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How do you manage work life versus personal life during a pandemic?

With the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are now facing working from home

Be it following Government guidance, needing to be home for children, to help reduce overheads, or simply to reduce your commute, more and more of us face a commute taking a matter of seconds instead of minutes or hours.  However, it is not all it is cracked up to be for some.  Below we share some case studies of the good, the bad, and the ugly home working situations.

The Good

Home working really suits those who don’t need to have day to day, or face to face, contact with colleagues, clients and suppliers, provided there is a good internet connection and telephone line.  However, it really requires a separate space from the rest of the home, so outside of working hours, the door can be closed and the mind can shut off to have downtime and rest periods.

Our very own Kirsty works from home and her situation shows the Good aspects of working from home.

I have a proper office in my home so I can walk into that room and know I am at work and I can crack on with the day’s tasks

In order to get into a working mindset, you really need a separate work space.  Working with a laptop on your sofa, or on the kitchen table, is not a great environment.  Later when you sit to eat or watch a film, there is no distinction between the two environments.  Subject to who you may share your home with, there will also likely be interruptions with others (be it people or pets) coming in and out.

Given the need for space for files and other papers, using a separate rooms ensures confidentiality as well as being able to leave your organised mess as it is until the next day.

There is also the health and safety aspects to take into account.  Electric desks are ideal to prevent being sat down all day.  Using the right supportive chair and have your desk ergonomically assessed (even if you do a self assessment) is really going to help prevent a sore/bad back and neck.

The routine is also very important.  Get your usual routine in place, have a wash, get dressed, go for a walk around the block if you need the feeling of ‘going out’ to work.  Think of it this way, if a fire alarm went off, can you run outside and not worry about embarrassing yourself in front of the neighbours!

The Bad

Working from home is like marmite; you either love it or you hate it.  It certainly is not a long term solution in the following situation.

Craig is very much a people person, his work involves constant interaction with others and the need for face to face discussions to review papers and plans.  Living in a studio flat, there is no spare space, no table suitable for a desk and terrible internet connection.  Whilst it is saving his employer their overheads, as they have decided to cancel some of their office leases and reduce the space they rent, Craig’s overheads have increased with the need to increase his utilities throughout the day – electricity for the computer, heating for him and upgrading the broadband and telephone line.

Of an evening, Craig is constantly reminded of the working day; the papers are literally sat on his living room floor.  He has had to remove some of his hobbies in order to make space for work.  As it takes an effort to move things back and forward, he finds he doesn’t carry out his hobbies as much as he did; sometimes thinking he may as well work in the evenings instead.  He has gone from a health work versus life balance to a working all hours situation and is close to burn out.

With the lack of commute, Craig is sleeping later and missing his exercise regime, rather than still using the morning to stretch his legs before cracking on with work.  The lack of interaction with his colleagues is also affecting his mental health and he cannot wait for the Government guidance to change so he can look to get back into a separate working environment.

The Ugly

We are using the Ugly in the scenario of juggling work life with home life, where that home life then requires you to become a full time teacher to your children to ensure they are home schooled during the school closures.

Do you remember on the news when Professor Robert Kelly was giving a live interview from his home.  Mid way through his child came running in and his wife shortly thereafter to drag the child back out of the room.  Whilst it was funny to the public watching it, it must have been embarrassing for him at the time (now a great look back and laugh scenario).

[Image credits to the BBC]

No doubt this type of situation is a lot of parents nightmare.  He was fortunate to have a separate work space, could you imagine having to share a dining room table to try to work and teach at the same time? Given these are unprecedented times, employers have not had to consider how to help their employees manage this tricky situation.  Given time off for dependents applies to sourcing alternative childcare arrangements, rather than actually carrying out the caring, it is a fine balance between trying to juggle your time in the working day, to using annual leave or agreed unpaid time off.

Love it or hate it?

You decide.

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