Jessica’s Guide to Working from Home by Jessica Redland
When I was in my twenties, I worked in Human Resources (HR) for a high street bank, responsible for training graduates and designing/managing assessment centres. I’d created a video to help me train assessors and I needed peace and quiet to create a transcript of it – something I wasn’t going to get in a busy open plan office. I also needed a video player (showing my age here) so it made sense to work from home for a day for the first time ever.
That morning, I had a lie-in because I didn’t need to spend time doing my hair or make-up or physically driving to work. I showered and dressed in a fresh pair of PJs. Rebellious. I had time to eat breakfast. I had time to drink a full cup of tea. Loving it so far.
I remember looking at the clock on my kitchen wall and thinking: If I’m not working productively by 9 o’clock, who’d know? We’re talking 1997/98 here so it was before everyone had a mobile phone and way before social media. I was out of reach. I could watch daytime TV for the first time ever and my manager wouldn’t have a clue. As long as I completed my task for the day, what did it matter what hours I worked?
But my own work ethic wouldn’t let me take the mickey and I parked myself in front of the TV before 9 a.m. and began working.
Half an hour later, I was bored. I lived alone and hadn’t spoken to anyone since leaving work the evening before and was already missing the chatter and buzz of the office. So, I made another cup of tea and wandered round the house. Another burst of work and I was bored again. It was too quiet. Different. Unsettling.
I wasted that day. I put daytime TV on and off several times. I’d heard about a new surreal children’s TV programme called Teletubbies so I watched that in bewilderment, wondering how young children weren’t scared of the baby in the sun. And I faffed and faffed and faffed. Did I get the transcript done? Yes, but I had to stay up until past midnight to finish it! I vowed I’d never work from home again. It had been boring, stressful and lonely.
Fast forward another decade without ever working from home again and I was working for a large manufacturer with a base in York. My role involved a lot of travel to other factories around the country but, when not travelling, I was home-based. This time, it was very different. I had a spare bedroom set up as an office, so I had a workspace. I had a much more demanding job, so I had more than enough work to fill my days. And I was ten years older and more comfortable in my own company than I’d been before. I loved that job and I loved the home-based element so much that, when I lost my job in a restructure and had to return to open-plan office working, I found that too noisy. Different. Unsettling.
I’ve changed jobs a few times since then – some office-based and some home-based roles – but I am now permanently home-based and have been for the past five years. I’m a distance learning HR tutor, spending my days dealing with queries, marking assignments and running learning webinars. I fit my writing around the day job which often means I work on evenings and weekends.
Over the years, I’ve learned quite a lot about home working. It doesn’t suit everyone, and it certainly didn’t suit me when I was in the early stages of my career, but many people don’t have a choice right now. They’re finding themselves in a situation where their new reality is that they have to work from home. As this could go on for several more months, I thought I’d share some tips.
They won’t work for everyone, but this is what works for me and someone unexpectedly working from home might find something of help among them…
We will be sharing Jessica’s tips in Part 2 of her blog.
Jessica’s latest novel Coming Home To Seashell Cottage is available now as an ebook, audiobook and paperback. Her next novel, Finding Love At Hedgehog Hollow is to be published on 2nd July 2020.
Buy and pre-order your copies by clicking on the covers below.