How to Office Without An Office

I’ve made it through two weeks now without an office.

With a couple of staff additions and some office rearranging, I realized we didn’t actually have enough space for everyone.  After weighing all the options, I felt like it might be possible to office without an actual office space.  Kind of a crazy idea for a creature of habit like myself who loves routine and the comfort of my space, however I was willing to give it a shot.

Honestly? I’m really enjoying it.  Every day is a bit of a new adventure and I’ve kind of become the “where’s Waldo” of the office staff.

Here are some things that I’m finding are essential to making my non-office office work:

  1. Evernote – no more paper. I like paper – a lot! But keeping up with paper when you don’t have the space for it can be really frustrating.  And let’s face it… if it’s not on the top of the stack, we’ve forgotten it anyway.  I’m learning to use Evernote for everything.  Every list and every project is managed with it now.  I feel a little naked at times without my notebooks, but I’m adjusting amazingly well.
  2. Great laptop and laptop bag. I have the MacBook Air.  It’s so lightweight that I don’t mind taking it anywhere.  And of course I have a very stylish bag from Etsy that looks like an over-sized purse.  If I have to carry my office with me, we’re gonna at least look good. 🙂
  3. A hub for files, books, essentials. I do have a nice enclosed bookcase that houses the things that I can’t take with me everywhere.
  4. Inbox/outbox system that you actually use.  Not boxes that just get piled with stuff that everyone knows you don’t actually look at.
  5. Accountability.  Of course this is critical whether you have an office or not, but my responsibility to communicate where I am increases when I don’t have a designated space.

Do you have a designated office space?

If not, what systems have you created to help you be effective?

Do you think officing without an office is a trend that we’ll see more of?

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  • Faye Bryant June 30, 2011  

    Sounds like you’re really getting a handle on this! I’ve worked from home (or wherever we’re at for the moment) for several years. I love it! My hurdle is that not everyone on staff is where I am with using online tools. Otherwise, it’s perfect and I do think we’ll see more of it — especially in ministry. 

  • Aaron Conrad June 30, 2011  


    I have had a home office for about 10 years. On the downside, I am often “out of the loop” on things happening at our corporate office and feel like I’m always the last to know. On the positive side, there are no office politics or drama to deal with (unless our Dog Wubzzy counts).

    I think the hardest thing for me (if you want to call is hard) is the interaction with co-workers. It’s just me, my phone, my laptop, 4 walls and Wubzzy. I tend to be a big twitter user (some might say abuser) to keep up with others in some form of community. Twitter has become a huge blessing from that aspect.

    I love mobile offices.

  • Brian Eubanks June 30, 2011  

    For my job, I’m stuck in the office.

    I have taken advantage of Evernote in my personal life. I wouldn’t know what to do with out it now.

  • Judy June 30, 2011  

    We’re remodeling 3 of our offices to include casual meeting space, so I’ve been a drifter for several weeks now, too.  Working from home every day isn’t an option because of construction projects, meetings & because my job is best done with face time.  

    Kid you not- yesterday the “where’s Waldo” comment was made when someone “found” me.  

    It’s refreshing to have less physical inventory to organize.  My assistant’s been a dream to take over some things I should have handed to her a long time ago.  I’ve been on the evernote fence, but am convinced it’s a great solution to incorporate now.  Thanks for that nudge, Jenni!   

    The best part of no office has actually been the interruptions.  I’ve had more conversations with people who might assume I’m too busy to visit when I’m sitting in my office.  It’s been a great reminder for me to come up for air more often and just connect.   Thanks for the suggestions!

  • Tony Johnson June 30, 2011  

    As a church planter…my office is…well…wherever I am.  Evernote is great and so is Google Documents.  However, my favorite thing is eprint.  If there is anything I need to print (such as a document that I received in an email)…all I have to do is email it to a specific email address and when I return home it is sitting on the tray of my printer.  It is great!  It freaks my wife out at times though when the printer just kicks on when I am out of state.

  • tony morgan June 30, 2011  

    Offices are over-rated.

  • turner_bethany July 1, 2011  

    I think the lack of actual office space is definitely something we are going to see a lot more of. With people checking email from their phones or ipads no matter where they are at, there is no need to be tied now to a specific area. 

  • Rindy Walton July 1, 2011  

    I have worked for…well, lots…of years and I don’t think I’ve ever really had an office. The key is definitely organization. Right now my ‘office’ is my car as I visit homes–forms I use are now web-based so I have a tablet (Xoom–company purchased). For paper forms, etc, I divide them into 3 different levels–‘use occasionally’ are in files in a cloth ‘briefcase’ (Lands End), ‘need to have handy’ are in an expandable file notebook &’ things I need to carry into each home’ are in a lightweight notebook w a few files/notepad, etc built in.

    I also have multiple emails–work, bills, personal, etc & a junk one (for when you have to give an email to sign up for something). Makes it so much easier not having to sift through to find what I’m looking for!

  • Bruce Ammons July 2, 2011  

    I traveled as an evangelist for several years. Initially, I officed out of my home, but that did not work for me as television, wife, kids, and taking a nap were too tempting.

    So I rented an office for $450 per month.  Writing that check soon became old. So I tried “officing” at Panera Bread. They have free wifi, free coffee refills, and a great atmosphere. This worked fantastic! My ministry purchased a $50 per month Panera Bread gift card for me instead of paying the $450 per month for a physical office.

    I discovered many people “office” there. I got to know several of them and we called Panera the office for “1099ers” (those who receive a 1099 instead of a W-2 for income tax purposes).

    I am now on staff at a church and have an office provided. But I still get my best work done at Panera! I am confident that officing without an office is here to stay!

  • Kim July 19, 2011  

    Wow, this was really timely. We are in the midst of a lot of transitions with team shifts and a new campus. As someone who used to color-separate the paperclips, having a mobile office was a ginormous change in how I work. I dearly love pens and lists and notebooks, and crammed so much into my laptop bag that I ended up with a pinched nerve in my shoulder. I’ve somewhat landed, with space in one of our buildings but, because I don’t spend every day there, I still have to be somewhat portable. While I love the flexibility that it gives me, it has definitely forced me to step up my organizational game and let go of some outdated, though much-loved tools. I’m curious – what is your inbox/outbox system in this context?