We knew it was coming. It had been weeks in the planning. Sam has spent last weekend creating various Skype groups (including one for “General Chit Chat”) to ensure all eventualities were covered. On Monday, we had an all-staff meeting to discuss how it was going to work. From Tuesday we would be working from home.
The word had been overused, but it’s true – these are unprecedented times – but we would get through it together. Working as one, albeit from home.
At the meeting, Sam went to great lengths to talk about looking after our mental health when working from home – part of the reason why we have the “Chit Chat” group. For some in the office, it’ll be their first experience of working from home, working in isolation. Some, like me, are old hands at it. I come from work-based learning and, as an assessor and IQA, I’d been used to working from home. But things have changed since then.
When I last worked from home, it was just me, the other half and the dog. I had a desk in the living room. I planned my day around dog walks and cooking tea, quite often doing extra work in the evenings if there was nothing decent on TV. 6 years down the line, the desk is long gone. Since having my son, I’ve been office based – the space where the desk was, replaced with shelves for storing toys and games. The other half is now my husband and we have a second dog – life has moved on.
Yet here I am, like many of you, suddenly now working from home. And it’s more difficult than I thought it would be.
Now I realise I’m in a very strong position – I’m in a job that allows me to work from home and, as my husband and I are both key workers, we could still send our son to school but, after consulting him, we’ve all agreed he’ll stay at home with me while I’m home working. EDLounge has also allowed me to work flexi, meaning I can break up my day so I can spend time with him throughout the day and I’m thankful for this for many reasons – I get to spend more time with him, but I also get to take breaks.
In my 2 1/2 years at EDLounge, I thought I’d got used to “leaving work behind” when I clock off – due to safeguarding, we all work from the office. But now my home is the office, old habits die hard. I’ve always hated leaving a job half-finished – just another half an hour, and I’ll have it done. Then I’d something else while I’m still online, which I’d finish off while tea was cooking – usually going back on in an evening to make some more headway. Now, I have other priorities.
My desk is now on the breakfast bar, not that we ever use it for such – it came with the house. Yet, each evening, I spend 10 minutes packing my work equipment away knowing full well that it’ll take me another ten minutes to set it all up again in the morning. Why? I need that separation – the empty breakfast bar tells me work is done for today. Back to family life. My sister does the same – her kitchen table is now her desk. At the end of her working day, she throws a blanket over it – out of sight, out of mind.
We never switch off – I’m a teacher, she works in health and social care.
Written by Amanda Appleby, Senior Online Teacher at EDLounge Group Ltd. For more information on EDLounge, and how you can use the system to work from home, click here.
For tips on how to stay on top of your mental health when working from home, click here.