I’m lucky enough to have an employer where as long as I have an internet connection, I can work anywhere.
It is a huge privilege to be able to have the flexibility to work in this way and I appreciate the trust that has been bestow on me to get work done in an environment where fellow colleagues are not located.
The benefits for me encompass no commute time, a choice in environment where I can thrive and The flexibility to manage my work in a way that suits my working style.
Whilst I love working from home, for me personally I was getting to the stage where being in one room was not conducive to working at my best. I knew I needed to take action, but I felt my options where limited.
Due to personal circumstances, I’m confined to my bedroom in terms of working space at home.
Initially this was fine, but slowly I realised I spent a lot of time in one room in my house and it started to feel like a prison, which was not great for my mental health, especially in the winter months.
I considered going into the office every day, but that then would take away the flexibility in my role, also coupled with fuel and parking rises and the commute time, I was not keen to go down that avenue.
Knowing that I needed to make a change to keep my mind healthy, I started to investigate ways in which I could get away from my house.
Initially it was fine going to other locations with just my laptop and charger, but I found that I had to plan the work carefully, due to not having all the kit I needed for some tasks.
Below I explore the step I’ve taken to enable myself to be truly mobile and the considerations I’ve had to explore.
When I started, I was given the means to work from home, these have been brilliant if I want to be static at home, but have found that I needed to add to my kit if I wanted to make myself more mobile.
Yes, there is a cost to me personally, but the gain mentally and productively has been invaluable.
- Mobile phone contract – I upgraded to an unlimited plan with my current mobile phone provider. This has given me the flexibility to work when I can’t log on to a secure wifi network in locations such as coffee shops, hospitals and libraries. The security this brings means that I’m not worried about the protocols of the venue I choose. It also means that if I’m house sitting, I don’t have to pick friends and family who have wifi. I’m also very lucky have access to a vehicle that has surface space. The ability to drive to beautiful locations and lose myself in my work and surrounding has been a game changer.
- Wireless keyboard and mouse – It is not essential when my laptop has an integrated keyboard and track pad, but not being wired or confined to your laptop items means there is more flexibility with how you set up. You are not restricted to the length of a cable, or the position of your laptop screen, and less cables hanging about the place the less likely you are to get caught up. The one thing you do need to make sure of is that you either keep the items charged or you take the lead with you.
- Portable monitor – Some of the work I do is more comfortable when using an additional monitor. At home I have one, but I found that if I ever worked away from home, that I would have to be careful about the tasks I would be doing. Having a lightweight monitor means that I have the ability to do all the visual tasks that I need, away from my base home set up.
- Portable laptop riser – this is a small portable riser that packs down to the size of pencil case. The riser lifts the laptop so that the screen is at a suitable height to work from, meaning that I don’t get neck pain or compromise my posture. This does mean that my integrated keyboard and track pad becomes less usable, so the wireless keyboard and mouse become more essential.
- Headphones – As part of my at home kit, I was issued headphone that I use when away from home too. I can listen to meetings without being a distraction to others around me. One thing to note is that if you are in a public space then being aware of meetings that may require you to participate verbally, means that you may have to be careful where you pick as a location. Teams is great at removing background noise, so the impact of others around you is less of a worry.
- Extension lead – When working in other locations you can’t always be sure of where a power source is located, so having an extension lead on hand gives you the flexibility to not be on top of a power supply.
- My luxury Item – a coffee warmer, this is pure indulgence, but I do recommend getting one if you visit locations where you will be having hot beverages, especially if you cant control the temperature. This item has now become an item that I crack out at home too especially in the cooler months, as I can get engrossed in an activity and forget about my drink, this way if I do it will still hot when I come to it.
- Bag – Having a one that comfortably accommodates all the above is crucial if you walk to any of the locations, I decided on a bag that is waterproof in case I get caught in the rain, I can be sure my equipment is safe and protected.
I now have the freedom to move where I’m comfortable, as a neurodiverse person my surroundings can really affect my performance.
Having the ability to move location when I need is better for my productivity, mental health, and physical health. Walking to locations means that I get out of the house and move my body when I can quite easily just stay in one room all day long. The freedom to move and adapt when things aren’t quite right means that my employer is getting more out of me.
Picking my environment is hugely important, whilst a coffee shop can be fun it is not always right for the activity at hand and can sometime be over whelming depending on the time of day.
I often have to consider the light, noise levels, temperature, access to surfaces, the comfort of furniture and access to power when thinking about a location to use.
- Connection - This has been something that is always at the back of my mind, working for a local authority does mean that caution has to be exercised. As discussed above, making sure you use a wifi connection that is secure is paramount to ensure the security of data.
- Equipment – There are times when you have to step away from your equipment, when in public spaces I have still not figured what I need to do to not have to pack up all the equipment at take it with me when stepping away. This means that there is potential for the loss of the space and power you are using, which could be detrimental.
- Positioning – Thinking about where you position yourself so that others can’t see your screen when in a public space. even the reflection of windows and mirrors have to be thought about if you are dealing with sensitive data.
Visiting the Office
The purpose of the changes above where more about me being away from my home, but what I have found is that it also enables me to work better in the office.
Now that I am kitted up, I don’t have to rely on finding a working space within the office with all of my equipment needs, I just have them at hand, because now I am truly mobile.
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