The fourth week of March has brought glorious weather, but sadly we are even less able to enjoy it than usual. As guidance on social distancing has become stricter, lots more people are working from home, and now, many have their children with them too. Here, Liam O’Carroll, London Vision’s Project Coordinator, outlines how he stays productive while working from home, and how he’s going to try and continue this productivity while home schooling his son:
“In conversations about working from home, I have been surprised by the number of people who seem to be averse to it. Personally, I feel very lucky to have been engaged on a home-based contract.
One advantage of home working, especially for blind and partially sighted people, is that you do not spend any of your precious energy and time on journeys. Although traveling to work is a given for most people, the soporific atmosphere of crowded trains and tubes can leave one somewhat jaded even before you have settled into your office chair.
Often, I hear people say that working from home presents too many distractions, but I have found the opposite to be true. At home it is quieter than in the office and there are no colleagues enticing you with humorous banter and irresistible conversations about subjects of mutual interest.
The office is not only noisier, but it is also a very inhibiting place where codes of acceptable behavior must be observed. I am not saying that I want the freedom to do outlandish or antisocial things, but the home affords the opportunity to tailor your work environment to play to your strengths: if I have to read lengthy documents, I can play them out loud on the screen reader which allows me to multitask, making drinks, washing dishes, preparing lunch and so on. You can’t really have JAWS blaring out in the office without seriously distracting colleagues from their work.
Office work being very sedentary, I can find my mind wandering as I get brain tired meaning my mind drifts away from the content of a document. On these occasions I find it useful to get up and pace around the room while listening which helps to focus on the text. Again, not a realistic option at the office. The same applies to thinking aloud which is another approach I find useful when tackling certain ideas.
Putting it simply, when working at home I get more done. It is of course possible for work to exceed its boundaries. Discipline is not just about getting the job done, it is also about taking a break at the right time: I have sometimes got so into a task that I end up delaying lunch so far as to make myself less productive later in the day. Then again, this can apply just as easily to working at the office”.
“That’s the normal way of things. However now we have a national crisis and schools have closed. Now children too are home working. My home is noisier than the office. The laptop will have to visit a different room than usual. Maybe the desk will have to visit a different room too! There is always the shed, but at current temperatures an electric heater may be required. There will not be space to pace up and down in the shed.
But we have a new factor in all of this: with schools now closed children must study at home and this requires a level of supervision. I have to take my share of the responsibility of acting the teacher. This means I will have to do part of my work hours when Brandon has gone to bed. Interesting times.”