By Darren Isaacs and Dónall Breen - 17 December 2020
As 2020 hurtles towards becoming an awkward footnote in the annals of human history, we thought we would look back on our time away from the office (still working, #obv, but not in a way any of us would’ve expected in 2019).
Here are our top five reflections on this year’s highs and lows of working from home during a pandemic (in no particular order)*:
Working from home has, for many of us, not been all doom and gloom. There have been some highs with the lows. Here’s what we have loved the most:
- The commute. Hands down, this has to rank up there as one of the best. We have finally achieved the holy grail of a 10-second commute from our bedroom to our place of work. No more sardine-like train experiences, no more scary people on the night bus after a long day in the office. So easy, in fact, that we wonder how we will cope when we eventually do have to set foot on public transport again, other than just going for a joy ride for the fun of it.
- The attire. How did we ever wear suits and ties and posh shoes? In today’s work, “business casual” means something with a collar from the waist up, and still wearing athletic wear or track suit bottoms and slippers, from the waist down. We doubt we will be able to rock this look when we get back into our City office, but we will enjoy it while we can.
- Home-cooked lunches. Or home-made. Or home-re-heated. Or home-whatever. You get the picture. Proper food, and without the queue.
- Peace. And. Quiet. We are busy lawyers and we normally work in an open plan environment. It’s mostly great, most of the time. But it can get noisy, especially when someone starts reading Daily Mail headlines out loud. So just having to deal with the cat meowing/dog barking every so often when they want a belly rub, is heavenly. [Editorial Note: this article was, clearly, written by two individuals who do not have children].
- A lunch-time snooze. Oh yes. Finally we can see why the Spanish embrace siesta. Even just 15 minutes of resting the eyes can work wonders for the soul. [Editorial Note: see last editorial note].
- Camaraderie. We miss seeing our colleagues (well, most of them!) more directly than just popping up in a little square in the bottom right-hand-corner of our laptop. Just having a normal conversation, without someone freezing mid-sentence like a botex experiment gone horribly wrong. Someone to have a coffee with, IRL (as the trendy people say).
- Cafes. Yes, home-cooked food is great. But the beauty of cafes and choice is that if you don’t like the chef at one place you can move on. At home, if you don’t like the chef (whether that’s yourself or someone else) your options are a little more, well, limited! Complaints are ill-received.
- The commute. A controversial entry on this side of the ledger. Whilst mostly we do not miss the commute at all, for those of us lucky enough to get a seat on a peaceful train/bus, and can enjoy the morning paper or a good book on their phone, trying to replicate the experience at home is just not quite the same.
- Ergonomics. By now, we have all sorted out the basics of our home office ergonomics. But for some of us, the home office is less of a book-lined retreat in the attic, and more of perched-at-the-edge-of-the-kitchen-table aesthetic. Mix in a reluctance to buy a £300 office chair and you have all the ingredients for a very stiff back.
- Interruptions. Other halves, children, and endless Amazon deliveries (just one more set of lounge wear…). Just when you have jumped on that online webinar you are hosting, or started pitching to a potential new client in a video call. Thankfully, we are all in the same boat and people have been very accommodating! In fact, showing your child/cat/dog to the audience has become our go-to ice breaker in many situations.
* Please note that in penning this we have tried to keep the mood relatively light. We know that working from home, the pandemic, and all that has gone along with it has been a very difficult time for many people, and we are certainly not trying to gloss over that.
If you would like to read our Covid diaries starting from day 1 please click here.