PJs, Pink Floyd and pesky pets: A light-hearted guide to working at home

Reporter David Hannant's cat Willow decides to intervene as he works from home. Picture: David Hanna

Reporter David Hannant's cat Willow decides to intervene as he works from home. Picture: David Hannant - Credit: Archant

With government advice on “social distancing” getting more and more stringent by the day, many of us that have the option to work from home have been advised to do so.

Keeping to your regular routine is beneficial. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Pra-chid

Keeping to your regular routine is beneficial. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Pra-chid - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As a news reporter, I’m in the position of being one of those who can take that option up - although obviously with several adaptations to the way I work - and thus my commute into the office has temporarily been considerably slashed

This isn’t anything new to me though - while my time at Archant is approaching five years now, the job I had immediately before being offered a place in my work family was based at home, so I have a bit of experience of this.

With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to working in the home - how to do it and its obvious pros and cons.

• Create a comfortable working environment

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Working from home really, really isn’t as easy as pitching up somewhere and getting cracking. I wish it was, but anyone who has done it can attest to the fact that just isn’t the case.

Tuesday was the first time in several years I’ve set up camp to work at home, in my living room. And here’s where I’ll make a shocking confession - I’m not the tidiest of person.

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Without mincing my words, my living room yesterday was a pigsty. Okay, I’m slightly exaggerating, but it was at a level of untidy that was irritating, but also at a level where I wouldn’t ordinarily have been able to motivate myself to actually do anything about it.

However, working from home is enough to turn Waynetta Slob into Monica Gellar - never before have I been more motivated to want to clean. When working from home, things occur to you that don’t ordinarily occur to you. Things like “how long has it been since I last swept beneath the sofa?” and “that picture frame is point four of a degree on the wonk”. The struggle is real.

• The uniform debate

This one is definitely a benefit...

Certain jobs expect you to dress in certain ways - in my role there is an expectation to at the very least look smart and presentable. Not necessarily fully suited and booted - but at the very least respectable.

Today, I am currently dressed in an Itchy and Scratchy hoodie, my pyjama bottoms (Star Wars) and slippers which may or may not be shaped like the face of Tasmanian Devil. I might get , I might not. The choice is mine.

While I’m far from looking smart, I’m saving water and effort on the washing - result.

• The tea and coffee debate

In the workplace, I’m a fairly big coffee drinker. My head of news Ian Clarke and I do rounds at Archant Towers and sometimes treat it as a game and keep score. More often than not these resemble cricket sores more than football scores - particularly when Ian gets going.

The making of a brew though, is almost as much of a social activity as it is an act of thirst quenching. I mean, who boils a kettle for one?

And it’s not until you have made it to noon without hitting double figures in cups of coffee that you notice how important those cups of coffee are.

• Get the tunes on

An obvious benefit of being able to work from home is that you will not be encroaching on the space and environment of colleagues - you’re in control.

Music can be great to help concentration, but in an office environment finding an artist or a genre that everyone agrees on can be akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack.

For example, person A might find Scandinavian death metal the most soothing accompaniment there is - but person B might find it just the slightest bit distracting.

I tend to find Sigur Ros go down fairly well as work music and, since you asked, this column was written to the tune of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

• Problematic co-workers

Let’s be honest, every office has that one person you dread having to spend time with. That one person that knows how to rub everybody up the wrong way - even if its just a clash of personalities.

Thankfully, for me, I’m that person in this office - so for my colleagues also working at home, distance is probably welcome.

However, for every problematic co-worker you avoid, there is...

• Problematic pets

Now I appreciate not all of us have pets, so this won’t be a universal problem. But for those of us that do, it can be something of a double-edged sword.

I’m currently sharing my workspace with a two-and-a-half-year-old tabby cat by the name of Wilow.

Willow is very much a house cat - I got her as a kitten and living close to a main road I decided it was best to condition her to live indoors.

And like most cats, she’s prone to sneak attacks, insisting on wanting to occupy the space you need and demanding attention at inconvenient times.

In the office, you will seldom get up an return to find somebody sitting in your seat. At home with a cat, you seldom don’t.

It is clear that working from home is challenging and new for many of us - however, like anything, the most important thing is to let to pros outweigh the cons and keep reminding yourselves of why we are doing it.

Clearly we are living in uncertain and challenging times, but looking at the bigger picture it is not worth putting the health and wellbeing of yourselves and others at risk by forcing yourself to go into the office.

Yes it can be lonely and having face-to-face human interaction is always preferable, but it has its benefits too so chuck on your PJs, stick on some music and crack on!

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