Working from home used to feel like a luxury but when you have to do it full-time it becomes a slightly different proposition than a way to grab some cheeky time to yourself, or a chance to walk the children to and from school. Having worked from home for 10 years, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far:
1. Inanimate objects have the power of telepathy
The washing up, the pile of post, the Lego that your children have distributed across the carpet. All of them sending out messages to attend to them. You will miss the days when you used to shut the door on it all and head to an office where the carpets are Lego-free.
2. You will get through certain items at an alarming rate
Coffee, milk, bread, toilet roll. When you work in an office there are fairies that come and replenish these items. If you have the fortune to work for a corporate they may even top up your fruit bowl and have themed restaurant days where a chef will cook Chinese food for you at a vastly subsidised rate. This does not happen when you work from home and all that’s in your cupboard is a packet of Super Noodles.
3. Walking from one room to the other becomes a walk too far
What? You mean I have to walk from the spare room to the kitchen just to get a drink?! I’m not sure if it’s because you have to navigate the washing up / post / Lego to get to your destination but when I worked in a ‘proper’ office you would have thought my chair was on fire the amount of times I got up. That’s why…….
4. Sometimes doing the laundry is ok
With a chair that’s not on fire, and a feeling you can’t be bothered to cross the threshold from one room to another, let alone walk to the shops to replenish your coffee, milk and toilet roll, you’re in real danger of your bottom pooling until it cannot be freed from your chair without industrial cutters. Get up, stretch your legs, take five minutes out.
5. Mirrors and video calls are useful
Working on your own at home comes with a real risk of developing disgusting eating habits and unforgivable clothing combinations. Nobody wants to Zoom you to find you’re sitting in your pyjamas or that you have a big string of cheese hanging off your chin as you eat hunched over your laptop. Get dressed for calls or perhaps hang a mirror near your desk – just beware that you don’t turn into a budgie and start talking to your reflection….
6. Less time meeting, more time doing!
One of the trade-offs of working in an office is that you must regularly participate in the spirit-crushing activity that is Being In A Meeting. Usually someone will be late because they’ve stopped to buy a latte, or are in another meeting which is running over because everyone wanted a coffee. Sometimes you will get to the end of the meeting and nothing has been decided except flat whites are the new lattes. While there’s a distinct downside to not meeting your colleagues in person, now is definitely the time to embrace your opportunity to do!
Like this? You’ll find more ‘top tips’ on working from home and tales of family life as if really is in Reasons to be Cheerful Part II – available for download for just £1.99 during lock down and £5.99 in print.