Can you believe it! It has nearly been a whole year since MadeByShape decided to pack up the studio and work from home! It’s weird to look back and think, “yeah, this will only be for a few months and then things will go back to normal”, but here we are in February 2021, still working from home. Last year I wrote a blog Jo Edwards: Working from home, about my experience at the start of lockdown. A lot of things have changed since then and working from home has become the norm for me, especially because I’ve actually been working from home longer than I have been working at the studio.
After the first lockdown finished and things eased off, MadeByShape came up with the plan to create a rota where there would only be 4 people in the studio at any time. This is because the office space is small and people would struggle to socially distance themselves. With the plan to work from home and the studio, we didn’t want to carry our iMac's back and forth and risk damaging them. So we changed our iMacs for Macbook Pros for easy transport and faster computer speed. Not long though after starting this rota, another lockdown came in and it was back to working full time from home and we have continued to do so since.
Even though the laptops were bought for travel reasons, it has had great benefits. With the iMac being wired you were limited on where you could work but now we have Macbook Pros I can sit and move around during the day. My dog Pebble is also enjoying this new upgrade because I can work on the sofa and she can cuddle up next to me, this has been extra great during the cold winter months. Once springtime rolls around, I’m interested to see if I can work outside in the garden but screen glare could become an issue!
I’m sure it was the same for everyone, but getting my head around the new workflows and time management was tricky at first. I’d only been at MadeBypeShape for 8 months before we started working from home, and it felt like I’d been thrown in the deep end. Suddenly my colleagues, who were a few feet away, were gone. If I wanted feedback or help I’d have to speak over slack which, for some tasks, have been sometimes hard to fully explain or understand. Since then though I’ve become more confident in my work and can crack on by myself for the majority of tasks. I’ve also learnt to use Zoom or Slack calls if I feel that things will be easier to visually explain to my colleagues. I feel happier and more in control of my workflow compared to the first month of working from home.
I’ve also improved on time management. In the beginning, I would only have a 15 - 30 mins lunch break because I was worried about my workload but this only made me more stressed and tired. I now make sure I get an hour away from my laptop to give myself a proper break. I’m still somewhat bad when it comes to what time I finish work. If I know I’m behind on my schedule I’ll do another 30 mins or an hour after the workday has finished, but I know this will get better as I get quicker at my job.
I also recently did an online time management course with Total Excellence Centre and was given some really helpful tips on how to prioritise tasks and jobs to make my workflow easier and less overwhelming. Things like knowing what is an important or urgent task. Creating broken down checklists on Trello. Also, understanding the importance of being productive but taking breaks to clear my headspace when needed.
As mentioned in my previous blog one of my biggest pros is getting an extra hour in bed and this still stands! It’s so nice to get ready in the morning and sit on the sofa with my laptop and get to work. It’s going to be weird when I have to commute again. I’m also still enjoying my wide variety of food choices and yes I still enjoy the occasional fish finger butty.
Another pro that could come under con depending on how you look at it, is clothing and appearance. When I used to go into the office I’d wake up, do my hair and makeup, put on my nice clothes and boots. But since working from home, which I’m sure the majority of people will be doing the same, my favourite thing to wear are my joggers. Comfort over style has become more important, and since the only occasional zoom calls are with my colleagues (sorry guys!), it means I don’t need to worry as much about being completely presentable.
My biggest pro for me though is still spending every day with my dog Pebble. It doesn’t matter where I am in the house, whether I’m on the sofa or in the office, she is always close by. It’s so nice to have her company and this past year so many people have bought dogs for this reason.
Some negatives working from home are still the same, like working and living in the same space. It’s hard to separate the two, and sometimes I’ll work overtime because I need to finish something and I don’t need to leave the office. Thankfully having a dog gets me out of the house, Pebble knows when the workday has finished and will start to let me know about it right on schedule, each day!
Another negative which hasn’t changed is missing my teammates. I really enjoy the company of my team. I miss catching up with the latest gossip and hanging out with each other at lunchtime. We have filled that gap though with funny quotes and gifs on Slack. It’s nice that there are still funny team moments to share despite working remotely.
It’s hard to say when we’ll go back to a studio rota and when all of us will be working in the studio again. Maybe it will be summertime or later. We also have two new members who I’m looking forward to getting to know face to face. For now, we will continue to work as normal from home, doing what we do best. We wish you, your family and friends good health and hope you are well and safe during these continued difficult times. All the best from everyone here at MadeByShape.