Tag Archives: working from home

101 days in Lockdown

Image result for female cyclist on road

Candice: So, it’s 101 days since the UK went into full lockdown. Since then I’ve:

  • got very familiar with the local park and housing estate, as I’ve walked around them about 100 times.
  • been very creative with card and tissue paper, coming up with ways to entertain a 6-year-old.
  • made so many cups of tea I’ve lost count, though I don’t think going back and forth to the kitchen counts anywhere near enough steps on my watch.
  • sorted through a huge box of old toys and dolls clothes delivered by my parents and discovered lots of memories (and some great things for my daughter to play with).
  • moved around bedrooms in the house as I’ve tried to find the ideal spot to work, or make it feel like I am going somewhere different each day.
  • tried not to become obsessed with the deliveries arriving for the neighbour who is doing lots of work on their house.
  • got used to one routine: child at home juggling work and school work, to now drop off and pick up at school, with what seems like a very short window between the two.
  • used my bike lots, riding back and forth to school, escaping on bad days for longer bike rides to clear my mind.
  • discovered I can work out at home, but it’s not as effective as going to the gym. (Joe Wicks, you’re good but it’s not enough to offset the sweets/biscuits/Haribo that is consumed when you are having a bad day.)

I’ve proofread two books, read at least 10 more; some good, some truly terrible (Phil, why did you make me read ‘The unbearable lightness of scones’, that is 4 hours of my life I’ll never get back!)

I’ve got frustrated, been in tears, and been angry with the stupidity of all this, and all the people who will insist on putting stupid comments on social media. I’ve turned off my social media and then slowly dipped back in, but once a day rather than every half an hour, to temper my anger.

I’m still not sure what the new norm will be. I’ve got used to only going to the shops occasionally and timing it for when it’s quiet – my bank balance is much happier for this. I now look up when I hear the sound of a plane going over, as this is a very unusual occurrence. I crave a holiday, but I have no idea what that will look like when it comes. I know I’ll be shattered when I eventually have to start travelling to the office, and I’ll have no idea what to wear. And the idea of having to do my face and hair each morning….

But I know I’ll look forward to seeing people. I have really missed socialising. I’ve been lucky and seen quite a lot of my family but, apart from school-related people, everyone else has been hibernating. I went for a run on Monday with a work colleague, at a distance of course, but it was so nice to see someone different!

And my writing chum and I – well we have our second meet on Friday. Coffee, cake, either end of a park bench and book talk. Sounds good to me.

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I’m in the pub!

pubwritingPhil: I’m writing this while sat in the Star & Garter pub and I’ve been here since 10am. It’s 3 o’clock now.

This isn’t as louche as it might sound, quite the opposite in fact.

For those of us who work from home a lot, any change of scenery is welcome. You don’t realise how much you miss the camaraderie of office work until you no longer have it.

So, a couple of people locally had a good idea. Every Monday, you can book space in a posh pub. The tables are there, if you bring an extension lead there is electricity and in the air all the free WiFi you could desire.

Drinks are on sale – obviously there is beer but also tea, coffee and soft drinks. While the normal state of affairs for a writer might involve a blood:alcohol level of around 50:50, for the more serious types sobriety is useful.

I’ve mentioned the benefits of working from different locations before. Taking myself out of my normal environment means I can focus. Of course I lack many of the facilities I have at home but if the job in hand only needs a laptop and mobile phone then I’m good to go.

Sometimes the pub acts as a holiday. Over the weekend, I put in quite a bit of work so today is a day off, or day on The Book. 1500 words written and a revised timeline produced in a spreadsheet rather than scribbled on a piece of paper stained with cake from the Dorridge branch of Costa.

This home-working away from home lark is a good idea. I can’t help feeling that there are lots of pubs that could offer the service. After all, we don’t need any supervision, just flog the odd drink and at lunchtime, bring the specials board over for our orders. When the day is quiet, I suspect we’re quite a boost to the takings.

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The loneliness of the long distance writer

BeerPhil: OK, so the Nolan has outed me. I do have a newish job that has been eating up my time. It’s not exactly “fancy” but at it pays the bills and I’m chuffed to have it.

Some of you will know that I have moved from being the nerdy guy in IT when I met Candice, to being a really nerdy writer for British Railway Modelling Magazine as well as editing an on-line mag 3 times a week in the same field. Quite frankly, I’m such an anorak I’m amazed she still talks to me…

Anyway, that’s my excuse for being a bit rubbish on the book front. No new house, apart from a miniature one, and any bump I have is all doughnuts and not baby.

The problem with all this is that I work from home. No office for me. Colleagues are on the end of a phone or e-mail. I drive 70 miles to the office once a month for an editorial meeting. Apart from that, unless we meet up at an exhibition, then I’m on my own.

Which is why, despite crazy deadlines hanging over me, an editor champing at the bit to push files in the direction of the designer, and the Christmas break driving everyone nuts as everything has to be at the press a week earlier, by the time some of you are reading this, I hope to be in London. Drinking beer.

Us home workers don’t get a Christmas “do”. I’m not complaining, as I’ve explained in the past, I’m not a great fan of enforced office jollity. I’m not the one wearing flashing reindeer and throwing shapes on the photocopiers. I can deal with meeting colleagues from my own and even rival publications for a drink while enjoying the capitals festive ambiance. It’s a small world I work in and the chance to catch up with the gossip isn’t to be missed.

More to the point, while working from home allows the worker to choose their own hours – as long as my copy goes in on time no one worries when I wrote it – sometimes those hours are well outside the normal office ones. I need a day off and I need it badly. Even writing about a hobby can be hard work and there’s a lot more keyboard hammering to do yet! The hours I’ll be chosing to work will include this weekend.

Which brings me back to The Book.

You might think that The Book would be the last thing on my mind. Far from it; I am really looking forward to getting back in to a world populated by the characters who are in our heads. It might still be typing on a screen but it’s a very different beast. OK, there’s no publisher (yet) sitting waiting for copy but that might come. Self-publishing actually sounds exciting, a whole new world to experience. Yes, there will be setbacks but I can’t let this thing go now, so as soon as Madam puts down the roller we’ll be back at it I hope.

Something to look forward to in the new year.

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