Home working happiness: learning to love life in lockdown

It’s been a few weeks now since we embarked on a nearly global lockdown. Those of us fortunate enough to work from home will have either settled into a new normal or be grappling with finding a home-working routine that, well, works. Whichever type of homeworker you are, I want you to stop what you’re doing and join us for a bit of reflection.

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Over the past few weeks, despite the world beyond our four walls looking a lot darker than it did a few months back, I’ve found little rays of happiness in the newly discovered positives I’m experiencing from working at home – and that I’m hearing from other people, too. From increased productivity, to happiness boosts, and bigger environmental and social wins. Instead of asking the team here at Write the Talk to give me their top tips for home working, I asked them to look for their own rays of happiness and identify some of the home working positives they’re grateful for right now.

#1: Family can come first

Might be an obvious one, but we’re surrounded by the ones we love a hell of a lot more than usual at the moment. For me, working from home means getting to have lunch with my SO, going for a stroll around the block together or generally being able to irritate her when feeling slightly bored. It’s the perfect complement to the hard-working day. It brings a lot of light relief and (hopefully) there’s an endless supply of coffee on tap, too. The family factor is something we’re all feeling grateful for across the team. With joint gardening projects taking place and two-year-olds regularly starring on conference calls, there’s no shortage of family time at the moment.

#2: Thank god for home comforts

If your studio is anything like ours, there are two subjects that cause heated discussions (literally) among us: the temperature and the music. Research into both shows that they have a definite impact on our productivity. Around 2% of office hours in the UK are wasted by quarrelling colleagues bidding for their preferred climate, which costs the economy more than £13 billion each year, while listening to music we don’t like decreases our brain connectivity. Working from home, we are our own climate-controlling, motivational DJ. Being able to readily alter both positively impacts our day and, for some Write the Talkers, so does wearing slippers, having full loo roll control and having post-5pm wine on tap, too.

#3: Zero commuting, no carbon, more time

The average commute in the UK is 59 minutes long. That’s two hours a day spent in a cramped car or sweaty train. And if you’ve ever driven to work, you’ll be familiar with the catastrophic effects getting stuck in traffic can have on your mood. Nearly all of us agreed that the one-room-to-another commute is a pretty sweet deal. We get two hours of the day back and finishing work at 5pm means just that. That’s extra time for the things we value, whether that’s a run around the block, spending time with family or helping people unwind by teaching some online yoga.

It’s also a great feeling knowing that, while humanity is tackling a much bigger problem, we’re helping the world heal by reducing our carbon footprint. In the past few weeks, huge drops in nitrogen dioxide have been reported across several major cities, causing some scientists to predict that more lives might be saved due to cleaner air than will be lost to Covid-19.

#4: More financially healthy  

Not travelling to work comes with financial perks, too. We’re not using fuel, we’re not buying train tickets and we’re not buying unnecessary food at lunch time. Or, come to think of it, buying anything unnecessary at lunchtime. As a nation, 70% of full-time workers go for a weekly shop in their lunch break, and those of us who buy lunch each day end up spending £957.60 on food each year. Being more culinary-clever is something else that as a team, we’re more mindful of. Using up leftovers, being creative with back-of-the-cupboard ingredients and making healthier, fresher meals for less is something we’re all enjoying right now.

#5: And physically healthy

Another perk of not having to travel is having the time to exercise and be outdoors. I’ve swapped morning commuting for laps of the garden. I discover new music on Spotify, get my step count looking pretty healthy and spend some quality time trying and failing to play with the ball hogging dog. This is my fail-safe way of making sure those mood-boosting chemicals are flowing and I start the day feeling great. After work, I don my running gear and pound the pavements to clear the day from my head. Exercise is something we’re all grateful for, whether it’s running (or planking) at lunchtime, getting back into daily yoga, increased step counts from increased fridge visit reps, or being able to regularly stretch your legs in the garden instead of the stale-smelling office stairwell. Connecting with sunshine was also one of our positives. It’s another serotonin-producing trigger, which helps us fight depression and leaves us physically fitter.

#6: Pets, pets and more pets

I think I can speak for the whole team when I say our #1 lockdown highlight has been when someone’s cat meowed and set someone else’s dog off. It was genius. Which is why our cuddly, stress-busting best pals made it onto our positives list. Having pets around us is good for our physical and mental health. Cuddling them releases oxytocin in our brains, which calms and soothes us. In terms of work, dogs not only reduce stress, but boost morale and keep us active, and this all has a proven benefit on productivity. Hooray for cuddle buddies!

#7: Taking the time to reconnect

The lockdown situation has made us truly appreciate each other and the people around us. From virtual pub quizzes with friends, to Houseparty with family and children returning to the safety of their childhood homes. We’ve adapted how we socialised and connect with people, re-evaluating what matters most in this time of need. It’s the same with work. Our morning video calls feature children, spouses, dogs, cats and plenty of laughs. On a Friday, we all have a cheeky drink together and chat weekend plans before parting ways.

It feels like we’re working closer together despite being further apart.

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