fifteen weeks

Week 1 of lockdown

If you follow me on Instagram you will know that on each working day for the last fifteen weeks of lockdown here in the UK I’ve posted a “WFH selfie” – a picture of me at my desk, dressed, showered, make up on. It sounds like a rather vainglorious pursuit right, but I started it as a show of solidarity for other people like me who were (at the beginning) shielding from Covid19 as we were classed as “vulnerable” and then, once the whole country went into a lockdown, a way of helping everyone who was working from home to keep going however hard it seemed (and believe me there were days when, despite the smile and the lipstick, it was incredibly hard). It has also been a good way of documenting how fast my hair grows!

But now things are easing…

This week I’m off work on a rainy staycation in my living room while I start to write Book 6 and next Saturday the UK starts to come out of lockdown with cinemas, restaurants and pubs reopening across the country. There are naturally, in these divisive times, very mixed opinions on this from those who think we are coming out of lockdown too soon to those who never thought the virus existed in the first place. I’m somewhere in the middle. I think the biggest problem was that we locked down way too late in the UK and I’m not sure there’s a way back from that. We do need to support the economy whilst being incredibly careful about a second wave. Can that be done? I have no idea. We’ll see I guess….

But as we ease out of lockdown I’m starting to think about what I’ve learned from the last fifteen weeks

Week 15 of lockdown

and what things in my life I can change moving forward.

Since we started shielding in March my husband and I have seen no other living human except each other, my GP and an occasional pharmacist. Everything we’ve needed has been delivered (a plus point of having chronic illness was that we were already on the priority list for supermarket delivery so didn’t have too many interruptions with that right at the beginning) and have been very grateful for our jobs, our fast broadband connection, our garden and the park by our house early in the morning. We are both introverts, we both prefer working from home and we both, it seems, thrive by being solitary (is this weird? Are there any other people who thrive in this way? It seems a sort of antithesis to being human…??)

I know a lot of people who are climbing the walls now and I hear you.

I have no idea how lots of folk are coping and I truly hope you’re OK and feeling a bit better knowing you can get out and about a bit more. Right at the beginning of all this I wrote about how lots of factors of my life haven’t changed that much. It’s been years since I went into a pub or a supermarket (both huge migraine triggers) but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things I miss – like a cup of tea that I haven’t made myself, or lunch with my husband in a local cafe, or getting my nails done.

But there’s one major thing for me that has changed my life for the better and that is working from home. My days are shorter because I don’t have to commute, which means I have time to get some fresh air and go to bed earlier. I don’t have to start my day standing up on a crowded train and therefore starting my working day feeling sick and dizzy. When my symptoms are bad I don’t have to take a whole day off sick (and get penalised for that), I can dim the lights in my office, put some lavender oil on and get on with my work slowly. Hand on heart I can honestly say that fifteen weeks of working at home have improved my productivity and focus (and I know this isn’t true for everyone).

For over a decade I’ve been trying to get workplaces to understand the importance of working from home and how it can help chronically ill and disabled employees but have been met with negativity – told that my request is inconvenient and if I get to do it everyone will want it. I’ll admit that watching workplaces bend over backward to help able bodied people work from home at the beginning of the pandemic was somewhat galling but my hope is that workplaces will now see that working from home is an acceptable concept, that it helps many people focus and work more efficiently and that not everyone will want to do it (most of my colleagues are chomping at the bit to get back into the office).

Fingers crossed eh? I’ll keep you posted.

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