Many are these days considering how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected them regarding that fine balance between earning a living and living an enjoyable life outside of working hours. I’m not necessarily sure how to answer this for msyelf as there have definitely been pros and cons for me. In general, I enjoy working from home, it’s something I’ve done regularly in the past offering telecounselling, working in forensic psychology research, proofreading and copywriting so I’m really no stranger to it.
Through the various lockdowns and restrictions I felt fine with things, no hot and stuffy, crowded public transport or indeed queueing for that, being two hours a day to the good due to the lack of a commute, general flexibility of work and breaks and so on. I have lots of space and peace and quiet to work in and a garden to relax or occasionally work in. Most of all, I felt settled into a much less stressful routine. There were no decisions about whether to do much in the evening or not as there was little choice so I’d just settle into relaxed evenings of reading, writing, TV, radio and web browsing. My Bengal cat loved it too! All good so far.
What was more difficult for me was the inner clamour to get out and socialise again once that became possible with venues opening. Only now do I feel I’m exerting some control over that. It was how I imagine being released from prison feels.
Professionally I’m fine with it. I miss seeing clients face to face sometimes though, they numbered around 50% of my caseload previously. I did embrace telecounselling though and feel it’s strongly how therapy is going to end up being offered more often than not. This has happened to a greater extent in North America where it can often make sense to carry out the work this way when over greater distances and this is where it is being lead from in my view.
A problem can be not being able to process the thoughts about some of the tough stories during the day, the attempted suicides, calling emergency services, generally distraught people and so on. At the office it wouldn’t be migrated home but chatted about with my colleague over a coffee, followed by locking the office doors and a relaxed walk through the city, letting go of that swirl of thoughts. Working from home though could potentially see those feelings only shiften to another room.
My job was ‘safe’ but I did in fact get TUPEd to a larger charity last month. I knew my previous colleagues well and considered them friends, having met them for training and meetings in Birmingham many, many times. Some of my new colleagues I may never meet so it’s naturally more difficult to have that ‘closeness’ and kindredness.
I’ve recently been informed that it may be a little time before returning to a hybrid working system. The lease on my office in the city has not been renewed by the new company though there is a probable intent to do that. In the meantime good old Nottingham City Council insisted all the furniture was removed so sadly, it’s probably ended in a skip somewhere which is a total waste. I’ve handed the keys back and feel a long way from working in an office again at this time.
In conclusion, I’ve benefitted from the change in working practices, financially, time-wise and in generally less stress. The main challenges have been in adjusting back to whatever normality is now and in living the days as a more lonely existence.