Like many people, I have been working from home since March. And yes, like many people we thought this was temporary and now in November we are still here. Probably to January at the very earliest and to be honest I do not think many of us will go back to being in an office 5/5. Before March I was part time and went in 2 days per week usually, working from home 1. However, that was a completely different working at home situation. On those days I barely had meetings, that was the purpose of being at home – to get stuff done without meetings. I would often work the morning from a coffee shop so I was not interrupted by the school run and I could work pretty much for anywhere in the house. And usually I was the only person working in the house on those days.
Since March, this has obviously changed. Initially I spread my working hours over five days interspersed with childcare as schools were closed. I would put in a good couple of hours on the early shift to get ahead of the day. As Mike was working at home, we agreed different places to work; I was upstairs in the spare room, he was downstairs in the
junk room study. This arrangement worked pretty well until late June. I liked being upstairs as I could see the garden and the children on the trampoline etc. However, I wasn’t convinced about working in the spare room, as sometimes I sleep in there and I thought I will always be in the Covid-stress mindset in this place. However, I did really like having a dedicated desk at home and also going to the same place each morning. This really helped with planning my day, prioritising and tackling the mountain of tasks each morning. Even when I had been going into the office, I had so many meetings and was out and about so much that I rarely started the day at the same place more than once a week. I used to joke about getting rid of my desk as I spent so much time in meetings or out of the office.
In late June though we rescued my mother for a few weeks and as she was due to stay in the spare room. For the benefit of my relationship, I thought that it was best if I relocated my office, so I moved into the
junk room study with Mike, which meant a bit of clearing out and sorting furniture etc. This worked well too because we were still split shifting childcare so did not normally have meetings at the same time. I would still get up early and in the summer we took time off for family bike rides and so on. I also thought that from September I would probably start going back into the office one day a week.
Ah and now we reach November. When the kids are started back at school, working routines changed again. Trying to put in a couple of hours before the school run was no longer viable and now I had a big chunk of the day child free. But little prospect of regular return to the office. Every week I look at my video and see the damp patch on the wall behind my head and the horrible blinds that I hate. This week I had had enough! So operation “up my backdrop game” was launched this weekend. Turning around my desk, investing in a few house plants (our local garden centre handily has a “working at home” bundle) and repurposing a shelving unit that was languishing the spare room, I now have a much nicer office “nook” and a rather more professional backdrop. This has pleased me muchly and feels like a good acknowledgement of the ongoing situation. I also can look at the window to the front of my house rather than a wall. I appreciate that I am extremely fortunate to be able to have options around my working environment. Even if you don’t have options, just buying a plant or seeing if you can turn around your set up a little can revitalise your working environment. I still have to relocate if Mike and I are both on meetings but then I can work in one of the kids rooms – the one with the under water scene is always fun 😉