Raising a glass to National Working from Home day!

business coaching personal lifestyle work life balance working mums May 16, 2022

Today, 17th May, is National Work from Home day.  Once upon a time, I thought that working from home (WFH) was the holy grail of achieving a work-life balance. 

28 years ago, I would have jumped at the chance to work from home…..I was working for a law firm with a new born baby, and a husband who worked away from home during the week.

I wanted to work - I  had a career I enjoyed and wanted to develop.  I also had incredible difficulty with finding child care, which was pretty much non existent back then….so I chose to pay for a Nanny.  As you can imagine, this took much of my salary - 80% of my take home pay, in fact,

But WFH simply wasn’t an option.  And for me, it remained that way throughout my time as a working mum. 

I’d look at those who had managed to negotiate WFH for some of their week and would emit a pang of jealousy.

In 2018 I finally took a role that allowed me to include an element of WFH. 

But, although I’d longed for this for years, and we even bought a house with a “proper office” to accommodate it, I found that I preferred going into the “real” office and that working from home didn’t hold the attraction for me that I thought it would! 

At home I was easily distracted. And I missed working with others.  So I chose to carry on and work from the office with colleagues.

Then, of course, the Pandemic hit and we were all sent home.  WFH became the norm for pretty much everyone for a couple of years.  Even when things started to open up, few had the opportunity, or perhaps the desire, to return to pre-covid routines.

But for me, I found it hard.

The early days of WFH were ok - we were all adapting together.  We all made an effort to check in on each other during those long days in our home offices.

I made sure I didn’t get distracted.  I was determined to embrace the fact I was one of the lucky ones with a dedicated work space, and was grateful for the fact I wasn’t home-schooling at the same time.

But the work days got longer.  Without the commute to naturally break up the day and provide “wind down” time, I found myself spending more and more hours at my desk in front of my screens.

Previously being very active - going out for a walk in my lunch break, or a run, or cycling to work, I found my Garmin politely informing me that the total of 578 steps that I’d taken were not really enough.

My “commute” consisted of walking downstairs, into my office, via the coffee machine in the kitchen…..and then at the end of the day doing the same in reverse, but via the fridge for a much needed glass of wine.

(I don’t think it is any coincidence that today is also National Pinot Grigio Day!!)

I heard someone describe it not as Working from Home, but Sleeping in the Office.  And that’s often how it felt.

Instead of that elusive work-life balance, I felt that everything was just work.  Home was work, work was work.  No colleagues, no client meeting, and no fun.  Zoom and Webex were, of course, welcome but there is no substitution for face to face chat, banter and discussions about who’s turn it is to make teas and coffees for everyone!

I know the circumstances were not expected - my employers didn’t ask for the pandemic any more than I did, but eventually it took its toll.

I wasn’t able to make WFH, whilst working for someone else, work for me.

So in December 2021, I handed back my corporate laptop, and made the decision to work for myself, focusing on building my passion, my coaching and mentoring business.

But, I hear you say, you’re still working from home!  What’s changed?

My ability to now create MY business, around OUR life, is what’s changed.  I work from home, with hours that suit, so that we can get time to do the other things that are important to us.

My “weekend” is now Friday and Saturday, so that I can accommodate clients on a Sunday who also work the traditional 9-5.

My lunch-breaks actually consist of lunch. Away from my desk.  In the garden if the sun is out - because I don't feel like I have to justify any time away from my desk.  There is still a feeling from some that those who are WFH aren't actually working  but are shirking.  

I’m not always in my home office, though - despite working in a business that is largely on-line.  I have thoroughly enjoyed going back to in person networking events.  I’m grateful for these being up and running again, and I believe that I actually enjoy them MORE having had them out of reach for so long.  This is definitely a case of “you don’t know what you’ve got til you lose it”!!

I'm glad I have the ability to work from home now.  Its perhaps a shame that I didn't get to make it work sooner, but better late than never!

So, today, I shall raise my glass of Pinot Grigio (well, as I say surely not a coincidence it is celebrating its own national day today!) and celebrate National Working From Home Day.

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