Staff Corner: Michelle's little remote hamlet
Current location: Rural Dublin, Ireland
I am a creature of habit. I like my routines, and if they’re altered in any significant way, I can end up wearing my grumpy pants for the day. Since June last year I swam every, single morning before going into the office for work. Every morning bar one, and that was due to the roads being icy, so I left later and got to work just on time. And I was grumpy for it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really have a problem with change, but I need to stick to a routine in order to adapt to that change, and working from home is no different.
After our quick move from office to home just before St. Patrick’s Day, I quickly established an altered routine: up early, walk the dog, swim, be at my desk by 9, walk the dog after work and then make dinner. That changed quickly once the pool and gym closed, so I replaced my swim with a run. That changed quickly as well, as I took too long of a run in my five fingers one Sunday and strained a muscle in my foot, so I replaced that with a walk. That changed quickly as well, as we’re now restricted to travelling no further than 2km from our houses for physical exercise. But now, now I’ve found my rhythm, and it’s going well. Routine is good.
Don't get too adventurous with your exercise routines; remember that health care facilities are overwhelmed right now.
I never really saw myself as an overly social person, and would tend to identify as an introvert. Two years ago I took myself entirely out of my comfort zone and walked the French Route of the Camino de Santiago in the dead of winter. While that could be an entire blog series in itself, one of my biggest anxieties was meeting people and being able to interact with them. What would I talk about? Would I make friends? What if no one wanted to talk to me? A week into the walk none of the friends I made believed me that I was an introvert. By the end of it I nearly didn’t believe it myself. And now, working from home every day and daytime socialisation only includes seeing my pets, the cows and the odd neighbour on my walk, I definitely don’t believe it. I miss seeing humans.
Anyone who works from home regularly will know that there’s a big difference between being in the office with people and chatting to them through a screen (so many screens!), but we try. 9:00 AM morning meeting sees those of us in-country having a chat with our hot beverages of choice, catching up on life rather than work, and then setting the pace for the day. Some days I also take 15 minutes during lunch to have a cuppa with a former colleague via WhatsApp while we work through IT issues and talk about gardening. Other days I can be so deep in the back-end of the website, or elbow deep in marketing materials, that I might have no more screen time with my colleagues for the rest of the day. On these days, by the time the dog is walked, dinner is made and my partner comes home, I could be nearly bursting with all of the chats that were never had, and he has to hear me ramble on and on about absolutely nothing, just to get all of the unmade sounds out of my lungs. I miss the chats and human interaction. Indeed, I am a social person after all.
Meet Meške, the neediest co-worker ever!
There is also a stark difference between work environments. While my crisp IKEA work desk has been swapped for a hearty old writing desk, my tech setup is similar, so in that way I feel like I’m at work. It’s good for the routine. I have a window overlooking my garden, which I must admit is a bit nicer than an alleyway in Naas. Distractions are different here as well. Instead of town traffic and sounds of people from the streets, there are tractors and cows. Rather than work and life chats from coworkers, I have a very vocal cat and dog to make all of the noise during the most inappropriate of times (think web call with a potential host company and the ensuing drama of a bird landing on the window – all howls on deck, lads!). It’s not bad, just different.
We are humans and we adapt. We find our grooves and our routines and we carry on, keeping calm, rolling up our sleeves and all that jazz. We stay home because we have to, because it’s the right thing to do. And by doing so, we are ensuring that we will still be around to be social at the end of all of this, so there will still be humans to have a cuppa with in person when all of this is over.