Home Office Advantage
Ever dream about working from home?
Take a cue from these South Bay entrepreneurs with the best commute in town.
- Written byKatrina Zawojski
When you can take a break in the middle of a weekday to play tennis, read a book to your toddler or simply enjoy a change in scenery, consider yourself one of the lucky few who works from home. Aside from the perks and privileges—goodbye cubicle, hello laptop in bed—there are also issues encountered when your pajama suit is also your business suit. To learn more about what a “day at the office” looks like in the South Bay, we checked in with two sets of working professionals, both of whom manage to find a work/lifestyle balance outside the traditional office.
DIVIDE & CONQUER
Husband and wife Eddie and Alison Salcedo ironically met in an office 11 years ago. Today they still work in the same industry: Alison is the head of U.S. public relations for StubHub, and Eddie runs his own sports marketing and consulting agency, 11 Sports Media. But rather than commute to separate offices, they conduct business from the comfort of their 800-square-foot Manhattan Beach home. With a 2-year-old daughter, Mari, and another one the way, the Salcedos not only have to face the challenges of working from home but of raising a family and running a household.
The first order of business was crucial: finding a suitable workspace for both professionals. “Her job is more structured than mine, so it makes more sense that she’s in a location where she can close the doors and shut out the world,” says Eddie, explaining why Alison’s office is comprised of a desk not even one foot from their bed, while he works from the kitchen table.
To not cross the delicate boundary between “work” and “sleep,” Alison makes it a priority to keep her “office”—albeit a small one—as tidy and work-oriented as possible.
“During my first trimester when I struggled with morning sickness, it was very nice to be able to work from home in comfy clothes and sit on my laptop in bed, but you can’t do that for a long time in order to stay focused,” she confides. “Sooner or later, your bedroom begins to feel like a dorm room.”
Considering that she had 11 dedicated years in a traditional office environment, Alison learned to be patient while setting a new routine for herself at home—one that would distinguish work life from family life. “For me, it was really hard to adjust,” she says. “There were so many days when I missed the water cooler banter of being in an office, but I love the flexibility of working from home and being able to spend more time with my daughter.”
Both Alison and Eddie are grateful for the extra family time that working at home affords them. Almost every morning, a father-daughter walk commences on The Strand or along Manhattan Beach Boulevard, giving Eddie a breath of fresh air but also time to check his work e-mails. Yet as the evening draws nearer and Mari is still awake, the two make it a point to shut down work.
“When we’re parents, we’re parents and completely devoted to our kid,” shares Eddie. “Those extra 10 minutes to throw pasta in the boiling water or dance in the living room really add up for our quality family time spent together.”
Nestled deep in the Tree Section of Manhattan Beach and adjacent to an outdoor patio brimming with foliage, an office shared by three young professionals also happens to be an extension of their adjoining Mediterranean-style home.
Mitchell Jolly, co-founder of Beck & Score, a high-end boutique travel agency specializing in international sporting events, is one of three roommates who frequently throw on a pair of basketball shorts before jumping on a conference call to secure one of Brazil’s finest five-star hotel rooms or a personal chef for his company’s inaugural World Cup 2014 offering.
When you work in an industry where your employees are spread over multiple countries and cities, it’s not always necessary to expense a separate workspace for day-to-day activities. “This is just so ideal not having to commute and being able to walk down the stairs instead,” says Mitchell, as he sits leisurely in a room flooded with natural light. “When we host meetings, I feel very comfortable with people walking through the nice patio area and entering this workspace. It feels very professional.”
And judging from the striking, one-of-a-kind Kelcey Fisher painting popping off the dark blue walls and the Edison-inspired lightbulbs and wooden beams spanning overhead, someone walking into the space would feel as if they’d entered a sophisticated work environment. But it wasn’t always like this.
Before serving as an office for three full-time roommates, this space was a hardly-used gym, leaving the trio little workspace scattered about the living room, kitchen, outside—anyplace they could find an empty spot.
“Wherever I worked, it never felt like an office, but I perform at my best and most productive when I go to a place meant for work,” admits Mitchell. In the winter of 2012, they decided to create a space designated for work, somewhere that felt independent yet connected to the main house.
With its own private bathroom and separate entrance off the patio, the perfect solution was there all along. Designed to encourage creative, collaborative work as well as solitary efforts, and with a few office normalcies (like a large whiteboard) strung in between, the space evokes a smart and sophisticated vibe that gets the owners excited to go to work. “This set-up just makes sense, from a financial perspective and a business perspective,” says Mitchell, “and I can’t complain about any of the perks.”
The custom painting by Venice-based artist Kelcey Fisher was one of the first things Chris Stone, restaurateur (Abigaile) and partner in Beck & Score, purchased. “I think it kind of set the tone for the rest of the design,” he says. “I really liked the yellow accent colors, which I re-used in some other pieces in the room, like the clock, side table. I chose to paint the walls cobalt blue and grey because I thought they complemented the painting. To me, it sets a relaxed vibe in the space, which is how we like to do business in the South Bay.”
Did we also mention that the beach is 0.9 miles from his desk? “As long as you get the work done, you get the freedom to set your own schedule,” confides Mitchell, who has Surfline on his computer just in case, you know, an epic swell rolls in.
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