Working from Home

By Shannon Gibbons

I have added a new acronym to my vocabulary, and I’m fairly certain that smart phones all over the globe have added this new acronym to their dictionaries – WFH. Also known as Work From Home. As workplaces have quickly adapted in the face of COVID-19, and because us Aussies do like to shorten our words as much as possible, WFH has quickly become well recognised.
I have been working from home a few days a week for some time now. I live quite a distance for our office so having a few days where I don’t have the travel time to add into my day has been great for a number of reasons. It’s one thing to make the choice to work from home, but it’s another to be forced to for reasons beyond your control. Even the seasoned work from homers are feeling the pinch in this time of forced isolation – I am no exception!! Oh, and throw in supervision of remote learning for your children and it’s even more challenging – here’s my reflections on working from home during this time.

 

What’s been the hardest adjustment?

Working from home on my own is one thing – I usually find it to be really productive and I get energised by the increase in productivity. Working from home with a primary school aged child is a challenge that’s seen my normal routines thrown out the window. Here in Australia at this time of COVID-19, if you work from home then you are seen to be able to supervise students’ remote learning. My husband works in an essential service so the majority of the learning has been up to me. And let’s face it, a six-year-old isn’t great on independent learning! I’ve had to block out time in my day where I’m not available for meetings or calls, so that I can focus on giving my child the attention needed to get some level of work done. I am fortunate that TDi is an understanding and agile workplace, so this hasn’t been a problem at all.

What’s been the most helpful thing you’ve done/adopted?

Within a short period of time I realised that, in order to preserve my sanity and ensure that my child’s emotional wellbeing was also intact, I just had to go with the flow! Some days that is a lot easier than others but mostly it’s working. I also had to yell for help when I was drowning in all of the responsibility. Often, we mother’s wear martyrdom like a badge of honour, but I am working hard to ensure that I don’t because it’s not a badge that I want to wear. Over the years I have learnt that the hard way, particularly when my children were babies. My husband has taken a day a week off to allow me a full day of focussed work and he takes over the school supervision duties. I have also made sure that I get out once on the weekend on my own – no child in tow, just some quality alone time (just a walk is enough) to gather my thoughts and breath for a moment without being interrupted for more food, drink or ‘let’s play hide and seek’ requests!
When I first started working from home some years ago, I always felt that I couldn’t start my day unless the house was immaculate! I had to remind myself that I wasn’t getting paid to clean and sort my own house, and if I waited for it to be spotless I wouldn’t get any paid work done. I also got into a good routine of a start time, lunch time and end time. If my kitchen bench is covered in dishes when I am due to start work, bad luck! I can clean them away when I take a break between tasks or when I have lunch.
I also find that getting up, moving around, getting the stick-vac or broom out of the cupboard and doing some of those mundane chores when I needed to do some thinking on something for work was really helpful – it also meant that I was able to multi-task between work and home jobs. I remember the first time I gave myself ‘permission’ to do this – I was writing a really important document and I had been staring at my computer screen for way too long with very minimal results. I decided to do the vacuuming, the whole time mulling over the document in my head. I sat down to work post-vacuuming and the words just spilled onto the screen. Since then it has been my go-to thinking activity and it’s been pretty reliable ever since.

What do you love and dislike about WFH?

I love not having to travel into the city and back for 3+ hours a few times during the week! Whilst I use the travel time productively, I do have to get up pretty early to rush about to get ready and sometimes get the children organised as well. It’s really nice to just roll out of bed at a more ‘normal’ hour and get stuck into work, plus being able to be in my kitchen to prepare dinner at a decent time is a bonus. Whilst some days I do make a real effort with my appearance, I can also wear more casual gear – I don’t just wear my trackies because I do find that my mindset becomes a bit more casual to go with the dress style! But I don’t suit-up either!
I can find that when you are in an office environment you are much more prone to getting interrupted mid-task. If you are working from home on your own or without young children, you can find less of these unplanned interruptions, therefore increase in focussed work time.
I am an extrovert, so I really miss seeing people IRL (in real life, another acronym that I’m sure is now recognised by smartphone dictionaries). Modern technology with video conference calling is excellent. Here at TDi I believe that we’ve done an excellent job of keeping connected as a team, so I don’t feel that we could’ve done better on that front. It’s just that for me, nothing replaces the real, face-to-face interaction with people you genuinely love being around – and I really do like and respect everyone I work with!!

What would you tell others?

Go easy on yourself in this time. If you’re not used to WFH, it does take some time to find your rhythm and groove – you might not even find that until we’re all told that we’re fine to go back to our offices, and that’s ok. WFH definitely isn’t for everyone, but just do the best you can in the meantime. Find ways to keep your mental health on track – take regular breaks, have regular and set start and finish times so that you don’t find yourself unable to clock off (which can be a trap when you are WFH).

If you are like me and you have young ones at home that you need to supervise with their remote learning – you are doing an amazing job! Hang in there, you are not alone and it’s ok to fall apart some days when it all gets overwhelming…just remember to take deep breaths, you don’t have to be the teacher and have all the answers – and if you have to give it a miss some days just because (for your sanity for example) then do it!!! Did I mention that I used to be a teacher? No? I was pre-TDi days so I give you permission to skip school some days 😉

Customer Empathy Interviewing

When was the last time you asked your customers what they thought? We use Customer Empathy Interviews to help businesses deeply understand their customers and design competitive products and services. It’s also been one of our top coaching tips for business owners...

Pivoting your business model during a crisis

A conversation with Geert from FarmWallGeert Hendrix founded FarmWall in 2016. Farmwall is an agrifood-tech startup that designs urban farming technology and experiences to enhance fresh produce accessibility in the city. In our constantly developing world, the need...

Business During COVID-19: In perspective

At TDi, we believe in the significance and power of small business’ and social enterprise’s contribution to life and the economy. It is this belief that drives us to support them now more than ever.

Working from Home

It’s one thing to make the choice to work from home, but it’s another to be forced to for reasons beyond your control. Even the seasoned work from homers are feeling the pinch in this time of forced isolation – I am no exception!! Oh, and throw in supervision of remote learning for your children and it’s even more challenging.

Surviving the campsite in the COVID-19 crisis

Two weeks ago, I shared with the team an analogy of a campsite. I reflected that our house has burnt down and we are struggling to reconcile the shock and the grief of all that is happening. I shared with them that I’ve been thinking that we need to set up camp, for now while we figure out how to reinvent for the new normal. We have a temporary place of residence and it’s not what we would have chosen but we can create from it. So, for the past two weeks, we have been focused on getting the campsite set up, trying to work out where stuff goes, who’s sleeping where and how to trade out of a tent.

COVID-19 Support Options Available for Your Business

We have compiled a comprehensive list of support available to Social Entrepreneurs, Not-for-Profits and SMEs in Australia.

Navigating upheaval: our last 7 days

Like most small business and NFPs we only just began to comprehend the wholescale impact of the Coronavirus on our business and the Australian economy last week. Within 7 days it hit us hard.

Koongarra cultural tourism: creating experiences and opportunities in Kakadu National Park

Meet Difference Maker James Morgan and cultural tourism entrepreneur. James was a participant of our most recent Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) Accelerator Program. “I feel privileged to have an education, but I had to move away. I want to create more...

The hidden value of creative industries: bringing life to many economies: International Women’s Day 2020

It fascinated us that creative industries aren’t included in Papua New Guinea’s GDP, in fact there is very little data to understand the economic impact of creative industries in PNG. This is staggering considering that creative industries represent $US2.250 Billion in the global economy (World Economic Forum, 2015). This includes all creative industries including visual arts, media, TV, music etc. Other research suggests Handicrafts contributes around US$32 Billion to the global economy (The Aspen Institute Artisan Alliance) but this is a difficult figure to nail down when whole economies don’t even count handicrafts in their GDP.

Other interesting facts from the World Economic Forum’s study found that Creative industries are more inclusive employers employing more youth (15-29 years) than any other sector, employ a higher percentage of women compared to other sectors globally and small business makes up a large portion of this sector as well. In the US artists are 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed.

TDi enters a new stage of consciousness and clarity

What is TDi? This is a question we are asked all the time, and have struggled to answer with real clarity. TDi started as a private quest in response to societal problems, long before it became a public conversation which culminated into the entity today we call The...