Senior editor and introvert extraordinaire, Victoria Stevenson, takes us on a tour of the pleasures and benefits of remote working.
There are a million articles being written at the moment about good home-working practices: set up a proper work station, maintain a routine, don’t just drag your laptop into bed when your alarm goes off, etc. All very sage advice.
What I feel is missing, though, is how to find the pure joy in working from home. Lots of us who are lucky enough to work for companies that encourage a healthy work-life balance and flexible working have discovered that WFH is not just something that people do out of necessity, but something that can have a hugely beneficial impact on our wellbeing and our productivity.
Let me take you on a little tour of the joys of home-working.
You have been given the gift of time
How long was your commute before? The average London commute is 48 minutes. I could do mine from my zone 2 flat to my zone 1 office in about an hour, traffic and general transport-madness permitting. WFH means I get an extra two hours a day to do with what I like. Sometimes that’s yoga, sometimes it’s making soup, sometimes it’s Netflix.
There is something about WFH that just makes working itself quicker. No interruptions, maybe. Apparently it takes 25 minutes to get back into a task if your concentration is broken. At home, I can get into the ‘zone’ easier and if I need something — to get a drink of water, say, I can do that without breaking my thinking. Plus no one can tap me on the shoulder and motion for me to take my earphones out (not looking at anyone in particular).
But you also just actually do have more time during the day. Everything is closer to hand. For example, from my desk to the toilets at work it’s circa 250 steps (yes, I’ve counted); from my dining table to my bathroom it’s 10. That time is going to add up. I use some of it to bounce on my little mini trampoline while listening to Beyoncé.
Similarly, my own kitchen is much closer than the office kitchen is to my desk, which brings me on to…
Maybe you’re one of those lucky people who works in an office that has its own barista. Otherwise, the coffee you make yourself at home is going to be far nicer than the stuff out of the machine at work.
This one is a cracker. Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows that they are always either freezing or boiling. You can play God with the temperature at home. Karen from accounts can’t touch your boiler.
I always have a post lunch slump. Even if I do everything right — eat slow-release foods, go for a walk in the fresh air, yadda yadda yadda — come 3pm I always feel like I need a nap and/or some chocolate. But when I’m at home, I go and lie on my bed and do a 10–15 minute guided meditation (I use the Insight Timer app but others are available). After that, I’m good to go till dinner time.
More nurturing break activities
Unless you smoke, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do if you need a break from your desk. Walk round the block? Does anyone actually do that? At home I tend to my plants. I find it a far better way to break my writer’s block than wandering round the office, trying to distract someone into shooting the breeze with me.
Any day spent wearing yoga pants is a good day.
Ultimately, successful WFH is about finding your own flow. Seeing what works for you and finding the benefits in being able to tailor your working environment to your exact preferences. In offices we have to compromise, so see this time as an opportunity to create a bespoke personal office. But make sure to chat to colleagues throughout the day — don’t get lonely.
And wash your hands.
Stay safe. x
Read more from our #ZoneWorksFromHome series: