The COVID-19 pandemic is having far-reaching implications on many aspects of our lives – including where we work. As offices and other organizations across the country have closed, Alex Kerr has found a way to make remote “work.”
What are some positive outcomes you’ve seen after working from home now for the past few weeks?
Below are some of the positives I've identified so far:
- Family time. My wife (Lizzie) and I have 3-year old identical twin boys (Robin and Ralph). Before the lockdown, I'd only sit and have a meal with my wife and children on the weekends. Now, I'm eating each meal everyday with them. Previously, they'd see so little of me that at the weekends their default was to always ask their mum for a cuddle or if they wanted something, but as each day passes they look to me more and more. I've also been so starved of their attention that they're realising I'll do anything for them!
- How are you? Whilst we've always began our emails and conversations with a "hope you're well" or a "how are you?", I think it's fair to say that we never really gave or expected a sincere response. Now, people are really asking and are genuinely interested in the answer.
- No commute. Living out in the Kent countryside I would spend around 3 hours each day commuting back and forth to London. By the end of the fourth week of lockdown, that adds up to around 60 hours or 2.5 days. I've just triple checked that as it sounds ridiculous. I've gained 2.5 days' worth of time by not commuting to work.
- Food waste. I was seriously guilty of this before COVID (or "B.C." as I now call it). Panic buying in the UK has left us treasuring the food we have, especially fresh fruit and vegetables and we make sure we use everything.
- Supporting local businesses. B.C. we used our local farm shop occasionally but heavily relied on supermarket deliveries. Our farm shop has really stepped up during this time and provides us with boxes of fresh produce without us having to risk trips to the shop. The efforts they're making during this time won't be forgotten and they'll have customers for life.
How has the transition been to working at home? What have you noticed has been harder/easier?
My wife's a doctor and had been tracking the virus for several weeks and could see where we were heading. Fortunately, she prompted me well in advance to invest in my home office setup. This meant the transition was smooth as my home office has everything, I need to perform my work efficiently. I have a dual monitor setup and a good quality laser printer with scanner. Kudos to our IT support team as the remote access has been working perfectly so far and I know they're on hand if I encounter any issues.
The hardest part has been switching off. The temptation is to log-on and check emails etc. before breakfast and to then get stuck into work without properly setting myself up for the day.
Do you have any new 'co-workers' (roommates, partners, children, pets)?
I'm kept company by my wife (Lizzie), our boys (Robin and Ralph), our cat (Bertie) and our chickens (Celine, Whitney, Dusty, Gladys, Shirley and Barbara (Barbara died April 9)).
Tell us about your new office space – what do you like better, or is there anything you miss?
My office space is great. I'm upstairs so the family can make noise downstairs throughout the day and in the evening, I can read the boys their bedtime stories.
Do you have a go-to activity to help you de-stress or relax?
I had been training for the London Marathon but when this was postponed, I took the view that continuing to head out for 1-2 hour training runs wasn't in the spirit of self-isolation. We have a Peloton bike at home, so I've been making sure I get on it everyday to stay active and to provide that mental break I used to get from running.
What is your best tip for working remotely?
- Don't eat at your desk.
- Schedule breaks.
- If you want to discuss something with a colleague use Skype, not email.
What are you binge watching or listening to now that you have time?
Disney+ launched at the perfect time here in the UK. The Mandalorian is awesome.
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