Working from Home

May 11, 2020

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 😉

Spread the love

9 Mindsets of my Favourite Difference Makers

TDi Senior Consultant Isaac Jeffries shares the philosophies and habits that are the hallmarks of his favourite difference-makers.

This is a concrete list of practices and mindsets for working in community, and maintaining connection to people without burning out or burning others.

Bilum: The Power of Story to Drive Inclusive Economic Growth

by Annie Smits, TDi CEO   In May this year we attended the first official public screening of The Bilum Story, hosted by the AUS-PNG Network at The Lowy Institute in Sydney. Before the screening, I introduced the film to a crowded room, by bringing to the fore a...

Why We Need More Coaches and Fewer ‘Experts’ in International Development

By Kate Wilson, TDi Associate   An intuitive mindset coach and mentor, Kate's insight and expertise is so valuable to our team – we hope it will be for you too. This post was originally published on Kate's website, Resources Reimagined and explores the vital role...

Reconciliation Week 2022: Wrestling with our role in the Indigenous Business Sector

Anna Moegerlein, Deputy CEO, TDi In light of National Reconciliation Week, TDi’s Deputy CEO Anna shares some of the unfolding story around our work in the Indigenous Business sector: What are the challenges we are wrestling with as an organisation, what are our...

Introducing: Accelerate with IBA 2022 Cohort

Our 'Accelerate with IBA' Showcase on April 7 was a great success. It's been an incredible six-month journey as we partnered with Indigenous Business Australia once again to equip a new cohort of business owners to grow, learn new skills, and explore their social...

Meeting Uncertainty and Crisis with Curiosity

Anthea Smits, TDi CEO   I’m going to be honest; I had a rough start to 2022.   We endured a bout of coronavirus in January, followed by a series of personal crises. Each of these would have been manageable on their own, but one after the other, at a time when...

5 Minutes with Difference Maker Tammy: Ethical Innovation in First Nations Fashion

The challenges of ethical production in the fashion industry are many, but they lead to innovation and creative problem solving. We sat down with Difference Maker Tammy Saville and discussed the joys and challenges of starting her own children’s label, and how the IBA Accelerator is providing practical assistance in helping her meet her social impact goals. 

Mindset in Entrepreneurship

Anna Moegerlein, Deputy CEO TDi I’ve been at TDi for almost six years, and in that time I’ve worked with about 120 entrepreneurs. The one thing I’ve seen, over and over, is that we all get tripped up by our own mindsets. Our mindset has a big impact on our success in...

Meet Difference Maker, Ruth

Ruth has worked closely with us on several projects including the Laikim Sister program, as well as our ongoing work with bilum.

Holiday Recommendations – 21/22

Looking for some reading, listening or watching recommendations for the holiday season?Throughout the year, in our Newsletter, we have shared various recommendations for reading, listening and watching. We share some of these below that you might like to enjoy over...