Enforced working from home – how is that going? It might be ok while the kids are still at school or your partner is still in their office. It might even seem like a nice break from the routine.
One of the joys of my life is to have been able to work from home for nearly a decade now. If you’re just embarking on this journey, here’s what I’ve learned.
It’s still work. Yes you can watch daytime tv (but why would you want to?). There will be no sarcastic comments on the length of your coffee breaks. However, work has to be done. Get out of your pjs and into some clothes. With fewer interruptions, you may get through your tasks quickly and then there will be no-one to stop you clocking off early.
It’s still home. Don’t turn your house into an office. Close your laptop and remove it from the kitchen table at the end of the day. Play with the dog during your coffee break. You cannot recreate your office environment in the place where you wash your pants. Don’t stop home being your safe place because you are also working there.
Go outside. If you are not self-isolating, this is so crucial. Walk around the block, pop to the shops, chat to the neighbours. I never, ever stay inside all day as I did when I worked in an agency environment. I get up, peg out the washing, feed the cat, stand with the sun on my face. It is surreal and damaging to go from a busy work environment to complete solitude – interact with your world.
Work on your patience. This is self-directed. My partner also works from home but is often away. Not now he isn’t, he’s here all the freaking time. It is quite possible to love your partner and adore your children without having to be with them every second of every day. Find degrees of separation. Ban them from your work area for a couple of hours at a time. Most importantly, don’t bore them with your work just because you are at home. No-one wants to know, unless it involves really big money.
Don’t jump too soon. It’s quite possible that many people will enjoy this working from home interlude and may wish to make it a more permanent fixture in their lives. There is no right time to make this change but beware – if you are not socially established, you have suddenly chosen to close a lot of doors. Think carefully about when and how you will interact with people face to face. The richness of our relationships is fundamental to our wellbeing.
It’s worth mentioning that for us to even have this option is such a privilege. For the many who cannot easily move their job to their front room – the hospitality and entertainment industries spring to mind – this pandemic is a disaster. Let’s muddle through the best we can and who knows, maybe your work/life balance will find refreshment in the longer term.
Photo by Martin Castro on Unsplash