TEO HÄRÉN, one of the most requested experts on creativity in Sweden, is the author of Härabete, a book about working wherever you are most productive. Remote work clicked for him when he was asked to do some tasks while on vacation. He found that he was inspired by his surroundings and produced some of his best work.
Subscribe to the Collaboration Superpowers Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.
His tips for working remotely:
- Keep your eye out for new workspaces and give them a go.
- Realize the power you have to choose how you do your work.
Podcast production by Podcast Monster
Graphic design by Alfred Boland
Lisette: Welcome, everybody, to this remote interview. My name is Lisette and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely. And I’m totally excited because today on the line we have Teo Härén. I’ll let you pronounce it. It’s horrible, sorry. And Teo, it says on your TEDx profile in Stockholm, one of the most requested experts on creativity in Sweden. And you’ve written a book. I can’t pronounce it either. But I did make a cardboard. I’ll let you introduce the book. It’s basically a book on working where you work best. So I’ve given people a little bit of information, but now I’m going to let you expand upon some of these things. So let’s start with what does your anywhere office look like. And you gave me a tour of outside. Maybe you want to show people what it looks like outside. You’re in Sweden right now, right?
Teo: We’re in Sweden, and it’s winter. We have a meter or three feet or something of snow. That’s outside. But that’s not necessarily my office though. The whole point of the book, and actually the whole point of how I have been working for the last 15 years, is that I don’t define an office at all. I look for the office I need to solve my task for the moment. Of course, I could do some tasks here, but I could also do some tasks outside or maybe at the airport or in the bathtub or at a large office with other people. So the whole point of the book and the whole point of how I live is I always look for the best possible place for who I am and what I’m supposed to do.
Lisette: And what inspired you to write this book?
Teo: It’s funny when I look back at it because 15 years ago, there was no Internet. I had a chance to go with my wife to Africa for the first time. But I had to do some work at that specific week. So I couldn’t really leave for vacation. I had to do my work. And then I just asked my boss not thinking he would say yes, but I asked him anyway. I said, I’ll bring my computer to South Africa and I’ll do the job in South Africa. And then I would send a disk, those all the disks you had. Do you remember the disk?
Lisette: Oh yeah, totally [laughs].
Teo: My boss would fax me down the things I needed to do my work. And then I would sit in this beautiful house by the ocean, overlooking dolphins and whales in Africa in December, and doing my work. And when I was done, I would save it to a disk and then I would go to the office and they would send it by plane to my office in Sweden. And they would have my work when they needed it. And then I could have vacation. The point and this whole thing that inspired me was that noticed that that job was the best job I had ever done. It was twice as fast as I did it in my office, and it was twice as good as well. So I realized by changing the way I worked, I could improve what I did. And also a side effect was that I got three weeks in South Africa instead of one week because I couldn’t take a three-week vacation. So when I was done working, at evenings and at weekends, I was in Africa. I wasn’t home. I was safariing and swimming with whales. And I could take a break for 15 minutes and go down and swim with the dolphins, and then go up and work again. It was brilliant. And I realized I want to do more with this. So I worked like that for seven or eight years, then I wrote a book, and then I just kept on doing it, brilliant.
Lisette: Yeah. I think once you get a taste… It sounds like you really had an aha moment. And it wasn’t easy.
Teo: I had two. The second aha moment was three years later. I was on a safari. And I was sitting by one of the water holes with literally elephants and zebras and crocodiles. And I was working. And I looked down on my arms and I had goose-bumps. I was goose-bumping at my office because everything was so brilliant. My hands were typing away like crazy. That was the second aha moment because I realized I never had goose-bumps working at an office, so why should I not work at safari camps or by the beach or in the bathtub or at the airport, if that makes me goose-bump? I think you should goose-bump more when you work.
Lisette: Right, given if you have the opportunity to do work that you love, you should take it.
Teo: It wasn’t the work. It was the place. It wasn’t the work that made me goose-bump. It was that I could do the ordinary work. I still remember what I did that at water hole. I was sending invoices. I was sending invoices. That’s the most boring thing I do. And I was goose-bumping while I was doing boring work because I did that boring work at a very inspiring place. And everybody else was there on vacation. And I realized I’m here getting paid to look at elephants and crocodiles.
Lisette: Right, like they’re on vacation and you’re on life, like you’re just living.
Teo: I’m working. And if I could just say that because in the last years, I must’ve been yelled at 15 or 20 times with people on vacation would approach me sitting there with my laptop – the feet in the pool and the laptop on my knee. And I would be working. And people would go out and yell at me and say, you need to relax. You have to learn how to live your life, and stuff like that because they were thinking I’m working on my vacation. And then I would tell them I’m not working on my vacation. This is work. And when I’m done working, I will have a vacation. But that’s next week. This is work. And I do it better here, so I’m going to work here by the pool. And then they get even angrier. I can’t explain that.
Lisette: It’s an interesting reaction. The first thing that comes to mind, is it jealousy? What causes such a reaction? Also, it sounds like you were doing this and it wasn’t easy when you were doing this. You have to ship disks back and they’re faxing you things. The technology is so much easier now. It’s so brilliant that you just don’t even have the question. It’s easy now. But why do you think people are resisting this sort of work-life integration? Why is it so hard to catch on?
Teo: I think you mentioned three things in your question. That’s actually the answer. You said jealousy, and I think that’s a big part – especially in Sweden, for example. I think that’s different in different countries. But jealousy is definitely a part of it, in the sense that if you’re at a workplace of maybe you’re 20 people and only 10 of you can do this, then the other people will be jealous, so that they won’t let you either – with this crazy logic that if I can’t do it, you’re not allowed to do it either.
Lisette: I didn’t think of that because there are some people that because of the nature of the work, they may not be able to do this.
Teo: The receptionist or maybe the CEO. The CEO is probably the biggest problem because maybe he or she is the person that can’t do this the least. Maybe they can just do it for two or three weeks a year. So they would stop the other people with stupid arguments. Well, if I can’t do it, you can’t do it either – which is crazy argument.
Teo: Yeah, and it’s jealousy.
Lisette: It’s interesting though because when you say the CEO is the biggest problem because when I ask people about why is remote working so hard and what the challenge is, there always comes back as an unequivocal, unarguable, swift answer that just says management. I was surprised by that because I thought I didn’t expect it. People aren’t even thinking about it when I ask. It’s never I’m not really sure. It’s always management.
Teo: When you talk to the managers – because for the last 10 years, I have – you talk to them and then you ask them, okay, but why? What’s the reason? And they give you the most stupid reasons like how would I know that they are working, for example, which is totally a non-argument because like we’re doing now, I can just tell the boss I’m going to work from The Maldives for two weeks. And if you don’t trust me, I will have my webcam on 24/7, at least between 8:00 and 5:00. So you can go online from your own office. I’m actually going to be the only employee that you can check from your own office, and then if you want to check the other people, you have to go around the office to see that they are actually working when they’re at the office, which most people don’t do all the time anyway. So it’s not a valid argument. If you don’t trust me, check me. I can install a program where you can see what I type when I type it, and you can see that I’m actually working. And then they say, well, I trust you, or I trust my staff. So I don’t have to do that. And then you go, either you trust them, then why wouldn’t you let them work at the best possible place? Or you don’t trust them, then why don’t you just accept that and then just let them show on video that they actually do work. And of course, everybody agrees. It’s not the hours or where you’re at that’s important. It’s what you do. So if you can still show your magic… And that’s the point with my book. The point is it’s not that you get the job done; it’s that you do the job at the place where you do it the absolute best. How can a manager say no to that? If I say I think I work 20 percent faster if I do this from The Maldives, how can you have a manager that says no, I don’t want you to work 20 percent faster. I want you to work at 80 percent in the office. It’s just plain stupid.
Lisette: Right. So what is it that is so good about leaving the office? What is it that’s so good about switching our place when we work?
Teo: Actually, I would say it’s just leaving the office. Let’s say you’re going to do invoicing. Let me give an example. I have a twin brother who looks like me. We are identical twins.
Lisette: I noticed that as I was researching.
Teo: Who is this guy?
Lisette: Did I do something wrong?
Teo: Same genes, same upbringing, looks the same, same job, actually. We’re very similar, same grades in school and stuff. My wife mistook him for me at my wedding.
Teo: Yeah, ex-wife, actually.
Lisette: You guys are really similar, clearly.
Teo: Very similar. I forgave her. Anyway, if we’re going to do invoicing – for example, which is a good example – I find it very boring to do the invoices. So I want to do it at a very beautiful place. I can save invoices for two or three months, and then go to the ocean and sit at a café, and then just do that boring stuff in four hours, but do it at a very inspiring place. So it makes me feel good even though the job is boring. My brother hates invoicing as well, but he solves it in another way. He says I find it so boring, so I want to sit in a cellar or in a room with no windows. So it’s so boring that I do this as quickly as I can so that I can leave it and then go to the ocean and relax. That’s his way of solving it. So when you say why is it good to leave the office, my answer is, well, it’s not. If you find the office to be the best place to work, you should work 100 percent at your office. The point is I have yet to meet one person who says all year round, doing all different tasks I have, and regardless of how I feel privately, I always find the office to be the best place to do all my tasks. No one has said yes to that question. Some people say I find the office to be the best place 90 percent of the time. And then I said, perfect, where are you spending the rest of your time, the 10 percent? And they say at the office. And I say that’s wrong. You should spend those 10 percent at a better place than the office.
Lisette: Right. So how do you recommend for people to find their place? I don’t know if that’s going way too far out of scope, but it sounds like it’s a very creative process in some ways. And it seems like that’s where you have expertise in these creative processes. The most requested experts on creativity. How does it tie in?
Teo: I do agree. My main job is to do lectures on creativity. I must’ve asked 100,000 people where do you get your best ideas. And no one has ever said at the office. They say when I’m jogging or when I go to sleep or when I wake up or when I’m at the bar with other people getting drunk or whatever, but it’s never at work. That’s a different story, but it just shows that the office is not built at most places to be the place where you get your ideas. So I do think leaving the office is good for creativity. I’m not saying that. I definitely agree. But the question was how do you find these places. And I save them. In everyday life when I travel or if I go out for lunch or whatever I do, I notice this sounds kind of new-agey, but I reflect on the energy or how I feel, rather. How do I feel when I’m at the airport? Let me take the airport as an example because you know the meet and greet area where people come out to meet their relatives. Some of them have been for six months in Afghanistan or somewhere. And they come up for meeting and they see their wife. They haven’t seen her for six months. And they just go crying and laughing and hugging. It’s a beautiful place. So if I have very boring things to do, even more boring than invoicing, I will save them in my Outlook in a special folder that I call the very boring stuff, and when that folder is full of two or three hours’ work and I have a trip coming up, I will go to the airport three hours before I need to be there. And then I will go to the meet and greet and I will sit in that café that’s outside the meet and greet area, and I will do this terrible, terrible, boring things. And every 15 minutes, there will be somebody coming out of the meet and greet seeing their husband for the first time in six months, crying, screaming, laughing. And I’m sitting and crying, inspired by those people. So I get so much energy from those people coming out from the meet and greet. And then I go, okay, that’s life. That’s beautiful. Okay, let’s do some boring stuff for 15 minutes. And then I hear and I look up and I see the crying. And that comes from me sitting in that café having a cup of coffee 10 years ago, and just realizing I must be tired. I travel for a long time. And then I realized, wow! These people give me so much energy. I’m tired. I’ve traveled for 24 hours, and still I’m so much happier now when I see these people. So then I noticed that this place gives me a lot of energy. So I’m alive and happy, even though I’m very tired. Maybe I should try to do boring, boring things here instead of in the bathtub or at the house. And then I tried it and it worked so well. And then I do all my boring stuff at the airport. Every two or three weeks, I’m at the airport. It can take a few hours.
Lisette: So you’re there early. So there’s no stress. And I like the idea of finding the places that give you energy because I think that’s really important in terms of where do you get the flow.
Teo: And it’s different flow. For example, this interview will be terrible to do at the meet and greet at the airport because there’s screaming and a lot of people talking. Even though it’s perfect to have high energy when you do a podcast like this, it’s not a good idea to do it at the airport. So it’s different energies for different things. We did one book about how to inspire kids’ creativity. When we did the launching, how should we launch this book thing, we actually went to one of the biggest child attractions in Stockholm. So we worked at this child attraction café where there were about 200 kids. And we’re working with this how to inspire kids’ creativity. And all around us were so many kids. That’s a very special energy that was very good for what we were doing. Any other book would be terrible to do the launching work at the fair like this was, but for this book it was perfect. So it’s always what do I need, who am I, and what am I supposed to do now for work. And then combining these three things and choose the right spot. And that’s what’s going to be very different. If you want to launch a book, maybe you would do it in nature. And my wife would do the same thing. Maybe she would do it in a bar.
Lisette: Right. So really, it’s so individual in terms of what motives people, what gives people energy. And the idea then would just be try things. Go out and just try different things that work for you. And what I’ve called it is…My boyfriend is crazy about Switzerland, so we go there all the time, and to go rock climbing and adventuring. There are all kinds of terrible adventures you can get yourself into in Switzerland. But we’ve called it a work holiday because he said, hey, we both work completely online. Why are we just working from home? Why don’t we go and explore the world a little bit? Just like you said when you were in Africa. In the evenings, we could go on these lovely, long walks through the mountains, or go to the local bar. Just explore the city that we were in and just live there like a local for a while. And we called it a work holiday. So it’s not a holiday. It’s not working. It’s the most intensive work-life fusion that you could have. And I have to say, it was brilliant. You look out the window and there are the mountains. And I love coming back home again too. That’s also nice. But I find you just get so much from traveling that it’s important that people do it.
Teo: Oh, definitely. And I’m Swedish. Everybody in Sweden has a five-week vacation. But in America, you have two or something. In Japan, they have 10 days, but they use four days or something. The less vacations you have, the more important it is to actually do what you’re just talking about now. It’s not a vacation, you’re working, but you get all the perks from the vacation – meeting new people and seeing new sights and getting new energy and relaxing actually.
Lisette: Right, because you’re not surrounded by the piles that are built up in your house, whatever types of piles those might be.
Teo: And I find the perfect way to do this. I do this a lot, but the perfect way for me to do it is if I’m going on a vacation… like I’m going next week to The States. I’m going to be away for eight days. I’ll take the first two days of this trip as work so that I settle in The States. But also, it’s not a clean-cut between work and holiday. It’s like I’m going to work four hours the first day I’m there, and then two hours the next. It’s pacing into vacation. Then the vacation starts. The jetlag is over. I had some time to do the most important things that came up. And then the vacation starts, and I’m more relaxed even before the vacation starts.
Lisette: Because you have settled in.
Teo: Yeah, exactly. And also the same thing when you leave vacation. A lot of people come back from vacation. And two weeks later, they have piles of things to do. So you can do it at the end as well. You have two weeks vacation, but the last three days, you… I call work outside the box, or whatever you call it. And then you do one hour three days before you come back, three hours two days before. And then maybe you do a full day the last day on your vacation. But when you come home, you’ve been away for 10 days, but you’re just going to tell the boss I took nine days’ vacation. I was away 10 days, but I worked one day. So I’m not going to take vacation that day.
Lisette: Right. Are there any specific tools that you in particular love using or that you recommend for people using?
Teo: I’m not going to answer your question directly, but I think the biggest problem is not the tools. It’s people’s mindset. Because as you said a few years ago, there was actually a technical dilemma of shipping disks with UPS and terrible internet connection and batteries that lasted for two hours and no internet connection and whatever. But now Microsoft and Apple and all these companies have solved the problem. The problems are gone. Well, I can’t sit outside in the sun with my laptop. Well, you have the wrong laptop. Buy a new laptop and you can. You can use your phone outside, can’t you? Then you can work on an iPad. It works brilliantly. The battery life is too short. Okay, fine, again, work on an iPad. It’s 10 hours. The newest Dell computer has 16 hours. It’s too heavy to carry the computer. Well, you don’t have the right laptop. Take an ultrabook or whatever. The problems are gone. People still use the arguments from 10 years ago when we talked about this for the first time. When we said now you can work anywhere you like, and then people tried it and said it’s a lot of hassle. And they don’t try it again because it was a hassle. Now all the technical stuff just works. It’s in the cloud. You have battery time. You have screens that work. I’m working on the beach with my laptop. And don’t you get sand in your laptop? No, I don’t. I have it on my knees. There’s no sand on my knees. It works. It’s brilliant. It works brilliantly. Just do it.
Lisette: Right, just take the leap and go.
Teo: It’s so easy to try. When I do lectures about this, of course, I like to provoke and I show people how I went to Mauritius and Sri Lanka and then stuff like that. And then people go, oh, I couldn’t do that. That’s fine. I don’t want you to. I want to show you that this is how you can do it 15 years from now. I want you to take one hour a week and work from a café if it’s sunny outside. Take your laptop or take a paper and pen and a problem and then solve the problem in the sunshine instead of sitting inside, wishing you were in the sunshine. Make a telephone list and go outside and make the phone call outside and see if you get more energy than sitting inside and having the same talk. So start easy. And if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad system. It means you chose the wrong spot. So try it again.
Lisette: Right, small safe-to-fail experiments. Okay, you worked at the coffee shop and you’ve got a screaming baby the whole time.
Teo: Exactly, very good point.
Lisette: You didn’t lose too much. You lost an hour. And we’ve all lost hours.
Teo: At offices? Are you kidding? [laughs].
Lisette: So what I find interesting though, when you say that when you give this in lectures, people immediately say, oh, I couldn’t do that. Where do you think that’s coming from? That’s not a trust issue. Or maybe it’s a self-trust issue. I don’t know. But I find that response like I would be like hell yeah. I’m totally on it. I’d be running out the door. I don’t have the response. And of course, I wouldn’t. I’ve been in this so long. But the “I can’t do that”, I find that so interesting.
Teo: And I have yet to meet one person who has given me one argument against this thesis or this way of thinking because you can’t. It’s foolproof. You can’t argue against it because the point again is to work at place where you work the best. That’s the thesis. And you can’t argue against that because it doesn’t say you’re going to go to The Maldives. It doesn’t say you’re going to sit in the bathtub. It says you’re going to go where you work the best. The point is that the office never is the best place for all people all the time. So the consequences will be that sometimes you will work at an office or in a bathtub or from The Maldives. Or skiing, for example, is perfect. I love working and skiing. So I would go tomorrow when all the snow is on the ground. I could go to the ski slope and I would think in the ski lift going up. And then I will take the time off when I go down skiing. So I will need eight hours. I will take four hours of vacation. And that will be when I’m sitting in the lift going up. I’ll take up my phone and I would think and I would write down my ideas. And then I would shut the phone off and go down. It’s like working in the interval. So three hours in the slope and then 10 minutes in the ski lift. That’s perfect, for me.
Lisette: Even just skiing in the morning and working in the afternoon or vice versa.
Lisette: Yeah, sounds ideal, in fact.
Teo: It is.
Lisette: What are some of the questions that you get from people in your lectures? I’m curious. What are people asking about?
Teo: The most common thing – and we talked about it earlier – is the jealousy part. How can I do this if other people can’t? That’s the most common one. And maybe the most common one is that I don’t have a job that allows me to do this. I have to be at the office because of meetings, for example, or whatever. And when you talk to them… I talk to people working at kindergarten with kids. They say I can’t do this. I have to be here with the kids. And you talk to them and you realize they have eight hours a month where they do scheduling or plans on what they are going to do and whatever. They sit by their computers eight hours a month, but they still sit at the kindergarten when they do that – even though they could sit anywhere else. And then they tell you that they disturb me with the screams from the kids. Or my colleagues will always come in when I’m supposed to do the scheduling. They come in and disturb me. So they understand that it’s the better thing to leave the kindergarten, do the scheduling, and come back. And still they do it there. And I argue, okay, fine, I can do it maybe a hundred hours a month. You can do with eight. Then it’s more important that you do it than I do it. Eight hours, more or less, for me, that doesn’t matter. For you, it could change your whole life if you do your scheduling at the café across the street from the kindergarten instead of doing it. So people don’t realize how much power you have to divide how you do your work. I have to do phone calls. Fine, but you have to be able to make phone calls between 9:00 and 5:00. Or can you say that I’m going to do all my phone calls between 3:00 and 5:00. And then put your jobs in sections and say I’m going to do emails now between 9:00 and 10:00. And since emails could be done anywhere, I’m going to do it from home before I go to work. If that makes my morning with the kids easier, I could relax a bit and do the emails from home. And then don’t do emails between 3:00 and 4:00. So you can control your job much more than people realize.
Lisette: So we just need to take a little more initiative for ourselves. Let’s sit down and really look at the kind of work that I’m doing, and then figure out when to schedule it.
Teo: Yes, and then the last part. If I know what I’m supposed to do and I know what place is the place to do it, then take responsibility. It’s your responsibility to take your job to that place. And you’re going to increase productivity and you’re going to decrease stress.
Lisette: Right. It seems super obvious to me, especially now that the technology is no longer a barrier. In most of my days, at the end of the day, I always write down which countries I’ve spoken to because I talk to people all over the world. And it’s just so fun. Some days you’re like Moscow, São Paulo, all over the world. It’s totally cool. That was never available in the past for those kinds of things.
Teo: For example, I have a bathtub in my office. Almost every day when I’m not doing lectures – well, I’m at home at my upper house – I spend 45 minutes working in the bathtub. It’s 20 percent meditating and 80 percent working. But I reflect on where I am in my job and what I want to do that day. And I just write it down on my phone. But I’m in the bathtub for 45 minutes, but I hundred percent look at those 45 minutes as work. So I’m working in the bathtub. And one day, I just realized how many workplaces, how many offices do have a bathtub at all. Most people can’t use the bathtub because there are no bathtubs. There should be more bathtubs in offices, but there are not. But there are bathtubs at home. So maybe then you should be in that if that suits you. I do this in lecture. People say they couldn’t work in a bathtub. I didn’t tell you to. I said I worked good in bathtubs. That’s why I’m in the bathtub. Where do you work good? At the café. Fine, then you’re supposed to be in the café. I’m supposed to be in the bathtub.
Lisette: Right, but I would argue. You hear all the time. As often as you hear, I got the idea on my walk. I got the idea while I was jogging. You also hear I got the idea in the shower. So the bathtub is just to me another extension of a longer shower. In fact, when I lived in Los Angeles, I had a shower whiteboard. I always got so many ideas there that I needed to record them because you can’t have your phone. So I would say get yourselves a bathtub whiteboard.
Teo: It works fine with the iPad. I don’t drop it. It works fine.
Lisette: That’s scary.
Teo: Living on the edge.
Lisette: [laughs]. Yeah, it’s really living on the edge. All right, I love it. So let’s see. So you said in terms of other people advice. I was going to ask advice if other people want to start this. One thing I wrote down that you said was start small. Start small and work out from there. Is there anything else that you would add to that?
Teo: I would say that I think it’s easier if you’re a couple of people that decide to do it at the same time. If you’re in a bigger office, you would talk to other people and say should we try this. And then there will be five or six people trying it. And you said something about dare to fail or something. If six people are trying and two come back and say this was terrible and didn’t work and four of them are saying this was perfect and I got so much energy, then you can talk about this and the other two people might realize that it’s not the system that’s wrong. It’s that they picked the wrong spot. Otherwise, you try it for yourself. You try two spots and you say that didn’t work. And then maybe you’ll be stuck in your office for the rest of your life. That will be terrible.
Lisette: Yes, I call them day prisons.
Lisette: And they even look like prisons. You see these concrete buildings with the dark windows. Once you’ve tasted work holidays, you can never go back to the day prison.
Teo: That’s true. I would never go back.
Lisette: I was just thinking today that I would do anything I needed to do in order to be able to stay in the situation that I have now because I have a lovely apartment. It looks like a little tree house. It’s very relaxing. I can go anywhere. But I love working from my home. I love that. And I would do whatever took to stay working from this area, even if it meant less money because I’m not in it for the riches. I’m in it for the freedom.
Lisette: Yeah, and I think other people are in it too. And that’s one of the things that comes out in the interviews, which is most of the people that I interviewed that are doing this, they are not at all… Everybody is interested in making enough money. But nobody seems to be interested in making tons of money and living in a big palace. Everybody just wants to be able to take their kids to school in the morning, go for a walk in the afternoon. It’s really the simple stuff that we want. It’s not the crazy cars and girls. It doesn’t seem to be that.
Teo: I think there are all kinds of people. But I’m on your side there, definitely. It’s not a conflict. It’s not like if you choose this, you can’t have the fancy car. If you wanted to, you could make tons of money and still do this. But as you say, when you do this, you look at work as something else. But as you say, when you do this you look at work as something else. It’s not that you work and then you live. When you work this way, you say, okay, I live. I have my work life and I’ve got my private life. And I want my private life and work life to be as good as they can be. This is a nice point, actually, because if you’re going to read a book in your private life or leisure time, you would never sit in the office and read the book. You would say, okay, wow! It’s so beautiful outside. I’ll go outside in the sun and read the book. And after four hours when the sun goes down or a cloud comes. You will say now it’s cold. I’m going to go inside. And you say I’m going to go read this book in the bathtub or in the bed. You’re not going to say I’m going to read this book in the office because you always think I’m going to read the book. Where is the best place to read this book? So then you take responsibility to live the perfect life. So why should you not do that when you’re at the office? It’s just plain logic. You should use the same sense of logic to say, okay, I’m going to work. Where do I work the best? It’s like, okay, I’m going to jog. When am I going to jog? In the morning? No, I’m going to do it a bit later. When am I going to do the emails? In the morning? No, a bit later. So it’s the same thing. You can look at what am I supposed to do and where do I do it the best.
Lisette: So we need to basically take more responsibility for ourselves and take charge of our own productivity again, so that we don’t have to work in the office anymore.
Teo: Definitely. Most people that studied, they studied in the same way. They will go to the library if they were to read quietly. And if they wanted to discuss, they would go to a café. We all did this at university, but most people stopped when they started working.
Lisette: It’s funny because another person brought up this exact same example, this university example. At the university, there was a project and there was a due date for the project. And how you got it done was totally up to you. If you wanted to pull an all-nighter the night before, that was up to you. And then suddenly, we go to the office, and we have somebody saying that you can’t possibly do this work without me watching you. And it just seems crazy, totally crazy.
Teo: It is crazy. But it has changed. When I started 15 years ago, I remember this so well. We have a chain similar to Starbucks in Sweden. And I was working with my laptop at Starbucks in Stockholm 15 years ago. And people would come up. And as I said before, they would yell at me say you have to relax. This is your time off. This is supposed to be a break. You can’t work here. Have a coffee, relax, and then go back to work. And now, 15 years later, you go into Starbucks and 90 percent of the people in Starbucks are working and 10 percent is having a coffee. So it has totally changed. I think 15 years from now, there will be a chain of Starbucks offices that will be dedicated to people that want to work in offices, but don’t want to share that space with the kids or the people that don’t actually want to work there.
Lisette: Right. You see co-working space is coming up all over the world. People just need an office somewhere. And now they need to do it. And I think this is happening where they put offices in train stations and airports. You can just go in and just have a little space. Rent a space in an airport or a train station or wherever. You need to have a conference on the go or something, who knows? But I love it. Then I just have one more question, which is if people want to find more about your book… I’m going to put it up because I can’t say it. I’ll let you pronounce it. And if they want to find more about you, where should they go?
Teo: Well, I’m the only one in the world with a name Teo Härén, so just Google me and find me and my email address. And there are just two things they need to do if they want to read the book. The first thing is to get the book. The second part is to learn Swedish. So it’s easy.
Lisette: If people are motivated, we could find people to translate it into English finally. It sounds like the English edition needs to come out.
Teo: Definitely. I’m working on it, actually. But just as you are, I’m interested in helping people. If anyone wants advice or arguments to their boss… actually if someone is doing this and have beautiful pictures of where they are working in The Maldives or in the South Pole or wherever, I’ll be happy to get some of those images. I just love, just like you apparently, love to get inspiration from other people that have understood because that’s the best way to get more people to understand. It’s actually to show this is Marie. She’s working at the kindergarten. But eight hours a month, she’s doing it from this coffee house. This is Stefano and eight hours a week, he’s working from Switzerland because he loves it. And then quotes from their manager about how much more productive they have become. Good examples are what people need because you talk to people all over the world who have understood this and have changed. But they’re still one percent of the working force. We need to be so many more people out there telling the other 99 percent that it’s stupid, it’s not okay, it’s stupid to spend all your time in a place where you don’t work the best or the most productive, and have the least stress. It’s the obvious thing to do.
Lisette: Right. And to write down, what it is that you’re doing and find the best place for it and start experimenting. You can’t really go too wrong.
Teo: No. That’s all right. You can’t go wrong.
Lisette: So I’ll put it in the show notes for people to do this and to send in the examples of where you go on your work holiday.
Teo: Especially if they goose-bump. If they sit somewhere and they’re goose-bumping, then you take out your iPhone, you take a picture, and you email me. This is my office goose-bump moment. I just love that.
Lisette: That’s a great term. Your office goose-bump moment. I’m writing it down.
Teo: And office defined as not the office where you work, but the office you choose to work at.
Lisette: Your workspace goose-bump moment. Your waterhole goose-bump. I hope so many people have more of that because it really should be about the work that you love to do or the place that you love to be. It’s just a lovelier way to live. It’s like we’re rising up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Get the basics done. You’ve got the Wi-Fi at the bottom and all the other things at the top. We’re becoming enlightened in this way. But I love that the ability exists, so it’s cool. Well, It’s been a real pleasure talking with you today. And certainly, I will be waiting for the English translation of the book. And if anybody is from Sweden, then I’ll put the website for the book on the notes too. And I encourage people to get that. I guess I’ll let you get back to work. Thanks so much.
Teo: Thank you.
Lisette: And until next time, everybody, be powerful.