And The Working From Home Debate Begins… Again

A person sitting on the floor and working from home during pandemic

Little did we know, while celebrating New Years Eve of 2019, that we would actually be cheering ourselves into… a global crisis. The highly unanticipated pandemic, has encouraged many discussions and debates, surrounding working from home – and the prospects of permanently introducing, greater levels of flexibility… into our working lives.

Due to Coronavirus cases being on the rise again – and another lockdown inevitable… the nation has been asked once again by the government, to work from home where possible. This time around however – it’s different… because we now know, what it is that we can expect. We’ve realised what it means to us to work from home – and our opinions on the matter have grown.

If you had asked me about the prospect, of working from home last year – I wouldn’t have known what to make of it. While I know that I would have liked the idea, of having the comfort of my own surroundings – at the same time, I also know… that I would have been nervous about stepping into such uncharted territory. Fast forward a few months into the pandemic – where flexible working became our reality – and it’s meant that i’ve had the space to develop my thoughts, on the pros and cons of home-working…

So, here goes:

Positive Outcome No. 1 – More Rest

This one, is as simple as stated. Since it was no longer necessary to get up so early; it meant that instead of rushing around each morning, I could instead, take a little more time in bed – and then get ready, without the pressure of having to ‘dress-up’ each day. The outcome for me, was that I didn’t feel as drained come the weekend… and feedback had itthat I seemed more relaxed while at home.

Positive Outcome No. 2 – Goodbye Traffic Jams and Carbon Emissions

Far fewer people were driving into work during the first lockdown… meaning, that the stress of spending too much time stuck in trafficwas virtually non-existent. Home workers didn’t have to face it – and for the frontline workers, their journey times were usually halved – due to the roads being so clear. For me – and for many others... this meant that stress levels reduced… along with the harmful carbon emissions – flooding into our atmosphere and ruining our earth.

Positive Outcome No. 3 – The Office Chit-Chat

The office banter… oh lord. I’m sure we can agree – well some of us anyway, that the general day-to-day chit-chat in an office, can be outright distracting and unproductive. Of course, it can be great to have a catch up with our colleagues, but let’s face it – when you add up all the little conversations, that take place within the office each day – you’re likely talking… more than an hour of your working day – basically down the drain. I found that while working from home, I could usually concentrate more, because I could crack on without Sally or Sarah popping in every twenty minutes for a chat.

We then of course, also have the introverts. And introverts, will almost always work more productively – in the tranquillity of their own space. Being introverted doesn’t have to mean unsociable or unfriendly – it simply means a little shy… or not shy. But, whatever it means – it’s somebody who just happens to thrive, in a more peaceful – less-banter orientated environment – and that’s okay.

Positive Outcome No. 4 A Calmer Me – apparently…

So, without the added stresses of having to get up at the crack-of-dawn, find presentable work attire and slap on some make up… then to spend fifty minutes driving into work when the traffic was bad… the general consensus amongst my family, was that I seemed more present and contented. And, to be quite frank – I can say that I would agree with this observation.

Positive Outcome No. 5 – Energy and Productivity

For me, working from home provided me with an ideal family-work-life-balance; which ultimately meant – that myself and my family, were in a better… more energised place. It meant that I felt motivated, to get on with my work at home – and it also meant that I didn’t find any of it to be a chore. Working from home – gave me more time and energy, to get work done… and to also be more present with my son. I found, that because I had more time – and was comfortable at home… I on many occasions actually worked overtime.

And for the cons…

Negative Outcome No. 1 The Convenience of Face-To-Face Interaction

The first negative outcome for me, was the lack of human interaction. And yes, I’m aware that this contradicts, what I previously said about office chit-chat. What I mean… is in the sense of convenience. What I missed while working at home, was the convenience – of being able to show my colleague something straight away... rather than having to rely on the likes of Microsoft Teams. Similarly, if my manager wanted to show me something, she would also have to do it via Microsoft Teams… and occasionally, the internet connection would let us down. Due to barriers such as these, it made me feel, that professional interactions, in some ways – are always going to be stronger, when working closely together.

Negative Outcome No. 2 Two Words... The Fridge

While working from home, I noticed that I was visiting my fridge a little more than usual. I found that concentrating on work… made me feel more hungry – and although much of this hunger will have been psychological… it didn’t seem to stop me opening that cool box several times too often each day!

And To Conclude…

Since gaining a much deeper insight – into home-working-life… and coming to the realisation, that it is in fact feasible… I can’t help but feel, that Covid-19, has placed ‘working from home’ – firmly on the map. To me it seems, that the pandemic has left an indelible imprint on our working culture… and it will likely shape the way that things are done… for the years to come . It’s calved an alternative route – for professionals to explore.

So, for the productive introverts – who have demonstrated that their work can be carried out successfully from home – – I saylet them. And… for the social butterflies who chit-chat their way around the office – and prefer being in an office environment – let them remain in the office. To me… It’s – as – simple – as – that.

I would absolutely love to hear, your own experiences of Covid-19 and working from home, so please – leave your comments down below and subscribe : )

With warm wishes as always,

Olivia xo

The Tale of COVID-19

This year – 2020, has been an extraordinary year for all of us… in different kinds of ways.

Speaking for myself – I sat cooped up in my bedroom ‘working from home’ for months-on-end. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, my son’s daddy was at home full-time – so in the knowledge that I had a reliable ‘babysitter’… I moved my computer from downstairs, into our bedroom upstairs – for the peace and quiet. While I’ll admit, this set-up did feel a tad strange – it just seemed to be a considerably less distracting alternative – to trawling through spreadsheets… with ‘Cat in The Hat’ reverberating in the background.

So, while acclimating to this bizarre, work-from-home routine – and spending our evenings glued to the BBC news, watching Coronavirus spiral out of control across the globe – in frightening increments each day… naturally, I began to reflect upon this life – in the most profound ways.

Why and how was this happening? Was the origin of this devastating outbreak, really a fish market in Wuhan? Did it seep through the vents of an underground laboratory? Or… was it a manifestation of a supernatural force – an interception of human kind… sent to protect Mother Earth? Was it a divine force convincing us – that enough was enough..? And when the message didn’t appear to be getting through to us all – would the force continue to get stronger?

Divine intervention – attempt number one, initially zoned in on a few thousand Brits – sending them into the supermarkets, in a buy-all-you-can frenzy. Shelves were stripped to their core, leaving key workers, the vulnerable and the elderly – unable to access the most basic essentials, this being – foods, hygiene products and toilet paper.

Inevitably – the nation became angry and bitter – bitter towards the imbeciles, that the divine force sent into our shops – to hoard our supplies. This then lead to a big congregation (at a two-meter-distance of course) – of politicians, having a series of discussions about how they would tackle this madness. Basic life lessons, began being delivered to the public, via the means of television and radio – explaining to human beings, how we should take only what we need; and why we should and can – care for each other by washing our hands.

The British for some reason, were still not getting the message. The nation was insistent upon the idea, that this ‘Covid thing’ was a hoax; and so, they were still going out – without their masks on. The Brits continued to hoard toilet paper in case of… well, I’m not sure.

Divine intervention number two – when basic lessons didn’t work for the proud British, our very own prime minister Boris Johnson, was confirmed to be Covid-19 positive. He was looking like death-warmed-up… and then suddenly – Britain woke up. Now that the main man himself had the virus; shortly after this – the rules were to be implemented, that the wearing of facial masks would be essential. The nonchalant British, would no-longer be allowed to enter the shops – for their toilet roll, if they refused to wear their masks – and restrictions on essential-item-purchases, were to be put in place.

So, with Covid cases beginning to soar in the UK; and with Boris looking so poorly – now in intensive care… Britain finally started taking notice. The nation began abiding by the rules and wearing their masks – and also buying less; and ever-so-gradually – the supermarkets began to replenish. British people began to realise, that they could in fact survive – with far less than they thought; and that there were people around them – in much greater need. Some Brits, even began joining the NHS volunteering scheme – and helping people less fortunate than themselves… divine force beginning to work 😉

Like me, many people suddenly found themselves, in a position – where they were now forced to work from home. The ones who were on furlough, became more grateful for things as simple as time; and the ones working from home, became more appreciative for the fact that they still had a job. The self-employed tore their hair out and prayed for a solution, while others… gave up.

The younger generation, had to find ways to entertain themselves – some even discovered new talents – they never knew they had. Some became impatient – making silly decisions, such as: hosting in-door gatherings – and making the older generation mad. And like me – many of the 90’s babies, entered their 30th year this year… but in an entirely atypical way – in the security blanket of lock-down. So NO boogie-boogie for us.

Air pollution, green house gasses – our biggest global threat. Yet we watched on in astonishment, as the roads began to clear – and a clean-silence filled our air. These unprecedented timesnot-so-surprisingly triggered, a major decrease in harmful carbon emissions… the only positive outcome – to emerge from Covid-19.

But now... the students have now gone back to school – and many of us have returned to work. One by one, we observe the vehicles creeping back in; and on the radio we hear that cases of Covid are climbing back-up again. So around in circles we go… waiting on a vaccine… and a divine interventionnumber-three!

This year has certainly been a sad and uncertain one – unfortunately for many people. Too many human beings, have lost their jobs or even their loved ones – due to this very real virus. For some, anxiety levels have soared… and for the very lucky few – it’s been an outlandishly-extravagant – family-bonding fresh chapter. Whatever Covid-19, has meant to you or to me – the one thing that I’m sure we can all agree on is that it’s been outright blighting and peculiar… and the fight will go on.