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Wednesday 23 February 2022

Lessons Learnt: Working from Home - and Link-Up

 Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in large conference room as she mulls over working from home and lessons learnt

Dear friends. It would appear we're not exactly sprinting back to the office.  

Covid restrictions are now fully lifted in the UK, but employees are still very slow to return to the office. The new normal is hybrid working, perhaps spending one day a week in the office, which is what I'm doing.  

Boris Johnson, in his usual tone deaf way, has urged everyone to "get back to work," as if we've spent the last two years doing nothing at home.  Quite the reverse:  last week the Office for National Statistics reported that output per hour was 2.3% above the 2019 average. With that in mind, and the fact that some sectors, such as technology, cannot recruit people unless they offer flexible working, I've got some updated tips on best practices for WFH, and a quick tour of my little home office.

The picture above shows me in one of the big meeting rooms in the office - two years ago.  It seems such a long time ago we did an old-fashioned meeting around a big table.

Nearly a year ago I gave 10 tips for working from home  and these are still very valid, but I'd also add a few new ones based on the experience gained from two years working mainly from home: 

  1. If you're a manager, be vigilant to signs of stress and burnout.  People over the age of 50 were the biggest casualty in the pandemic and many have left the workforce in the last couple of years. And if you're thinking, well who cares, that's a big gap of national insurance and other payments into the system to help fund retirement for millions of today's young people. Not to mention the loss of experience and expertise.
  2. Another one for managers.  If you're expecting people to return to the office a few days a week, you need to check if practices that became normal over the pandemic, such as long hours and working into the evening, are still appropriate. 
  3.  Tips for good Zooming:
    • Headphones and a separate mic
    • Halo ring light is a must. Mine was from Amazon.
    • Try to avoid the camera on your laptop, unless you prop it up so that it's level with your eyes. Through my company I bought a better quality webcam and attached it to the top of a monitor
    • Keep the calls shorter.  30 mins max
    • Make sure you're hearing from everyone on the call. 
    • Summarize the actions at the end  and make sure everyone knows who owns what.  If they're zoning out, they may not be aware they have an action
  4. General set up:  good ergonomics - a proper office chair, desk at the right level. 
  5. If someone sounds down, or exhausted, ask them if they'd like a quick chat 
  6. It helps my mood and willingness to turn on the camera if I'm dressed for work rather than jeans or fitness wear
  7. Keep some dumb bells or a kettle bell in your office and do a few reps during a Zoom call. I also obey the Fitbit's prompts  I didn't used to  - and stand up each hour and do some steps and star jumps.
  8. My company gifted us a "day of care" each quarter, which was very appreciated, and a recognition to the extra stress that home working can bring. 

A Quick Tour of My Home Office

I'm lucky in that we turned the box room into an office for me a few years ago.  The room started off as my crafting den, but I found it impossible to work in an environment that had glitter all over the desk and not enough room for my PC, speakers etc.

My home office centres on functionality rather than beauty. I don't have any floating shelves with delicate plants cascading down, or any  pictures except my favourite, Mr and Mrs Andrews. I do plan to renovate the space later this year to give it a refresh.

I have an optimal working situation with the right desk and chair, and good quality webcam, speakers and headphones to maximise my Zoom meetings. I sit in front of a window, and it's lovely to see the blue sky and sun (when it happens). 

On the desk, which came from Ikea, you can see my Kef speakers, monitor (I prefer one to two), keyboard and laptop underneath, microphone and headphones, halo ring light, land line (hardly ever used), and remotes for the speakers and a tower heater which is very useful in winter when we're trying to avoid having the heating on all day. 

Under the desk is a spaghetti junction of cables of course, and the tower for my home PC. I use that PC for my blogging, photography and personal stuff. J installed a useful switch for me to toggle between the home and work PCs. 

I always have a glass of water to hand, on the right hand side  (good fen shui apparently).

There are two large storage units, both from Ikea, a chest with hanging files for our personal bills and receipts, and a cupboard with pull-up doors. On top of the chest I keep my make-up organizer, from Joseph Joseph, and what I call "the nursery" - new beauty products I've bought or been gifted, which are waiting to be photographed for the blog.

The noticeboard is sometimes used as a mood board, but more often than not, it's just a  place for a calendar and random certificates and letters. Notice there's a kettlebell work out.  

Lately I'm trying to tidy out the overcrowded filing cabinet, which has meant shredding hundreds of old bank statements.  I was tearing my hair out as the shredder kept grinding to a halt.  The little gadget above is brilliant for obscuring your name and address on mail, so that it can go into the recycling. I got it from Must Have Ideas. Refills are available.

Most times of the year I have some flowers on my desk. It starts in January with daffodils and progresses to tulips, stocks, roses, sweet peas - some from my garden, like these: 

In the window is my safety blanket: a BT 4G hub.  It's included with our broadband and means that if the broadband goes down, the 4G automatically kicks in.  There's nothing more stressful than having to leave a Teams call because of poor connectivity  (or losing it altogether), so this little device gives me great peace of mind.  Our mobile connectivity is pretty poor though so it's not perfect! 

How do you feel about going back to the office? Any tips to share?  For those of you who don't work, how do your friends / children feel about commuting again?

Sharing this post with: On Mondays We Link Up at Glass of Glam, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness at Shelbee on the Edge, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile  at StylesplashTFF at Doused in Pink, Lizzie in Lace Confident Twosday at IDoDeclaireRena at Fine WhateverFabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey BrunetteFancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style, Traffic Jam Weekend aLife as a Leo Wife Weekday Wear Link-Up at Away from the Blue Sunday Showcase with Chez Mireille and Elegance and Mommyhood  (first Sunday of the month), Stylish Monday (first Monday of the month) with Ask Suzanne Bell, Talent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling Boomer, Link Up Pot Pourri at My Bijou Life

It's a busy week at Mutton HQ.  On Friday I'll be back with Friday Favourites, the round-up of TV, books and podcasts, and on Monday the Style Not Age Challenge is back.  

I'm also thrilled to tell you that Feedspot has voted Is This Mutton number 3 in the top 10 of UK fashion blogs for the over-50s. You can subscribe to this blog and many others via Feedspot

Now it's time for the #WowOnWednesday link-up. Bloggers/Instagrammers who take part can find new readers, and I promote my favourite five posts on Facebook every week, plus announce the favourites in Instagram Stories.

Last Week's Favourites

Fashion Trends that will rule in 2022 by Nancy from Nancy's Fashion Style

Happy Valentine's Day from Me and Stylish Monday! By Amy from Amy's Creative Pursuits

Is This Mutton Favourite

This and That by Jill from Grownup Glamour

Like a lot of us, Jill is shopping her closet - and what a closet! The blouse she's wearing as a jacket is vintage Christian Lacroix.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

1 comment

  1. I hear girlfriends saying they do so much more when working at home. But they are not keen to go back to the office. But isn't it great that is almost back to normal again! Thanks for the feature!!


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