Working from home is a different experience for everyone. Love it or hate it, if you work in the PR and communications industry, you’ve probably had to use your home office (or kitchen or loungeroom) for at least part of the last year. Since starting my role at TMPR, my WFH experience has gone through many iterations. From learning the ropes remotely, to working in another time zone, it’s certainly been quite a journey.
Coming to the UK from Australia near the end of 2019 felt like the beginning of a great adventure. I had no set plans, except to see where life took me! Of course, in March 2020, things changed somewhat. My hopes of saving and travelling were soon replaced by just attempting to get through the strange circumstances I now found myself in, far away from home.
Starting from home
After a year in and out of lockdowns and a particularly trying winter bunkered down in Cardiff, things started looking up in March 2021: I found a job working for TMPR. From my little home-office I had my induction remotely, met new colleagues over Zoom, and introduced myself to clients through Outlook.
If you have ever started a new job from home before, you’ll know how disconnecting it can feel. It’s so much easier to ask your workmate a silly question, or get reassurance that you’re following correct processes in-person.
Luckily, Louise agreed, and reopened the Penarth offices to help me find my bearings. Soon the office was alive again, with the team in one room – collaborating and communicating like a well-oiled PR machine. But I couldn’t escape the fact that something was still missing in my life…
It was coming up to two years since I’d been home, since I’d seen most of my family and friends, or smelled the familiar perfume of a eucalyptus tree on a warm day. With travel restrictions (and costs) being as they were, popping back to Perth for a short visit was out of the question.
Broaching my concerns with Louise, she couldn’t have been more understanding. And, as it happened, a particular client was looking for on-the-ground support for their Australian operations. The stars were aligned!
Back to the mother-and-father-land
Soon I was in a mandatory quarantine facility in Darwin. ‘Working from room’, you might call it. This phase of my WFH experience was by far the most trying. I don’t know how many times I had to use “quarantine brain” as an excuse for silly slip-ups, but I still swear it is a real and dangerous condition!
14 days later I was working from my parents’ home (see: basement) in sunny Western Australia. After a week of meetings being interrupted by my dad showing me the crayfish he’d just caught, or my mum “just popping in” to see if I needed anything, it was somewhat of a relief to finally move into my current location, where I am working from home right at this very moment.
My working life now is broken up into two distinct segments. When I log in in the morning, I sift through the emails that have piled up as I was sleeping the night before. None of my colleagues and very few of my clients are awake at this point. I then get to work on my list, chunking out my time to copywriting or daily administrative tasks, fuelled by too much coffee.
It can be tricky to stay motivated when your boss is asleep (sorry, Louise), but it helps to have a defined list. It’s a cliché for a reason – it really works! And the satisfaction you feel when crossing off each item is so rewarding, trust me.
Then the afternoon rolls around and, all of a sudden, I start getting notifications. People are rising! Replying! I’m no longer alone! Louise, ever the early bird, usually starts responding to my emails at around 7:30am UK time; Tom logs in at 8am. Then the meetings begin!
To the annoyance of, I’m sure, everyone that I work with, the best time to meet with me is between 9am and 10am in the UK. This then brings me to 5pm in Perth – but I often will stay logged in later than that.
Working from home, sweet home
Working from home(land) means that I have very unique working hours. I have the privilege of not needing to set an alarm anymore. I start work when I am well and truly ready, and finish on that same principle. The tricky part is then switching out of work-mode mentally. It can be hard to completely log off when your colleagues are in the full swing of their workday.
Still, the move back home feels right. On a sunny day I go out and work on my front porch, enjoying the particular birdsong of Perth. The kind of subtle background music that easily goes unnoticed when it surrounds you, but is sorely missed in absentia. If you catch me on Zoom between the hours of 9am and 10am, you might just hear it too.