I have been working from home for well over a year now, bar forthnightly visits to our teeny tiny office. I work behind the scenes at an academic library.
This was due to the government order to stay at home because of the outbreak of COVID-19 last March, and then subsequently because our offices were required as study spaces for the students at our institution.
It seems unlikely that we will all return to an office of some kind on a full time basis, for any foreseeable future.
Now, I understand that my position, and this post, is coming from a place of privilege.
I have been so, so thankful during this time for that I have a job, that I can do (largely) from home, allowing me to carry on providing for us. And that I have had a suitable space in my house I can do this work in. And, that I have a suitable internet connection, so I can do the work.
Many, many others have not been so fortunate. And many do not have a job where working from home is even an option.
I am also fortunate in that our supervisor and head of department are human, and understand that their employees are grownups who can manage their own time and workload themselves.
Good things about working from home are that:
- You have a very short commute.
In a previous life, I would normally dash out the door in the morning to catch the bus on time on a work day, inhaling a piece of buttered toast as I went.
Not so much now! I can wake up much later and just spend a short amount of time getting ready for work, before signing in for the day. I now have my breakfast as I am working.
When I am done with work for the day instead of having to collect my things and find my way to the bus, I can just sign off, close everything down, and I am immediately home and ready to relax for the evening.
Being at home also means I can go for a walk around our local park at lunchtime, for a change of scene.
- It’s safe and feels safe.
Husband is clinically extremely vulnerable, and so I would feel very nervous about returning to office working the way it was pre-COVID, in case I inadvertently catch COVID-19 and bring it home.
Even now when I work in our little office on campus, there is a lot of prep that goes into going there. I take two lateral flow tests across three days before I go. I leave early on the day I travel in, in case I want to wait for the next bus if the one that arrives is too full. And once I am in the building on site, I sanitise my hands and then clean my way in, wiping down all contact points, and then wipe my way out again as I leave.
And, although I know it can happen anywhere, to anyone, at anytime: I was groped by a complete stranger while walking to the bus, after work ended for the day. In the middle of the city centre, with lots of people around.
Working from home means any risks like that are eliminated.
- There is no need to dress up (much), and you can set up your workspace however you want.
Working from home has meant that I have in fact used more of my clothes, that I would previously not have worn as it is not professional to wear at the office. This has been made possible by that you only see the top half of the person on camera. And that is when you even have the camera on – several of my colleagues leave it off when on calls and in meetings.
Wearing jeans or short jean skirts? Weird patterned tights? Big fluffy slippers? Pyjamas (not for me personally but know others do this)? No problem at all.
It has also meant that I have been able to have my work space set up how I want. It can be as hot or cold as I want, I can light candles, I can have a big throw over me as I work. I can listen to weird music (with my headphones in).
The Cat in particular seems to appreciate a comfortable home office.
- You can be flexible with your time/using it wisely.
Our department works to timetabled tasks for every hour, and we pitch in and help each other once we are done with our own work. This still gives me time to do tasks in between work tasks, or while databases etc are loading/reports are compiling. I can quickly go and put a load of washing on, or hang it out. Or just put the dinner in the oven. Or call the utility company and be on hold for 45 minutes, while you are doing work.
- You are available.
There have been times when going to work especially when I worked six and even seven days a week has felt wrong, as it meant Husband was home being lonely for hours and hours. Or it meant I could not be present if he had phone calls or assessments etc. to do. I would return home, not knowing quite what had happened or what I would find.
Working from home has meant that even if I am just in the front room/office working, at least I am there and I can support Husband.
The Cat also seems happy that I am working from home.
- More lunch options.
Working from home means that you are not restricted to a lunch that has to be portable, that you have to take with you when you go to work, in a container. On cold days, I can make myself a cheese toastie in our panini maker and have some soup puttering in the stove, ready for lunchtime. Or I can nuke myself a jacket potato in the microwave. Or make myself a fresh salad.
- No queues for anything.
Following on from the point above, working from home means that there are no queues for anything. I don’t have to wait for and queue for the bus. No colleagues waiting for the lift, or the toilet (often) or to use the microwave, or to use the kettle.
- It saves me money.
Working from home saves me money. I don’t have to top up my bus pass for travel to and from work, it means I don’t get wear and tear on my clothes like I used to working in an office full-time, plus I get a lot of wear out of clothes I would normally not be able to wear in the office. I don’t pass any shops when working from home, so there’s no temptation to buy things. Apart from the odd charity shop treasure find, of course…..
- You can be home for deliveries/when work needs doing.
Similar to my point about being available, working from home for me has meant that I am home when deliveries arrive, or when we are having maintenance or work done to the house. I do not have to come home to find a delivery slip saying I was not in, and then having to spend my time taking the bus to collect my parcel from the depot.
- I have the company of the Cat.
Need I say more? (I totally think all companies should have a policy that allow pets at work!)
What about you? Are you working from home? What do you think is the best part about working from home?