burn yourself out, so by taking direct action you have obliterated any chance.
    I think i might take up Yoga to help me relax like you i feel i can`t relax and thats before i start!
    Enjoy your fresh start.

    Good Luck

  • Hello Lisa. It has been a long time since I visited your blog. I must come by more often.

    Well, congratulations on making your choice to move to an office setting. I am sure you are doing what feels best for you and your business. Please keep us posted as you progress.

  • Judy Blackwell says:

    Congratulations on your move to a new office! That is the ultimate step in owning your own business. Constantly working at home can by stifling and it’s more difficult to separate business from personal. Good for you and I wish you continued success!

  • Angela Epps says:

    Congratulations!! I know what you mean about cabin fever. I work from an office as well. The scenery is beautiful and I’m surrounding by people who have their own businesses as well which allows us to network. Gods blessing on your business and the service office.

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