A month ago I posted on LinkedIn, sharing what I’d learnt about working from home after doing so for three weeks. Yesterday, I was asked if my advice would still be the same and I realise that seven weeks of home working, with an unknown number of weeks left, meant it wouldn’t be.
There are still a few basics that help me. I only work at my desk, in my spare room, so that I can keep a work-life balance and switch off when I’m done for the day. I also have space from my boyfriend so that we can catch up with friends independently, as we would do in the outside world. The rest, however, has evolved a bit since I first shared it.
I’m now less fussed about dressing as I would for work every day. Although I’m lucky to have a fairly decent desk set-up it’s not completely optimal, so I have put a bit more value on being comfortable in what I wear. This also helps ensure I have time for a workout at lunch, which is actually something I’ll surprisingly miss when I’m back in the office. And no-one can see my trackies in a video meeting, anyway!
I drink less hot drinks when the weather is warmer but I’m still making sure I’m taking breaks when I need them. There’s a quote I’ve seen a lot which is “You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.” This really resonates with me and it’s a great reminder that things aren’t normal right now and we can’t be expected to act as if they were. My boss has been flexible and supportive and I know that it’s okay if I’m not quite with it sometimes.
Staying in touch with people, both for work and socially, hasn’t been too hard – even with the odd technical glitch. However, last week a lot of people seemed to be getting fatigued with lockdown and I actually felt socially drained. I’ve found that people are reaching out more than usual and whilst it’s great to know that friends want to stay in touch I felt my introverted self wanting to hide after four days of video calls and messages from numerous group chats. My boyfriend and I now make sure one evening a week is a phone-free film night so that we can focus on ourselves and not be glued to screens all the time. I also try not to feel bad about ignoring my phone when I need to switch off, and my friends completely understand when I explain why I’ve gone awol. That being said, despite the anxiety of having video calls with friendship groups for the first time, I arranged a video quiz with friends who I ordinarily might not have seen as a group and it was really wonderful to see their faces.
I’ve also not gone on many walks lately. As I don’t drive I already had a recurring food delivery pre-lockdown and the deliveries are slowly becoming more reliable so I haven’t often had to go out, which I’m grateful for. Part of me feels like I’m wasting the sunshine and Pompey seafront, but I’m able to work out in my lounge and sit in the garden so I can still get exercise and fresh air. I want to go out, and I imagine I will soon, but I know it’s safer at home so I’m trying not to beat myself up for staying safe when I can.
It’s not easy, especially as people close to me have to go out to work or deal with difficult employers, but we all need to work out what is best for us and our individual circumstances without comparing everything we do. I’ve only baked twice, I’d already recently started exercising, and I’m not learning any new skills. It’s okay to focus on your wellbeing to get through this and not emerge as a new shiny version of yourself, which is definitely worth remembering during Mental Health Awareness Week. Be kind, to others but also to yourself.
Oh, and I’m also still very jealous of my new colleagues who sleep all day.