I’ve been working from home full-time now for close to four years. It’s a luxury when you’re normally office-based, but when your house officially becomes your workplace it’s a very different proposition than simply a way to sneak in a cheeky lunch with friends, avoid annoying colleagues, or give you a break from sitting in traffic for two hours a day. Here’s what I’ve learnt so far…
1. Inanimate objects have the power of telepathy
The washing up, the pile of post, the Lego that your children have distributed across the carpet. All of them sending out messages to attend to them. You will miss the days when you used to shut the door on it all and head to an office where the carpets are Lego-free.
2. You will get through certain items at an alarming rate
Coffee, milk, bread, toilet roll. When you work in an office there are magical fairies that come and replenish these items. If you have the fortune to work for a large corporate they may even top up your fruit bowl and have themed days in the restaurant where the chef will cook Chinese food for you at a vastly subsidised rate. When you’re working from home, this does not happen. Believe me.
3. Walking from one room to the other becomes a walk too far
What? You mean I have to walk from the office to the kitchen just to get a drink?! I’m not sure if it’s because you have to navigate the washing up / post / Lego to get to your destination but when I worked in a ‘proper’ office you would have thought my chair was on fire the amount of times I got up. That’s why…….
4. Sometimes, doing the laundry is OK
With a chair that is not on fire, and a feeling that you can’t be bothered to cross even the threshold from one room to another, let alone drive a couple of miles to replenish your coffee, milk, bread and toilet roll, then you are in real danger of your bottom pooling until it cannot be freed from your chair without industrial grease or cutters. Get up, stretch your legs, take five minutes out.
5. Mirrors and visitors are useful
Left unchecked, working from home comes with a real risk of developing disgusting eating habits and unforgivable clothing combinations. Nobody wants to Skype you to find you’re sitting in your pyjamas or that you have a big string of Panini cheese hanging off your chin as you eat lunch hunched over your laptop. Arrange to see people or perhaps hang a mirror near your desk – just beware that you don’t turn into a budgie and start talking to your reflection….
6. Less time meeting, more time doing!
One of the trade-offs of working in an office is that you must regularly participate in the mind-numbing, spirit-crushing activity that is “being in a meeting”. Usually someone will be late because they’ve stopped to buy a latte, or are in another meeting which is running late because everyone wanted a coffee which held up the start of that meeting by ten minutes. Sometimes you will get to the end of the meeting and nothing has been decided except flat whites are the new lattes. Embrace your freedom to ‘do’!