I would imagine that you have read many a blog post about working from home (WFH) over this last year. The pandemic has forced those of us that can WFH to decamp to our front room, kitchen, spare bedroom, or SOFA. When I sold a smaller desk last year, the bidding on eBay was frantic and I almost got as much for it as I paid new.
I am very fortunate to be able to work from our house, as I realise that not all of us are so fortunate. I have the use of our spare bedroom as my office. My wife has been gracious enough to move her office setup into our front room, as with us both being on so many calls, sharing an office had become unproductive. My office is at the back of our house so it’s quiet and I get good light through the window, which I am hoping to open if the warmer temperatures ever reach our island shores.
The last office job I had was in London and I was commuting from my suburban home around 2.5 hours a day, which added up to 12.5 hours a week. This was before the pandemic washed over our lives, with the management having a very office based working approach with little flexibility to WFH. I do not mind admitting that my mental health suffered, and the commute was one of the reasons I decided to take a 6-month career break.
In my new world I am not losing hours commuting anymore and my productivity and energy levels are so much higher. But as with most things in life it’s not all sweetness and light. I do miss the interaction an office gives and the social beer with colleagues after work is always special.
For me, the secret to a successful WFH environment is to differentiate between working and not working. The 5 insights I would offer to make your WFH experience as positive as possible would be:
1. Shut the door – To me this symbolically shuts your work zone off from the rest of the house/flat, etc. Once the door is shut, it’s time to work.
2. Dress for work – I don’t own any slippers, but if I did, I would not wear them. I like to dress smart casual as I would if I were in an office or meeting a client.
3. Buy a decent desk – You are going to be spending a lot of time at your desk, so invest in one that you like. Personally, I have a largish desk with plenty of room to work.
4. Schedule lunch – I make sure to schedule lunch in our company’s shared calendar, as it is important to have a good routine and a decent break to refuel and switch off.
5. Close the laptop – I make sure to close my laptop at the end of my working day, as for me this signals work time to end and personal life to begin.
So now I am working from home, but I am not just working from home, I am thriving from home. We’re going to start using our office hub in the City of London, but for a lot of my week I will still be WFH, so I’m going to enjoy the best of both worlds. Meeting colleagues and customers will be great face-to-face, but sitting writing a blog… well you can guess where I am!