I passed a milestone this week: four months of working from home. Aside from two occasions where I went in to work (to print off something on A3), I’ve settled in to a fairly good routine. I get up early (as I’ve always done) and have breakfast. Over breakfast, I check the overnight news and social media. Then, I’ll do an hour or two of work before taking a break for a shower and some household chores. Then it’s back to work.
And now here’s the good part: I generally take a break for lunch. That’s something I hardly ever do at work. Ordinarily at work, I would heat up something and continue to work at my desk. However, working from home means that I can actually cook a hot meal, or even take a walk down the street and enjoy the lunchtime specials. I’m also saving a small fortune on coffee, as I make my own.
Then it’s back to work for a few more hours, followed by another break, dinner, and then a little more work.
Although there’s a perception amongst some that working from home means people don’t work as much (they spend time ‘under the doona” as our Prime Minister has said), that’s not been the case for me.
Four months down the track, I feel like I’m on top of work, and my productivity has increased, as I’m no longer subject to some of the distractions and interruptions of the workplace.
Yes, I miss chatting with colleagues, and there’s a lot that can be achieved through face-to-face networking that can’t be achieved through video conferencing, but I’m pretty happy with the work/life balance that’s been achieved through this terrible situation.
I’m continuing to take some time off mid-week to get out and about around Sydney. When this all started, and there’s wasn’t much to do, I found my #workfreewednesday was a bit of a waste of “annual leave”. With so many things closed, I found I was still doing a fair bit of work on my “day off”. But in the last couple of weeks, things have settled down a bit.
On Wednesday I took the day off and achieved a fair bit. I did my tax, I had a haircut, and I caught the ferry to Cockatoo Island. The Biennale of Sydney is underway, and Cockatoo Island offers lots of terrific things to see.
There are some terrific works on Cockatoo Island, and if you’re in Sydney (or planning to visit) before the end of September, I’d highly recommend catching the ferry and taking a look.
There are some downsides to working from home.
Each week I record a radio show, and I spent half the morning on Friday waiting for the jackhammers at the nearby construction site to stop. With the right microphone and some sound protection from a doona, you can achieve a fair degree of sound isolation, but jackhammers still come through. Another colleague reports it’s the possums in the roof (he lives in the country) that causes him the most grief. Another told me on social media, it was the sound of the school bell that interrupted her recordings.
Another general problem about working from home is that you can tend to become a little “slack”. A few of my colleagues have admitted to working with a blanket on their knees, another noted she missed lunch around 12, finally catching up with Weetbix at around 2.30pm; and I ate a bowl of ice-cream while chatting with a colleague at around 3.00pm. “Do you mind if I finish my lunch?”, I asked my colleague. “Sure, no worries. What are you having?”, he asked, to which I replied “ice cream”!
Still it could be a lot worse. I could be living in the United States where the situation seems to be totally out of control, with increasing rates of infection and death each day.
Or I could be in Melbourne where the situation is worsening. As I’ve spoken with colleagues in Melbourne, they’ve described how there’s a feeling that it’s all for the best if they continue to lock-down now, even if it means significant movement restrictions.
It’s happening all over again. The toilet paper thing. My rational brain never understood why there was a rush on toilet paper (during the early days of COVID-19), and I don’t understand it now.