How To

Work-sleeping tips from a guy who lived in his office for 6 months

Pillow? Check. Flashlight? Check. Frozen dinners? Check. Don’t forget your cover story

George Stroumboulopoulos sleeping under a desk

(Photo by Naomi Harris; desk by EQ3)

George Tzortzis, a former federal employee in Washington, D.C., earned $25,000 in six months by sleeping at his workplace and renting his own apartment on Airbnb. He’s now a copywriter in New York. Here’s how he remained undetected for months on end.

1. Prepare your cover story

“If you’re somebody who’s always leaving the office at 4 p.m. to go to the beach, it’s going to look weird if you’re the last one to leave. You also need an excuse ready if you get caught. I didn’t think it was going to work, so I thought I’d just tell people, ‘Oh, I was working late and got tired and didn’t feel like going home.’ So if I got caught once, I had an excuse.”

2. Stock your supplies

“You won’t be able to leave, so you’re going to need food, and it looks really weird if you show up one day with three grocery bags of frozen entrees. You have to bring a few with you every day. That goes for any other belongings you might need, like toiletries. I would bring a little bit every day, a few books, some clothes, and start filling my drawers. I bought a cheap camping mat. That was really hard to sneak in—I brought it in a suitcase on a Friday. When you bring in a suitcase, everyone wants to know where you’re going.”

3. Have dinner at your desk

“I’d stocked the freezer with frozen meals from Trader Joe’s. I’d have dinner around 7 p.m. as people were leaving. People would ask what I was working on and I would say, ‘Oh, you know, the budget has to get done for this and that.’”

4. Don’t count on getting a good night’s sleep

“I had a pillow. And I’d definitely consider a flashlight so you don’t have to turn on all the lights. Once I closed my office door, I would stay in there. If I went out, it was for a quick dash to the bathroom and back. But you don’t really get a good sleep. I was waking up a lot in the night from noises and worrying about getting caught. For your own sanity, I wouldn’t recommend doing this too often.”