It’s now been over two months since the UK was put into lockdown, so how have we been coping?
In that time, many of us have had to adapt to drastically different working environments – kitchen tables converted into desks, TVs repurposed as second monitors and stacks of books dutifully propped up under laptops to improve less-than-flattering camera angles for conference calls.
Yet while many of us have accepted that our makeshift home workstations are the ‘new normal’ for the time being, it’s hard not to reflect on what we miss from working in an office.
From impromptu social get-togethers over a cup of coffee, to sitting at chairs with actual lumbar support, there are lots of small things that we can struggle to authentically replicate even in the best home working setups.
We spoke to five of our hard-working home-based Hub contributors to find out what they miss most from working in an office – and one who has just returned:
Getting hot under the collar
"There’s nothing like the initial warmth of early summer to remind you how much you miss air conditioning!
Opening the window in the room where I work doesn’t do the trick either as I can hear the neighbours in the garden and it can become too noisy to concentrate.
I never thought I’d miss the office squabbles over the thermostat, but here we are!"
Achieving work/life balance
"I do like not having to commute every day, but without that natural break in the day, it can be hard to draw a line between work and home time – especially when your office is also your living room.
I’ve got a young family though so I have helped address this by shutting my computer down at the same time every day and making sure I do some exercise before enjoying my evening."
A dedicated desk
"My ‘desk’ at home also operates as a place to eat, which means I spend a good portion of my day ferrying equipment back and forth from the table.
I absolutely miss having a dedicated space for my work laptop and equipment that isn’t in constant danger of having a cup of tea dropped on it, or needs moving so we can get ready for dinner."
That ‘watercooler moment’
"Skype and Zoom calls are a great way to carry out face-to-face interaction, but being honest, nothing can truly replace catching up with someone in person.
There’s something about conference calls that lacks spontaneity. Some of my best ideas come from bumping into someone in the kitchen and chatting over an issue while making a coffee, or just walking over to somebody’s desk to ask a question."
Reliable internet connection
"I’ll not miss having to jostle for bandwidth with my family playing online games or watching shows on Netflix.
In this remote environment, I’m spending a lot more time on conference calls and other internet-dependent tasks, which has exposed just how poor my broadband connection is. It’s the sort of thing you take for granted in the office!"
A sense of purpose
"Having just come back to working (from home) after being furloughed for 7 weeks has given me a somewhat different perspective.
Spending so long without being able to focus on the work and campaigns we had been planning has been frustrating to say the least.
It has also been hard to find a routine that doesn’t involve work. Now I’m back, it is easier to see the key things that need to be focused on."