Working from home: dream scenario or nightmare?

Written on 6 April, 2020

A leisurely wake-up, a delicious breakfast and no traffic to deal with, sounds perfect? But what about missing out on face-to-face communication with colleagues (many of whom are also friends), juggling being a parent and working, and trying to stay motivated whilst still in your pyjamas! If you can identify with these thoughts, then welcome to the ‘working from home’ club!

With the current lockdown in place, most of us have had weeks of being confined at home, desperately trying to find the balance between personal and professional time. Here at Surrey Translation Bureau (STB) all staff members, apart from one, are working from home and it’s fascinating to hear how everyone is coping. I asked some of my colleagues to talk about the challenges and perks of working from home and share tips on making the most of the situation.

Jessica Truelsen, our Project Management Team Leader, had some great tips to survive the period:

  • • If you and your significant other(s) are getting on each other’s nerves, blame everything on ‘Sharon’ to avoid bickering all the time – “Sharon forgot to put her mugs in the dishwasher again… I must have a word with her.”
  • • Try and work somewhere with an outdoor view.
  • • Remember that just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you have to do all the housework as well as your job. That wouldn’t happen normally while you’re at the office.

She also highlighted some challenges that come with the luxury of working in your own space:

  • • All. The. Snacks.
  • • Distractions from those who aren’t working, but are still at home
  • • Cabin fever
  • • More snacks

I don’t think I’m the only one who can relate to the first and last challenges in Jessica’s list!

But some of us in the office also have another ball to juggle. I have two children (7 and 2) at home, and with a fulltime job, my work day is now even longer despite not having to commute. I have to take more breaks to feed the kids, to change nappies, for naptimes (the kids ­– not me), for “Mummy, I’m bored!” times and the “I just need a break” moments.

However, I know I am not the only one struggling. As another STB mum shared, “The isolation period didn’t start so well, but you take each day as it comes, adapting until you start to find a suitable routine that fits in with yourself and your child(ren). Speaking to colleagues and sharing ideas has also helped as we are in the same boat, so trying different methods is good.” 

But there are some perks…

“Although I’m missing the company of my colleagues, I’m personally finding that I have more energy and am therefore more productive, particularly in the mornings. Since I don’t have to get up at 6am for the commute anymore, I can take my time getting ready, enjoy a proper breakfast and hang out with my cats for a bit before I sit down at my desk to start work. I’ve also put a bunch of flowers on my desk to brighten up my working space – things like this help me to stay positive,” says Amey Higgon, Senior Project Manager at STB.

A black cat sitting on a desk
Amey’s desk at home

What has also helped is the company’s approach to the situation. We have all been allowed to take our work PCs, keyboards and even our comfy chairs from the office home to make sure that we are properly equipped! For those with children, we’ve also been granted flexible working hours to accommodate parenting and home schooling duties. These measures mean that we are still able to work to the best of our ability, despite the disruptions we’re facing.

However for some, like our Managing Director, George Cooke, working from the office is still required. Here’s what he has to say: “A bit like John Tracy on Thunderbird 5 or Kirk when the rest of the crew have evacuated off the Enterprise, I’m here in the office on my own (literally the whole building is empty), manning the phones and solving any basic IT problems for the remote team like a power cut to the server, and listening out for any important deliveries or faxes. If I was at home then I’d have my wife, kids and dogs for company but working alone, I recommend a good radio station like BBC Surrey, all whilst looking forward to seeing everyone again.”

We would love to hear about your experience working from home, the office or where ever you may be in the current environment. Please send me your thoughts and tips to marketing@stb.twsdev1.com and they may feature on our website and social media channels.

By Marya Jabeen