WFH what a way to make a living

What better way to start this blog than with a Dolly Parton song?

I thought I’d reflect a little on what it’s like to be in a new job for 6 weeks then work from home [WFH] in lock-down.

This is my working from home set up.


I started working for an academic publisher at the start of February. I was in my job around a month and half then we all began working from home. I’m really lucky that my employer was already set up for flexible working. When I started work in Publishing I was given my own laptop on my first day. This made it so much easier for going to meetings in our different buildings, moving around to work in different offices and also being able to work from home. My company definitely promotes this flexible attitude and both my line manager (who I work with on journals) and my Publisher (who I work with on books) are both based down south full time so we already had to use Teams meetings a lot.

Now we have all our meetings via Teams, I have a catch up with my line manager once a week, I have a group check in once a week, team meetings, I have a chat group with other publishing assistants, I have a Books chat, all sorts really – as normal – just online.

I work on health and social care journals so as you can imagine it’s been busy! People wanting to research, not having time to research, having to put research on hold, practitioners working for the NHS, putting out Calls for Papers, other things, lots of other things having to take a backseat because of COVID-19, it’s been great to work with so many amazing people in my own team and our editorial boards and editors and ensuring we can help as much as possible in terms of getting content moving and finding appropriate peer reviewers and addressing the issues facing us at present.

I’ve attended a couple of Zoom Editorial Board meetings for our different journals where we’ve discussed reports, things like usage and downloads, future plans, special issues and calls for papers. I sometimes minute these and it’s been great to see the faces of some of the people I usually just email and never see in person.

We also have a great People team where I work who have been putting challenges for us on Teams. We’ve got like an “Olympics” challenge posted every week, which can be something as simple as what 3 items would you take to a desert island to share a photo of your most treasured item.

All of this has made the process of working from home full time much easier, there’s not been that many technical issues, we’ve got a great IT team (that time where I accidentally deleted the work drive from my laptop – that was embarrassing!), there’s been “social” stuff we can take part in if we want to. The company have definitely made a lot of effort to keep us all connected and Teams has really helped with this to be able to “chat”, ask quick questions, have video calls, share documents, etc.

What did I buy to get myself set up from home?

I think we were told on the 16th/17th March that we’d start working from home. As soon as I heard I drove to the nearest PC World and bought myself a monitor. It was about £93 quid with some money knocked off cos it was the cheapest one left on display. I use a lot and I mean A LOT of spreadsheets so a laptop wasn’t going to cut it.

My work have allowed people to pick up certain things from the office, but I thought rather than waiting and becoming frustrated I’d get the monitor and I know myself and my partner will still use it in the future.

I also had to buy another HDMI cable, I already had a cordless mouse, I recently bought a rechargeable cordless keyboard and my spine is loving me for it. Definitely more expensive than a regular key board , but I don’t have to waste batteries now (and no extra cables)! And I, annoyingly, had to buy one of those signal booster things as my Wifi didn’t quite make it up to the attic.

I think I’ve again been pretty lucky and privileged that I’ve been able to buy these things, I’ve probably spent around £150 on equipment, but I also already had things like a laptop stand, cordless mouse and my desk, which had made everything easier and more comfortable working from home. I mean you maybe don’t need this much stuff, but it’s made me feel better – mind and body and all that.

What new things have I noticed about myself in lock-down?

Well, maybe ashamedly, I actually don’t mind it that much. I’ve always been a bit of an introvert and definitely need my down time/alone time. I’ve quite liked working from home. I can get more sleep, which is definitely needed right now as my ability to get enough sleep is rubbish, I don’t do my 40 min – hour commute to my office and back, I’ve saved £160 quid on petrol, I’m not buying anything like snacks or coffees, all in all it’s not too bad for me (and I know this isn’t the case for everyone – I don’t have kids, me and my partner are both still in work, both able bodied with no serious health issues, still being paid, we rent a pretty decent house – lots of these things are privileges).

I think it took us a bit of time for me and my partner to get into a routine. His job is very different from mine and he’s had to change quite a lot to adapt to working at home – whereas my job has pretty much stayed the same. Telling him when I have meetings, when I’m busy etc. the fact that sometimes I have to start earlier or work later – that all took a bit of time to figure out!

One of the hardest things for me personally has been not being able to get real alone time. I’ve very happy I’m WFH in lock-down with my partner, but he’s known for a long time there’s days, evenings, weekends where I just need my own space… but since neither of us can go anywhere that’s been hard. Not as hard as I maybe thought, but just that inability to get away.

All in all though, like in the grand scheme of things, I’ve thankfully been okay and felt okay for the most part. And I’m not sure if this is good or bad really, but we’ve had lots of work to do in publishing, I always always have something to do, and I’m not sure how well I would have coped if I had weeks and weeks of no real structure or work.

I know not all of my friends have been able to adopt any pets recently since we’re all at home, but having a cat around (who we adopted in September last year) has most definitely been something I’ve needed. Having him around to care for and look after has been nice. He sleeps on the attic bed while I work, we’ve made silly games for him and it’s just been nice to have a furry friend around. I definitely think pets improve your mental health. I mean there are so many things in the world I want to change: better pay for nurses and care staff, better gov investment in our health and safety, appropriate sick pay, better work rights and contracts… but also landlords should just let us have pets please. I know so many people who would be happier with a pet.



What do I miss?

I do miss seeing the other Publishing Assistants I work with and everyone at the company. I also think we’ve all been really busy, we launched a new website, we’re all getting Calls for Papers out about COVID-19, keeping to book publishing schedules – so we haven’t had loads of time to chat or make cups of tea together like we used to. My team are a diverse bunch with different responsibilities, kids, everything, so again everyone’s got their own lives to sort alongside working full time jobs.

I miss my friends – I’m sure all of us do. I miss, linked to the last section, just going out on my own and doing my own thing. It probably sounds really silly, but I’ve been too scared to go out alone without my partner. I have asthma so he’s been doing the shopping and stuff, but I just worry that if I go out without him what if I pick something up and bring it home? Even from a walk…very paranoid I know, but I do worry about it.

I miss going to gigs, not work related I know, and I actually thought I’d miss them more. It’s more that I know I haven’t had that amazing feeling of seeing a live band, watching everyone play their instruments, sing, dance, in a long time now. Also I’m really bad at joining live stuff online. I spend so much of my time on my computer for work I’ve not kept up with fun things. Oh and also as soon as I see something’s on Instagram live I’m just kinda like nope. I thought I’d be on social media way more, but actually I get really bored of it now so, maybe for the best, I don’t really do as much social media as I used to.

Another non-work thing I know people are missing their hair cuts! Luckily me and my partner have been on and off cutting my hair for the past few years and he’s been cutting his own hair for forever. Honestly wish I’d done this sooner. What a money saver! I mean I’m saving money generally since I’m buying hardly anything at all. The thing I do miss though is getting my hair coloured. Maybe in the future I’ll treat myself to some orange or peach locks!

Oh okay final thing I miss then I’ll shut up.. BAKERIES! I mean personally the rest of Europe trounces us when it comes to baked goods, but I miss croissants, cakes not made by my own hands and not bought from a supermarket, cannolis! … okay I’ll stop here and keep dreaming of cakes.

Tips?

Well I wanna say I’m not gonna give you any tips! Not that I don’t want to, but I’ve seen so many posts of “do this” and “do that” and “whatever you do don’t do this!” Have I worked in my pjs all day? Yes. Usually on a Friday. Sometimes I’ll shower at lunch time. If I don’t have any meetings I go easy on myself. Have I had hard days where I’ve crawled into our spare bed in the attic for a break? Yes! Have I fallen asleep on my lunch on the couch downstairs? Sadly, yes. I am really glad I live with my partner cos I could have slept that whole day away. Have I also gotten up early to spend some time on my make up or hair? Or put on a “fancy” outfit? Yes I have. I guess most importantly at this time listen to your body as much as you can, what you need to eat, when you need to sleep – you know what’s bad for you, but don’t let people guilt trip you into telling you to wear “proper” clothes if you’re just as happy and productive or whatever in your pjs. You do you.

Hope everyone’s doing okay? And thanks for reading this blog post. What are you doing WFH? How’s it going? What have you found works for you?

Shout outs to what’s on my desk!

Centre Print above my laptop by heartofheartszines

Pen pot given to me by my friend Shauni from Aroj.

A load of prints/cards by North or Nowt

A lovely custom mini knit coffee cup by my friend Fosterlots_Knits. Who mainly whips up pairs of socks, hats and also mends knits too!

Another bonus working from home is using and being at my lovely desk with all this art around!

2 thoughts on “WFH what a way to make a living

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