There are some real bonuses to working from home, and I know I am lucky to be able to. I can get washing done, I am in for deliveries, I am around for the kids if they need me, I can attend daytime meetings at school, go for coffee or the odd cheeky lunch with friends, I can pop to the shop if I need to and pesky things like doctors appointments are easy to slot in. Its all good.
I break my week up by going into the office at least once a week and it’s nice to have company (even in the form of two belchy, sweary, sometimes grumpy, men) and chat about the lovely customers and the lovely emails that I get from them. We shout at the radio together (Jeremy Vine, we’re talking about you here) and try and answer the questions on Pop Master. It’s quite nice, especially as it’s not every day. I wouldn’t want to do it every day. I quite like my own company and don’t have any problem being on my own.
But, there are some real downsides. I haven’t been in to the office at all this week for one reason or another (T was off on study leave on Monday and no-one was going in today – my other scheduled day) and so the week has really dragged. The mains reasons for this are:-
Food – the biggest issue I have is food. I don’t raid the cupboards (well, I do sometimes but only on REALLY bad days) but I do find it hard to eat properly. I have breakfast fairly early with the kids or wait until I get back from dropping them off (another perk (?) to working flexible hours). Breakfast is fine. Lunch on the other hand is weird. I don’t see the point in making myself anything proper – it seems too much effort just for me. Occasionally I will have poached egg on toast or something like that, but rarely and I tend to just graze on random stuff: a piece of toast here, a banana and yogurt there, some oatcakes, some nuts, the list goes on. But I don’t stop and eat a proper lunch and I’m pretty sure I have eaten an entire days’ calories before I pick the kids up. Not good.
Motivation – it’s really hard to stay motivated when you are working from home on your own. Don’t get me wrong, I get the job done. I am conscientious and I take it seriously (as seriously as you can when you are dealing with the general public, who are impatiently waiting for printer ink to plop through their letterbox) and I work hard. But my job is very reactive, so I am only as busy as long as my inbox keeps getting messages in it. I have other stuff that I can do when no-one is complaining but it is called “slow burn” work for a reason – it’s boring and slow and just like the dying embers of a fire it is quite yawn-inducing. I find it hard to get myself into gear and get on with it. And when I do I generally end up with a headache or my eyes start feeling scratchy and tired. I start yawning (a lot) and want to go to sleep. Not good.
Company – some days I don’t speak to another person between taking the kids to school and picking them up again. Shouting at the radio doesn’t count (I’m talking about you again Jeremy Vine). Sometimes I can be lucky and the postie will knock the door with a package (normally for T – some freebie or other that he has been given to review) and we chat for a minute. Ok, she says “morning”, I comment on the weather (so British at times I want to scream) and we say “bye”. Not really chatting but it can be the highlight of my day. I sometimes get calls from customers, but they are generally moaning so not exactly a pleasure. I am quite happy with the radio on or music on Spotify but it can be a bit sad not to be able to turn to someone and comment on something that has been discussed or something on the news. Like yesterday, for example, when I heard the news of the attack in Westminster (*), I was horrified but my little yelp of “oh no!” went unheard. A bit like the old conundrum of the tree falling in the forest, if there is no-one to hear me do I make a noise? The biggest issue that this void of company all day causes is the irritation I then feel when someone comes in (K) or the kids come home from school. I have been alone all day, then suddenly (not really suddenly, they come home at the same time every day) I have people making noise, talking, expecting a response. Some days I embrace it, thankful to finally have someone to talk to; other days I can’t bear it, I’ve got so used to being alone. I know my mum will read this and think she needs to call me to cheer me up – she doesn’t, I will be grumpy and snappy and make her wish she hadn’t called. Not good.
So, after 3 days at home alone, and not being needed in the office today, I decided I had to get out. The weather has been very hit and miss so I didn’t want to risk a walk. Luckily, I had an excuse to go ‘out out’ as I had some stuff to return to a shop, birthday cards to buy and T needs cakes for school tomorrow, so I nipped out to a local shopping centre to get it all done in one go. While I was out, I walked past the cafe in M&S. And walked back in and had lunch. On my own. I NEVER eat out in public alone. Ever. I don’t know why, I just don’t. It’s like going to the cinema alone – I just don’t ever think of doing it. Anyway, I ordered a toasted sandwich and a pot of green tea, and I sat on my own people watching. I didn’t get my phone out for company or try and strike up a conversation with the older lady next to me. I just sat and ate my sandwich, drank my tea and did nothing. It was very nice. It has broken the day up and I don’t feel quite so grumpy. I don’t think it will be a regular thing (seems extreme to get in the car and drive 10 miles to get lunch) but I won’t be averse to the idea should the opportunity arise.
* Horrific events and dreadful that I feel like we have almost been waiting for something like this to occur after the incidents in other parts of Europe. I am in awe of the bravery of the people who put their lives at risk to keep us safe and thankful that we have such fantastic emergency services that deal with all this stuff, and of the kindness of strangers who wanted to help those injured. We didn’t really talk about it as a family last night as it was one of those evenings where we were all doing other stuff, but I know the kids are aware of what happened. I suspect that, a bit like when I was a kid and heard of IRA attacks, they don’t really get the enormity of these events. But, this is the world we continue to live in and we just have to hope that the message they get from all of these horrific events is that there are far more good people in the world than bad and that we all have to look out for each other.