When I read about Emma’s experience of working from home, I felt like mine couldn’t be more different.
As someone who likes to keep their work and home life separate, I’ve found it difficult to adapt to this new way of working. It was something I would only do if I had an appointment to go to or I was waiting in for a delivery.
When emotions run high
I work in a small team of 6, responsible for arranging thousands of peoples' journeys across Essex. The summer months are the busiest time for us and we often respond to challenging phone calls and emails from service users. This takes its toll on you emotionally.
Some of my colleagues enjoy working from home as they save on travel costs. For me, it’s more than just the cost of travel. Before lockdown, I was lucky that my daily commute to work was an enjoyable walk down the river. It set me up for the day both mentally and physically and helped me to unwind after a busy day.
The commute to work also helped keep a separation between work and home life. The morning routine of doing your hair and make-up and putting on work clothes gave me a sense of purpose.
No escape from work
Coming downstairs every morning to my new ‘office’ doesn’t have the same appeal. Also, with a laptop, monitor and other equipment, my new office has taken over my dining room.
Not everyone has a dedicated work space in their homes. Some of my colleagues are struggling with how the work equipment has taken over their personal spaces. Kitchen tables and bedrooms have become our new desks. It’s difficult to shut off at the end of the day when your equipment is sat there staring at you, it feels like there is no escape from work!
Team work makes the dream work
When you're at home, it can make you feel isolated and disconnected. I think it’s important to make time to check in with each other.
Although we can all do our jobs from home, I miss the instant connection of sitting with my team. We are also a sociable bunch, supporting each other through the highs and lows of the week, going out for birthday lunches and having a laugh.
As I’m the newest member of the team I also need to be able to get advice from my colleagues quickly. It’s so much easier to turn to someone sat next to you to talk things through rather than have another video call.
A work/life balancing act
Working from home for a long period of time has had a physical and mental impact on me.
To improve my wellbeing, and because I missed my daily walk to work, I decided to use this time to take up the couch to 5k running challenge. I’ve completed it and I’m now a regular runner.
I've been really glad to be part of a piece of research that Essex County Council has been doing, looking at the impact of digital remote working.