One of the very early Hoffice events in Sweden. Credit: Amrit Daniel Forss
While this transformation may improve the overall sustainability of our society, there are also big drawbacks. One is isolation. Many workers have lost the belonging, community, and face-to-face team work that big companies offer. At the same time, more people are workplace-less and are forced to work from home, cafés, libraries or co-working spaces.
What is Hoffice?
Suffering from those drawbacks himself, the Swedish psychologist Christofer Gradin Franzén became pro-active and invited his friend Johline Lindholm to start working at home together. Now their question was: “How do we create good working structures and at the same time give ourselves and each other what we need to benefit our well-being?”
They came up with a concept and called it Hoffice, a merger of the words home + office. As the name indicates, the core idea of Hoffice is that someone invites you into their home, which is thereby transformed into a temporary co-working space.
For the co-working day, Christofer and Johline proposed a structure:
You meet: Around half an hour before the work day starts, you can drop in at your host’s place, set your workplace up and meet your co-workers.
You kick-off the day: At an agreed point of time you gather with all the other attendees in a circle to kick-off the day. Some co-created stretching or a mindfulness practise creates calm in you. Then everyone shares their day’s working goals. You say something like: “Today I will celebrate, if I get X & Y done”. This speaking of intentions creates a feeling of social accountability in you: “the others know what I’m working on and want me to succeed!”
You work: Next follows a 45 minute work block, where you focus on your own tasks. In the same manner as for the whole day, every work block starts with setting a tangible goal: “In the next 45 min I will get X done,” and ends with a brief reporting back to the group: “I’m happy! I reached my goal!” / “I’m struggling with X. Maybe I should do something else…”). The idea is that you are nudged to split your work up in smaller portions and learn to be realistic on time consumption of the tasks.
You take a fun break: Based on the insight that humans don’t concentrate longer than 45 minutes, in the Hoffice you deserve to take a good break: 15 minutes of stretching, dancing, playing, meditating… whatever you and your host can come up with! It might feel at the start a bit awkward to go wild with people you hardly know, but it will do you so good! Your awareness will stretch from your head, back to your whole body. Stress gets relieved, before it gets stuck in your muscles. 15 minutes every hour might sound like taking a lot of breaks, but you will see how they help you to regain willpower and focus for the next 45 minute work block.
The four principles behind the Hoffice structure
You eat: After three to four blocks of work/break, the lunch break awaits you. Often people chose to co-create a potluck meal: when everyone brings a small contribution, you will end up with a rich buffet. The experience shows that planning is not really necessary; it always works out. And the conversations are just as rich as the menu. After working and sharing your progress during the morning, you will have plenty of questions on what exactly it is the other people do. This network building and creating new opportunities is something which lone workers often miss. And when the conversation moves past work, you'll learn more about the interesting people that Hoffice attracts.
You celebrate: In the afternoon, the 45 minute work /15 minunte break cycle continues for three to four more blocks. Then it’s time for you to gather again in a circle, report back if you’re happy with your progress and goal attainment. If you are: don’t be shy and receive applause from your colleagues. If you didn’t: don’t give up. You did what you could and you got a better understanding of how to set realistic goals! You can find a nice ritual to celebrate together, like clapping three times and shouting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” together. And maybe you want to stay a bit longer with your host and celebrate that you have a full evening ahead, where you don’t need to think of doing more work.
Hoffice is always a gift
Now you know how a Hoffice day is structured, but there's one more important brick in the Hoffice concept: Hoffice is always a gift! It’s a gift from the host, who opens her or his home to you. But also as a participant it is about giving your time and personal resources to the group. Christofer says that, “when people feel that they receive a gift, they want to give back something. And when we give, we often get much in return – which means we have even more to give. That’s how positive circles of giving get going.” You can help your co-workers with business tips and leads for new partnerships. Or you can bring homemade snacks for the afternoon energy gap.
Try out Hoffice in your local community or home alone
Excited to try Hoffice? A good way to start is to joine a local Hoffice event. Check the Hoffice community map to see if there is already a Hoffice community close-by. There is now around 100 groups on four continents. Some of them are more active than others and you might need to wait a bit till an event comes up...or host an event yourself!
If there’s no active community nearby and you’re not yet convinced enough to start on your own, then try the Hoffice structure first home alone, or even better together with a friend or family member.
There are several YouTube playlists, which you can run on your computer in the background while working. The playlists will remind you to take a break and set your intentions for the next workblock (this is harder when you’re alone, but very rewarding when you do it) . In the breaks it will play a video proposing a break activity: a short workout, yoga, self-massage for stress relief or a guided meditation.
Here is a list of playlists:
Would you like to make your own playlist with your favourite break activities? Follow this guide.
Start your own Hoffice community
What if you liked Hofficing alone, but there is no Hoffice group in your town? Then start your own Hoffice community. Here's how:
- Invite a small group of friends for a series of pilot rounds to get to know the method of hosting and facilitating and adapt it to your needs. Instead of having a facilitator, you can also just run one of the playlists above, and follow the structure together.
- Start your own Facebook group called Hoffice + the name of your town or neighbourhood. You can become a member of a Hoffice Facebook group, such as Hoffice Toronto, and get a feel for how it works and copy the things you like.
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add your group to the Hoffice network map and announce it over the Hoffice Facebook page.
- Invite more people into your Facebook group by telling people that you meet about Hoffice, posting about it on social media, approaching your local newspaper and invite them to join an event, and using the Hoffice flyer (pdf | powerpoint; print duplex, cut in the middle and on the left edge, fold so that the door closes at the front)
- Work and have fun together, continue to explore new methods, and get involved with the other Hoffice groups in the network.