As I sit here working late from my home office on a Sunday evening, as I know so many travel professionals do - I’m compelled to share my love of home offices and my quirky upbringing.
I was raised in an office. Growing up, my parents ran a thriving tax agency from our home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. During tax season, from January through April, we would have literally thousands of clients come through our doors.
As you entered the house, on your left was the “operations office,” (aka our dining room) where receptionists answered phones, scheduled appointments, transferred calls, and printed, filed, and mailed tax returns. It was the nerve center of the whole operation, and my mom was the Office Manager, the Queen Bee.
One of my fondest memories growing up was essentially being raised by my parents’ team - my “Big Sister” Jill, my pizza buddy Carolyn, my good-grade cheerleading from Sharon, and of course, my grandma, who put in more hours than anyone and played role of voluntary employee and happy-to-help-grandmother, oftentimes chauffeuring my brother to a sports practice or me to a music lesson (her salary: my dad paying for a family meal at a local restaurant every Saturday evening). There were many more employees, but some of these women were very much a part of my family, beyond just a group of people who got a paycheck from my parents. A strange, extended family for a couple of rambunctious kids like my brother and me, surely more than they bargained for.
The kitchen was more of a cafeteria-style breakroom, where everyone could take a lunch or dinner break; heat up their food, grab a bite, and take a break from work. To say the workday was hectic would be an understatement; we probably had 8 or so busy employees during peak season.
The living room was our “waiting room” where we had a TV playing the news, Wheel of Fortune, and some primetime sitcom probably. There were oftentimes a collection of bratty children causing mayhem in my would-be living space - an introverted child’s worst nightmare. I liked to keep to myself and play the piano and violin, so I would often keep to myself in the chilly family room that was “off limits” to clients, by way of French doors with sheer curtains. No soundproofing, either, so I often serenaded clients during their tax appointment. How pleasant for them to hear me butcher “Für Elise” 800 times in a row.
The appointments and tax preps themselves actually took place in our formal living room, immediately to the right of the front door. I think there were 3 desks in there, if I recall. The “Printing Center” (a coat closet with christmas light back-lighting, 2 or 3 printers, and several boxes of paper reams). The upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms, however, were strictly off-limits and for my parents, brother, and me only. My 144 square feet of respite.
It’s so funny to think how it grew from just a few clients a year in the early 90s to a business that was big enough to eventually outgrow the house and move half of it to an offsite office downtown. The office ladies were always at our house, though - that never changed. At the time, I did not enjoy growing up in an office, but I think it actually shaped me as an adult, and I look back fondly on that strange living environment.