I Work From Home: The Kitchen is my Workspace

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I wouldn’t like to work from home full-time –  but  I do appreciate it has some advantages. 

At this stage I’ve got used to it. I appreciate the balance that working from home can give –  in addition to working from the office.

There was a bit of an adjustment initially in terms of getting all the technology sorted. But that was done quite quickly. 

My wife works at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, so she’s not changed at all. She’s continued to go to work, supporting the theatres in the hospital. 

My son works for BT so he has been spending a lot of time at work. He is out on his van round and so he’s not being doing that much work from home. It means I’ve been fairly much on my own at home. 

During the week, the days when I’m not in the office, the kitchen is very much my workspace. 

As an extrovert I  do like being around other people  and  I think that was a bit of an adjustment for me.

I mainly work in leadership and coaching and  have been doing that virtually, rather  than in a classroom or a one-to-one environment.

It means I’ve had to learn new skills and do things in a slightly different way. But actually, I’ve started to quite get into it.  Given its limitations, I think me and my team are doing a good job in making the most of the virtual technology. 

Working from home there’s obviously the advantage of no commute, but also less interruptions… and just being able to get on with stuff.  I can be more focused to get through the work, and to balance the work and take breaks when I need to take breaks. I can spread things out better over the day…. so yes, there’s ups and down with it.

On the downside, sitting at the kitchen table  all day I have to remember to get up and move around, because I wouldn’t move around as much as I would at work. 

I have to be careful from a health point of view –  because  I have some problems with circulation and need to make sure I keep moving around. It is getting into the habit of doing things the right way, the healthy way, when you are in the home environment.

When I’m working from home I just tend to wear my sweats… and tracky bottoms. I have a shirt on standby in case I need it for a virtual meeting. But generally speaking I wear quite casual clothes.

I’ve been going into work about one day a week for the last few weeks and I quite enjoy getting dressed properly …..putting a suit on and a pair of shoes. It’s nice for a change. 

Working on Zoom and Skype in its own way is quite tiring. I have researched and read quite a bit about it.  When you are in Zoom calls you can see your own face and you  feel you are ‘on show’ and having to perform, and that kind of thing.

When we do the end-to-end calls  you are ‘with’ people – but  still apart. If  I have quite a lot of Zoom meetings or training on Zoom it can be quite exhausting.   It surprised me just how tiring it is. 

Some people have adapted their Zoom backgrounds. I haven’t done anything about it myself. Because I sit in the kitchen basically all they can see is the kitchen clock. I have had the kids walking at the back and on one occasion the cat has walked in front of the camera. But apart from that, no problems.

Luckily, I can use my office chair at home and I tend to work at the kitchen table. Sometimes I go into  the front room so I can  put my leg up on the settee from a circulation point of view. But I prefer to work at the kitchen table. 

I’ve been trying to get out and exercise regularly. At work for example, you generally walk around and speak to people. Throughout the day you are actually moving about a lot more… walking in/ out of the office… always moving about. I feel I am a lot more static and I can feel it in my back… I feel it in my legs.

From that point of  view I make a point of going out for a walk every morning before I start work. I go out  in the evening as well. So I make sure  I get two decent walks a day.

I work Tuesday to Friday – I don’t work Mondays –  so I set up Tuesday morning and leave it all until Friday afternoon and then pack everything away on Friday afternoon. 

There was an idea that I might turn the spare bedroom into an office but it is a lot smaller than the kitchen so I think I would feel  a lot more confined. The thing about the kitchen is that I can get up and move around better than I could upstairs. It’s also much brighter.

With Covid, there’s been a period of adjustment. I’ve gone through that phase of being in denial about it, and thinking it was just going to pass very quickly, to accepting it and getting on with it and learning how to do my job in a slightly different way. 

Now, I have pretty much adjusted to it and am accepting of how things at the moment  – and how things are going to be for a while yet. 

We (my wife,  my son and I)  live in  a semi-detached 3 bed. It’s not a big house, it has average sized rooms with kitchen and conservatory in the back. 

We made more of the time that we’ve got together –  because  we  have been forced to spend time together. I don’t think it’s a bad thing in that respect. I think if anything it has brought us closer together. 

We are doing more sanitation of our hands…. more consciously washing… but I don’t think we have over-reacted too much about ‘things’ coming into the house  – in that way.  

During lockdown we did have a bit of a clear out – but not excessively so, and I’m not very keen on DIY. I’ve done a bit more reading and we watched two box sets  together and listened to more music. I tended to the garden a bit… but nothing out of the ordinary.

Obviously, there are things that we haven’t been able to do during this time. But we managed to work.  Locally, our restrictions have increased, but before that we managed to get on holiday to Greece. 

I would say that we have invested more time staying in touch with people than before lockdown….. phoning people and speaking to people on Zoom and that kind of thing. I probably speak to my mum more than I did… and staying in touch with people as best we can.

Throughout lockdown I did all the shopping for my mum, and my wife did the shopping for her parents. 

My mum found it difficult because she lives on her own, and she’s 85. But she  still gets out every day.

She’s not fearful of Covid at all and is quite reckless really in terms of getting out and about. She sees her friends at a social distance and makes a point of making sure she exercises and tries not to let it interfere too much with her life, as much as she can. But I think the whole thing made my mum a bit miserable. 

My in-laws had to isolate because of their medical issues. When we were in full lockdown I think they found it quite difficult. 

We have lived here since 2002 – 18 years. 

When I first saw the house I really loved it, but since then we have done lots to it… new kitchen, new windows… new bathrooms.. So, quite a bit.

What happens is: my wife D. gives me the impression that I am being consulted… but then she just goes ahead  and does what she was going to do anyway.  My wife has very good taste.  And to be honest… I find it very difficult to get interested in wallpaper and furnishings. 

I like my home – because it’s homely. It kind of looks like it is lived in. Comfort is more important to me than style.

I play the drums in a band. The first two months we couldn’t rehearse because of lockdown. We have adapted the rehearsal room now so we can get together- socially distanced – and still play. 

The band is my creative outlet.

It’s great to get back together and see them once a week and have a bit of a bash on the drum kit.  We tend to wear a mask when we go in and out so it’s not too intrusive. There is  more sanitation of hands when you go in and out that sort of thing but you tend to only touch your own equipment anyway. You are not using anything that belongs to other people.

I bring my own breakables. The base drum and what have you are in situ but they have a kick pedal so you are not touching any surfaces that other people have touched. 

My wife and I do a lot of trips out when we can.  As things have eased up a little bit we managed to get to Cornwall and do a little road trip round there. We go out walking together at the weekend  and visit places. We watched lots of box sets at home. That’s been one of our escapes – watching Netflix.  

I also manage my son’s football team and they play on a Sunday, so that’s been good. That gets me out. 

In lockdown I was getting up at the same time as I would if I was going to work.

D. gets up at 6am so I get up with her. We tend to have a brew together and a bit of breakfast. Then she goes off to work and I go out for a walk for about 45 minutes. Then I come back and set up for the day.  I will get my computer fired up  and start working around 7.45am. I tend to work through to lunchtime. At lunchtime I have a proper break. One of the advantages about being at home is  that you  have to switch your laptop off and switch it back on again because the VPN drops out otherwise.   You actually give yourself a break at lunchtime – which is good.  

I start again and generally work through until about 5.30pm –  because I do 37 hours in 4 days. During the day I get up  at certain times and have a walk around and go out into the garden if the weather is OK.  I  may even have a little  walk at lunchtime if the weather is all right to try and break the day  up.

As a diabetic I am careful about what I snack on. Initially, I probably  paid more visits to the fridge… but I tend to snack on healthy stuff anyway.

We missed seeing people … seeing our friends. Going out to a meal with folks… going round to people’s houses.. missed going away on holiday abroad. We missed going to play with the band for the first couple of months – that was really hard.  Just generally socialising.

That said, we certainly made the most of the “ Eat out To Help Out”. We do like to get out to eat. 

Like most people did –  I felt a bit fed up about having to stay home all the time but I’ve come through that period. My mood is fine but I have had a lot of strange dreams. On some subliminal level it causes some kind of anxiety. I think I had more anxiety dreams in lockdown than before. That’s to do with the uncertainty of the future – rather than  the present. 

The economic impact worries me – in terms of my jobs. I’ve got two sons  – one of whom doesn’t live here. It’s their economic outlook and those aspects that worry me more than anything.

  

It concerns me just how much money the government is having to spend on this – and the knock-on effects. I’ve  got no influence over that, and I don’t irrationally worry about it, but it is a concern for me that the pay-off for this will go on for a long time in the future. 

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Follow Nuala Rooney:

I am a creative professional and award-winning author, currently developing original ethnographic design research. With over 25 years experience in Higher Education my interest lies in exploring distilled thinking and design as lived experience.

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