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The "work from home" shop

Imagine walking into a house and seeing mineral stained ceilings, half painted walls, and waterlogged plywood covered holes. Imagine exposed pipes, sagging conduit, and cobbled-together tangles of wire. Imagine cobwebs in the corners, and a thin layer of dust covering everything. Imagine clutter on top of, under, and around the furniture. Imagine bad lighting, harsh smells, and abrasive sounds. Imagine somber people glancing at you from the shadows.

You might ask yourself: “What kind of a person could stand to live in a place like that?” You might even pity that person and want to take action to help.

What I’m describing sounds like a stereotypical haunted house, or maybe a “meth house”. Most of us would not want to spend any time in a place like this, let alone live in it. We all recognize that living in a place like that would have serious consequences on our morale, mood, drive, and well being. On the surface, every one of us would want out asap.

I’ve worked in and toured hundreds of shops in the industry, so I’ve seen enough to know that what I’m describing above isn’t a haunted house at all, it’s a workplace. The setting I described above isn’t the exception, it’s the norm. Some of you own and work in shops that are very clean, well lit, and organized. This article is still for you, dig deeper. You may not have filthy working conditions, but you’re still missing opportunities.

Before I get too far with this, let me first make an admission. I am guilty of running a shop that at one time had many of those same sad qualities. Interestingly, none of the employees said a word. Investors didn’t mind. Things had always just looked the way they did, and nobody cared. It wasn’t on anyone’s mind that anything was wrong. When you work in a shop, that’s just what you expect. Why though? Let’s take a critical look at the place we spend a third of our lives, yet pay so little attention to.