Don’t Want to Go Back to the Office?

I’m staying in my car. You should too.

Working from home has drawbacks. Many of us prefer not to return to traditional office spaces either. Electric vehicles may be part of the solution because they make great places to work. Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time in mine, and it’s turned out to be the best office I’ve ever had.

Coronavirus forced many people out of their offices and into working from home. It’s been a massive change. Finding the space, getting the equipment you need and figuring the tech out has not been straightforward for many. Aside from the tedious practicalities, people have had to learn new skills and new ways of doing things.

Working from home sounds great in theory, but many things make it challenging. Here are a few examples, and I’m sure you could add more of your own:

  1. There are often as many distractions at home as there are in the office. Whether it is kids, pets, spouses, or people knocking on the door. These things can make it tough to get into the flow and to stay there.
  2. The boundary between work and home life starts to get blurry. Switching off can be as hard as getting going.
  3. If you’re lucky, you have a dedicated space at home that you can use. Even so, it will get boring being stuck in the same place all day. You can start to go stir crazy.

To escape the home office, a common move is to go to a coffee shop for a ‘change of scenery’.

Some people say that they find the noise and bustle a useful soundtrack. I’m not one of them. It’s expensive. Even if you only buy something every hour or so, it all soon adds up to a fair amount.

Coffee shops don’t sound like the ‘coffee shop’ sounds on your white noise/ focus app. Of course, you could slip on your headphones and listen to the app instead, but that seems like a weird thing to do in this context.

Electric vehicles could be part of the solution to this conundrum. Here are a few of the reasons why:

They keep you warm.

An electric vehicle will keep you at the perfect temperature, regardless of what the weather is doing outside. They’re better than houses at this.

Of course, cars have had this capability for some time now, but electric vehicles can do this, without their engines running. They don’t have engines, but you know what I mean. Their massive batteries mean this stuff is easy.

Music.

Whether you want near silence, music, podcasts or white noise — it’s super easy in an EV. The sound from the stereo is great, and you won’t have to wear your headphones. Stream whatever helps you work to your speakers, and you’re good to go.

Tech.

My laptop will run all day even when I’m doing power-intensive work, which I hardly ever do. Same for my phone. I pack a portable power supply for both. I’ve never used it.

Comfort

Of course, you may get lucky at the coffee shop. Morel likely, you’ll be dealing with wobbly, uncomfortable chairs, or a blast of cold air every time someone enters.

In the car, the seats are comfortable, and you have enough space to work.

The scenery.

I am writing this facing a beautiful reservoir in the Peak District, in the north of England. There’s a specific reason that I’m working from there now…

Productivity hacks.

I’m working from this particular location because there is no phone reception. Nothing. I don’t need to worry about getting distracted from what I’m doing. I won’t even get a phone call, let alone an email. It’s like Do Not Disturb, but without the switch.

Sporadically, I’ll choose a spot with good reception and use my mobile data whenever I need it for meetings, calls, or research. I have 4-6 places that I like and will choose one or two each day depending on what I need to get done.

I’ve been enjoying my mobile office a lot. There are a couple of things that have enhanced the experience for me.

Taking lunch

It’s easy to cook a simple meal on a camping stove. Usually, it’s a sandwich and some fruit I prepared before I left the house in the morning. Few things beat eating outdoors in the middle of the working day.

Coffee.

Usually, I’ll take a flask of coffee with me. I make it in the morning, and it’s hot enough to drink for 6-8 hours. Occasionally, I’ll take along a camping stove and a simple coffee brewing set-up.

Taking my dog.

He loves it. I’ll work from at least two different spots on a typical day (I usually want to have an ‘online’ period and an ‘offline’ period). This means Reggie gets to have a few short walks, and then he’ll sleep on the back seat while I’m working.

Regular breaks.

Having frequent breaks is such a treat when you have stunning countryside three seconds away. I try to do a quick 5-minute break every hour or so. I often find myself refreshed and raring to go much quicker than when I am working at home, or in a coffee shop.

What about the downsides?

I haven’t found any. Right now, I work in my car as much as I work from home. There isn’t anything that I can’t do out on the road.

I always find that my output is much higher. I don’t have any choice but to get on with things.

My mood is better, just from being outdoors and surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of nature.

You need to think a bit about peeing, but that’s easy enough to plan for.

Costs.

Of course, there are costs involved. Let’s take the trip I’m on now as an example.

My ‘commute’ varies. I’m lucky, I live close to some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK. I rarely need to travel for more than 20 minutes to find the perfect spot.

I’ve been parked up for one hour so far. It’s a warm day and I have the temperature in the car set to 19 degrees. The air conditioning is blowing gently.

Since I pulled up an hour ago, I have used the same amount of power that I would usually use driving 4 miles (6.44 km) in the car. This doesn’t vary a huge amount, even when the weather is freezing cold. The car is super-efficient.

There is no way that I can do this kind of (focussed) work for more than about three hours on any given day. By then, I’m struggling to concentrate. As a result, I need to get the most out of those few productive hours, and I find that the car is my preferred method.

I realise that this only works because I drive an electric vehicle, but many of us will be switching soon enough. Electric cars provide a comfortable, cheap, private and safe place to work. You’ll have complete control of your working environment and if there’s any issue with your current location, you can just move on.

One of the things I like best is the feeling of coming home. Home feels more like home now that I’m not using it to work from as much.