Since joining the Chrysalis Team, I’ve had the benefit of working from home for at least a couple of days a week – a distant dream in my previous roles!
Of course, I’ve had much ‘mickey-taking’ from family, friends and former colleagues who perceive remote working as wearing pyjamas all day, watching daytime tv and glancing at my lap-top every now and again – well I hate to bust that myth, but the reality is quite different.
Luckily, I’ve always been self-disciplined when it comes to my work, and why would I breach the trust of colleagues? I’m still paid to do a job, it’s only the location that’s different.
But there is quite an art to home-working, and I’m still learning as I go. Here’s what works for me.
My office – I’m lucky enough to have a lovely home office all to myself, so it’s easy to step into work mode. I find keeping the space neat and tidy helps me to focus. Furthermore, whilst I might not apply make-up or have my usual morning workout with my GHD’s, I’m up, showered, dressed, teeth clean and ready to go – no pyjamas or sofa slouching for me! It’s simple really, I need to feel connected to my work if I’m to do a good job.
My self-care – this is what I’m not so good at! In fact, I’m terrible at it! Once I’m working, the time seems to fly by, and it can be ages before I stretch my legs. I’ve taken to setting my phone alarm every two hours to remind myself to move around. A definite work in progress! And I MUST drink more water!!!
My goal-setting – I use my trusty planner throughout the week, and of course those who know me well are aware of my love of lists! So I’m fairly good at keeping myself on track.
My schedule – again this is where everybody assumes that home-working = lie-in…it doesn’t! I get up at the usual time and stick to my usual routine, in fact I’m often at my desk a good hour earlier than being in the office, and that’s just fine. I know I’m far more energetic in the morning, so it makes sense to utilise the time productively!
My distractions – my phone is never far from my side, so I know all too well what a distraction it can be! So I’ve had to really exert some self-discipline here, I leave it switched on in case I’m needed, but I leave my phone in its case – firmly closed! However as it’s genuinely important to keep abreast of social media in my role, I try and build a couple of blocks of time into my day where I can keep up to date with all things Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram related!
My mental health – I’m as happy working alone as I am within a team, so I never feel lonely. Our two cats are always about and I always have the radio on, so I’m never truly alone. For me, it means that time in the office becomes so much more than work – it’s time to reconnect with great people and bounce ideas and discussion points around.
My treat – this final point is an important one, but a treat is always so much nicer when it’s been earned. It maybe a cuppa and a naughty chocolate biscuit, it maybe a couple of quiet chapters of a book, it maybe a call to a friend…whatever it is, it’s my reward for a job well done.
You will be forgiven for thinking this is just another of those smug “check me out, I work from home” stories that are just about everywhere at the moment – but I didn’t write it to rub anyone’s face in it.
I simply want to point out that there IS another way to work, and sitting at my desk for 12+ hours per day, as I did in my previous role was neither productive or healthy. The open plan office I worked from might as well have had bars around it – I was trapped, day after day, a sitting target for an endless flow of people to gravitate towards – most with genuine issues, some with time-wasting on their agenda!
Time after time, colleagues would bypass their own manager, to seek out the attention of the HR Department, paid to listen, paid to fix – but NOT paid to work the extra hours it took to deliver the ‘day job’ in-spite of countless diversions!
I can remember one particular afternoon so clearly, desperate to finish writing a training course, with the clock very much against me, I took myself off to the most secluded office I could find, in fact I ended up in an office within another office, well out of reach, or so I thought…
No sooner than I’d started to write, a colleague appeared in the doorway, exclaiming “what a great place to have a private chat, I just need a quick word.”
And whilst you may have smiled at that image, think of the countless times I heard, “sorry to disturb your lunch, but…”, or the opener guaranteed to sent me into a mini melt-down, “I can see you’re busy, but…”
I love people, that’s why I choose people-based roles, BUT, Im a person too, and need my space just as much as the next colleague. The more it’s denied, the more unproductive I become.
So, nearly five months after starting home-working for the very first time, I love it, I’m happier and far more balanced and I really value being treated like the adult I am!
And best of all, no-one has said, “I can see you’re busy, but…”!
We think Sue must be a ‘Master of the Dark Arts’, as she has hidden depths! Running our office with meticulous planning and capability, Sue is an avid list writer with a keen eye for detail. But don’t be fooled by that organised demeanour, for Sue is as creative as she is efficient! A skilled communicator with a humorous edge, Sue is as passionate about people and their learning and development as she is about becoming the future Mrs Tom Hardy or Mrs Benedict Cumberbatch (either will do!). An interesting career path has taken her from the glamour of working in luxury London hotels to the chilled Distribution Centres of supermarket retail, and whether managing small groups or large teams, people are at the heart of everything Sue does.