https://servicetransformation.blog.essex.gov.uk/2020/04/20/home-comforts-keeping-up-morale-when-youre-locked-down/

Home comforts: keeping up morale when you're locked down

In the Service Transformation team working from home used to happen twice-weekly . It is now an inescapable way of life.

With work and home suddenly converging, keeping a balance has become a high-wire act. And as the world takes a step back, we find ourselves being invited into our colleagues’ homes every day.

This is how we're juggling all our roles and coping with life under one roof.

Caroline and Caroline with gin bottle
Caroline planning a post-work G&T break

Katie, continuous improvement lead/Kanban mum

Katie's cat and laptop
Katie's cat Max 'helping' with some work

I think this has very quickly started to feel normal! I would reflect that this change in the way of working has really altered how I, and I think all of us, actually work from home.

In a work sense, it is almost easier to get things ‘done’. It's easy to locate people. There’s no need to book a room. It feels as though some of the perceived barriers to work have been removed, enabling an increase in pace and delivery.

From a personal perspective, working at home solo with a very energetic 7 and 9 year olds has been very challenging. The responsibility of being a fully functioning team member that adds value and delivers as well as a full-time parent and teacher is exhausting!

The ‘pupils’ are generally reluctant and not very welcoming of my Kanban board style of planning their day. The Xbox is too tempting! However, this is an unprecedented opportunity to spend time with my kids as well as delivering some critical and valuable work.

We have discovered lots of beautiful countryside on our doorstep and a bit of a new love for where we live.

Maria, service designer/habitat-builder

desk an laptop
Maria's craft stand up desk

Even though they’ve merged into the same physical space, I make a real effort to separate work and home tasks.

I’ll get up, get dressed and put on makeup as if I was going into the office. This extends to where I’m working. Even if it’s the kitchen table, if I’m working there, it’s my workspace. Full stop.

I’ve managed to improvise a standing desk using a stool, some books and boxes. I put some ambient music on my headphones to get me going, but I make sure I take a proper lunch break away from where I’m working.

Sally, head of service transformation/guilt-ridden mountaineer

I need to make the time to have a proper walk every day, it is essential for me.

I try to get up around 6.30 and go for a walk up the mountain behind my house for about an hour. I neglected to do this for 2 mornings this week and it made a negative impact to my mood and resilience.

Also, my dog just stared at me with big-eyed disappointment and hurt. Although, to be fair, this is a well honed face for any type of food.

Jack, developer/dog-cuddler

Tig the dog with ball
Tig the dog, getting more cuddles than usual

Now I’m working from home full time, I always make sure I get out in the garden, keep in touch with my workmates, and most importantly, never miss the chance to give the dog a cuddle.

Lottie, content designer/teacher/toddler-wrangler

Juggling so many roles is really tough. I tend to work in short blocks, so I can balance work stuff with looking after the kids.

I find naptime is a great time to get stuff done or, even better, take some much-needed rest.

There are some really good things online to keep your kids active, and more importantly, tire them out before bedtime. We do PE with Joe Wicks, maths with Carol Vorderman and live yoga.

I try to get outdoors, to get a breath of fresh air and remind myself that the sky is still there. Also, being able to have a laugh with my team about non-work related things has never felt more important.

Most of all, remember, this is only temporary. Don’t try to do it all, you’ll just burn out (and accept that your toddler will make a cameo in all your work calls).

Bhupinder, service designer/epic jogger

I find that the best way to break up the day is to get outdoors. Go for a walk or a run. You’re allowed out, once a day to exercise, so, while the sun’s out, take advantage!

Also, keep some semblance of normality by having a coffee and a chat with your colleagues, just like you would in the office.

Martin, developer/Marmite lover

For Martin, working from home means one thing.

A jar of Marmite
This speaks for itself

May, continuous improvement practitioner/temporary non-commuter

In my one bit of government-mandated exercise a day, I’ve really enjoyed getting out and exploring some footpaths around where I live. You never know what you’re going to find!

I take the time I’d usually spend commuting to do yoga videos or read a book. It’s really important to have some time for yourself in these crazy times.

Lino, lead content designer/accomplished isolationist

I'm surprised at how easy I've found self-isolation. Fact is that I'm doing more with friends who live in other countries than I ever have, so it's felt like a really sociable time. As well as kickboxing at home, I've done life drawing in Wales, drinks in the south of France and been to the movies (yes, movies not the cinema) in Brooklyn.

My non-London friends and I would never have done any of this had we been busy physically doing these things with the other friends who live within a 10 mile radius.

Also, as I'm working from home, and everyone else is, arranging these activities is so easy. And no one has any excuses.

I don't like going out though. The masks, gloves and 2m distancing is really depressing. It reminds me that something is going on. And it feels wrong. I live in London. Whether people are talking, laughing or arguing in the streets, they are interacting. That isn't happening. It's far too quiet.

My only fear is that I'll get too used to it all and never leave the house!

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5 comments

  1. Comment by Helen Crumley posted on

    Really loved reading this, particularly agree with the work gets done quicker with barriers removed and the focus on short spurts and keeping the 'work' traditions such as coffee, catch ups and breaks.

    As an ex-Londoner I can completely relate to Lino, I still miss the hustle and bustle and it must be very odd without it.

    Also, hello Lottie and Caroline, love the Bombay Sapphire cameo (from Helen C)

    Reply
  2. Comment by Lottie posted on

    Hi Helen, good to hear from you! Hope you are keeping well 🙂

    Reply
    • Replies to Lottie>

      Comment by Helen Crumley posted on

      Very well thanks, very busy in my new role but very rewarding. Hope you are the family are all well x

      Reply

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