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your next step | working from home

I’m kicking of a series of posts on how Bristol parents work with a quick one on working from home. I think it’s best to learn from your own experiences, and my career has been exceedingly varied when it comes to working environments. I work from home now, and have done for seven years this November. The above picture is of my ‘office’. Taken at 5.45am.

However, before I began working from home, I have:

  • Worked in an office where not only did people bring their dogs to work, they brought their birds of prey, and guns too
  • Worked in an office where we were allowed to smoke and drink at our desks after 4pm
  • Worked in an office where eating soup and other smelly foods was banned, and we once got told ‘if you’ve got time to laugh, you’ve got time for another account’
  • Lived, and worked, in New York City
  • Worked in one office every morning, then cycled home and worked at home for another firm in the afternoon

I’ve done a 100 mile a day commute, a two tube and a bus commute, and a drive to a London office commute. I’ve read a lot of Metro and smelt a lot of other people.

For efficiency, focus and work rate, nothing beats working from home. Hand on heart, as a very social person who loves any kind of frivolous distraction, home is the best place for me, work wise. But it’s an absolute buzz kill when it comes to loneliness, inspiration and learning.

You should be working from home more, especially as a parent. There’s so few jobs where it’s an impossibility, the barriers are technology, employers, the views of colleagues, and perception. Legally, morally and financially, it’s a savvy-ass move for you and your firm.

It can be very lonely. My firm is great, we are on Skype all day and we often meet up just to work together, either at our London base or in other locations. I often work away from the house, in a club I’m a member of, or cafes, just to hear voices and be part of a group. I do miss impromptu brainstorms, beers, jokes, sandwich shops and going to Primark on change of stock day.

In general though, I love it with a passion. My working breakfast treat each week is a ritual.

How can you create somewhere in your house where working comes naturally? You have to have a designated space, really. I don’t in this house, or our previous house in Bristol either. Having children has meant we use our spare rooms, and not many of us have spare rooms anyway, do we? I’m a kitchen table, one Mac, one notebook worker. If I could create a space, I’d look into office design and try and match my needs with the character of the house a bit. I’d lean towards an extra room outside, or a converted shed. I’d rather be able to walk away.

Working in the kitchen has major drawbacks. The fridge and biscuit cupboard. The dishwasher to stack, the washing machine to empty. I know it’s basic, but here’s a couple of reasons why you should give working from home a try, if you’re a parent:

  • Dinner. You can get it ready in your lunch break
  • You can use what was your commute to do the washing and the cleaning
  • You can slip a bit of fitness activity into your day so much easier. Run home from nursery. Do some HIIT before you have your lunch
  • Buying and selling is easier – you can be at home for deliveries or deliver things you’ve sold in your break
  • There’s some billing economies – home workers get tax breaks on utilities and often, phone bills
  • You can snip those expensive bits off your childcare – get them in at 8.30 rather than 8, pick up at 5 not 6

Anyway, parents of Bristol, if just one of you reads this and thinks, sod it, I’m going to ask if I can work from home a bit, I’ve done my job. If you want to know more about how me, and the firm I work for, make it work for eight staff to work all over the UK at our various kitchen tables, give me a shout. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be talking to some Bristolians doing some serious business for the working practices of parents here. Look out for that .

This is a collaborative post.

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4 Comments

  1. I would lovvvve to work from home but unfortunately I am a chef turned new mom and do not have any “qualifications” in anything else. I have a Mac and kitchen table 🙂 I too have a dishwasher and clothes washing that needs doing….oh and a hungry husband at night ! How do I go about finding something to do from home? Great article by the way…you had me at “I’m kicking”!

  2. Hah – I’ve also worked in one of those smoking/drinking after 4pm places 😉

    I LOVE working from home. I’m with you on missing interaction but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    • Those were the days, hey? Mind boggling now I look back…

  3. Gemma Gemma

    I’d love to work from home even a couple of days a week. My DD is with the childminder 8.5 hours a day 5 days a week! I’m lucky in that I’ve found a job in my area so travel is at a minimum but stress that when my girl is in school she will have to do after school clubs etc until I can pick her up. Too long a day for someone so young I think.

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