The perks and pitfalls of working from home
Navigating the new ‘normal’ of remote working has presented numerous challenges for the WREN team – from balancing childcare, to overcoming feelings of isolation and distraction. Here, the team detail their tips and structures to overcoming these issues, as well as the unexpected positives of working from home.
Sophie: In order to start the day right and ensure productivity, for me, the most important thing is to have a shower and get dressed – exactly as I would if I were going into the office. I also found out recently that having an allocated space in the house for work (that is not my bedroom) is a good idea, especially if it has a proper desk and a door. My partner likes to listen to music whilst he works and has numerous phone calls throughout the day, so being able to shut out the noise has been key to helping maintain focus.
Trying to keep to my regular workday routine is more difficult with my partner at home, but I make sure I stick to my normal hours so there is a distinction between the working day and the evening. As I normally would with the team, I also make sure I get out for a walk at lunch time. This signals the half-way point of the day and stops me from feeling too sluggish!
Susanna: Working at home right now is definitely different with having my husband working beside me as well! However, we have a good system set up on the kitchen table with plenty of light coming in when the sun is shining, which is lovely, and I do feel very thankful that we both have jobs we can do from home. Another positive aspect is clients’ understanding so signatures can now be digital and timelines are a little more flexible as they realise that Olivia, for example, has little ones to also keep occupied and she is having to juggle her hours. We are all in the same boat with working from home so there is a shared sense of making the most of a challenging situation.
Olivia: I have always enjoyed working from home but, like many others, I am now also having to look after my young children, and juggling the two has been challenging. My advice for anyone else in the same circumstances would be to make the most of nap times (and any other time they are asleep!) and accept that you probably aren’t going to be able to work your normal contracted hours. Having a toddler on your lap who is trying to eat your mouse and smash your keyboard with their fist is not a conducive working environment. I am very fortunate to have a boss like Susanna who has been very understanding of my limitations and ad hoc working hours.
Toby: When thinking about working at home, it is easy to imagine that you will be yielding to all sorts of distractions and temptations – whether it be playing with the dog or raiding the biscuit tin. But in reality, you just treat it like any other work day! An obvious advantage is not having to commute in to work, and I have found it very easy commandeering my existing PC set-up to use it as my work space.
Our morning meetings over Skype will never replace interacting in person with one another, nor will messaging over Slack make up for quick work conversations in the office, but both are very effective, albeit with the odd hitch. On the plus side, we can also continue to complain about the weather from the confines of our own homes! Most of us are also lucky enough to have great walks close to our homes, so we can emulate the walks we have around the office in Fressingfield.
Rachel: What I miss most about working in the office is the people. I am definitely a people person and wouldn’t chose to work alone so I am missing our interactions massively – especially our lunchtimes together where we chat about anything and everything. I also actually really enjoy my commute; it is like a bookend to each day, and walking to the kitchen table just isn’t the same. But in these current circumstances I am grateful to have a job that I can continue to do from home and I hope that before too long the WRENmedia team will be back together in the office again.