Have you considered working from home, but thought your space might be too small? We sat down with Emily Nunes of Travel Agent Next Door to talk about the nuts and bolts of making it work, and how she manages to live, work, and have fun with her adorable dog Elly in her small apartment.
Q: How big is your current home? Did you know you would be working from home when you moved in?
I lived and worked in Surrey before I moved into my current little suite, so I knew I would have to squeeze an office somewhere into my new home. My simple suite is just over 300 sq. ft., with high ceilings and windows that let in lots of natural light. I only have one bedroom, so I sectioned off a small corner of my living space to create my designated office area. From early booking systems to the amazing software we use today, the travel industry has always grown alongside technology, which means I can work from my home computer without needing space for large equipment, stacks of paperwork, or huge stocks of inventory. It may seem small to some, but I love the added financial and environmental benefits of living in a tiny space. (Read my blog: Downsizing to Freedom for more big reasons to live little.)
Q: What inspired you to work from home? Some people would find this challenging. How do you manage to stay focused?
I have always loved the idea of working from home, and while I’ve explored different options, I never found anything that really inspired me. The only thing I cared about was saving up for my next trip! I never thought about combining my obsession for travel with work. Despite loving what I do, I’m not always running to my desk first thing in the morning. I have a lot on my plate, so I use an agenda to help me stay organized, and to stay motivated I have an entire wall of trip memorabilia, photos, and inspiring art. I find when I carve out specific times (and areas) for work, set goals, and check off to-do lists, it helps me stay focused and prevents tasks from becoming overwhelming. I don’t get distracted by things around the house, because I know I have time set aside for it later that day or the next day. My only weakness is my dog Elly; I can never say no when her sad eyes drop a toy in my lap.
Q: Do you feel isolated or confined in your small space? What’s your view on coffeeshop/shared space working?
Just because I work from home doesn’t mean I’m always working alone or confined to my little office space. I am constantly on the phone and active in my communities (both online and in real life) communicating with clients, suppliers, friends and other travel agents from around the globe. It definitely helps having an open, bright workspace, and the opportunity to take Elly out for an afternoon walk. I also have the ability to pick up and take my work anywhere with wifi, although I don’t usually choose to do that. Different people prefer to work in different environments, but personally, I find buzzing coffeeshops too distracting. Organizing a workspace that suits your needs is crucial. I’ve spent my time and money purposely creating a space in my home that I love and that makes me feel the most comfortable. Why would I not want to spend my work day in that wonderful space? I do, however, use public spaces for events or client meetings, because I still love a good excuse for a latte.
Q: Was there anything you had to overcome in the industry? What has been hard for you?
There was definitely a learning curve when I entered the travel industry, and I didn’t always have the confidence that I have today. I was starting a new job while also starting my own business, so understandably, the initial process felt overwhelming. One day I was learning about hundreds of suppliers, different booking systems, and how to communicate with clients, and the next day I was learning marketing, finance, and social-media skills. Being a perfectionist, I was very hard on myself for not being able to do everything perfectly right from the beginning. I was getting down on myself, and it was consequently affecting my work. I decided to take some time off to re-evaluate my goals and to set a clear path for myself and my business. I broke things down into attainable steps and implemented an organizational system to keep things simple and clear for myself and future team members. I am so thankful for my amazing host agency and support team who have always been there to provide guidance and to answer questions. Thanks to them, I have access to endless training and resources, up-to-date travel advisory information, and access to all the same booking systems as a traditional brick-and-mortar agency. They have encouraged me to expand on what they taught me, and to implement my own systems as an independent agent. Knowing they will always have my back has added to my growing confidence as an agent.
Q: What are your plans for your workspace for the future?
My big future plans are to go SMALLER! I know some people can’t imagine trying to squeeze their life and business into my current space, but if you can believe it, I still have empty cupboards. While I am not a full-blown minimalist, frequent moving and travelling has led me to adopt some of these practices, such as gratitude, and I am loving it. Future expansion for my business might mean growing out of my mini corner office, but hopefully with technology on my side, I can still spend most of my time working from my sweet and cozy little home. My dream is to one day build a tiny house on wheels, because if my life is travel and my work is travel I think my house should be able to travel, too!
You can learn more about Emily’s business, and read her blog posts about living life on a large scale in fewer square feet, by clicking directly to https://emilynunes.thetravelagentnextdoor.com/
PLUS: Isn’t Elly the Dog absolutely ADORABLE? Yeah, we think so, too. 😉