Working from home

Many of us are now getting used to the changes and challenges of working from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Below, Ken shares his own experience of working from home during the lockdown. This article was originally published by Holyrood Magazine.

Tell us about your home-working experience

My home office, from well before COVID-19 turned our world upside down, has long been the corner of our 1970s style, flat-roofed conservatory. Freezing in winter (and in the evening when I am most often working at home) and baking in summer, it is not exactly ergonomically designed for efficient and contemplative study, but in a busy house like ours, it has the saving grace of offering relative peace and quiet.

Is there a nice view?

Particularly at this time in the spring, it is quite beautiful. A cherry blossom tree sits on the same side of the conservatory as my old teacher’s desk and late April, early May each year sees it in full bloom. I am no horticulturist but even the most unappreciative philistine would struggle not to feel uplifted with such a prospect. The only downside is my deeply irritating seasonal hay fever. It is not directly related to cherry blossom pollen but I know from experience that when the tree is at its best, my eyes will be streaming.

How do you stay focused?

Lockdown has created a new visual distraction for me, in the shape of family exercise. One of the unplanned but joyous consequences of the pandemic is that all six of our kids came home. That means there is always a lot going on. In normal times, they are all tennis players and in the absence of organised sport, they have turned the garden into an outdoor gymnasium. The space directly outside my window is now often the scene for a series of press-ups, star jumps, squats and worse.  I am no gym-goer, but when the whole family decides to work out along to The Weeknd or Dua Lipa, it can be tricky to stay focused on answering correspondence or taking phone calls.

What have you learned from this experience?

Much as I like to think of the conservatory as my office, in reality it is everyone’s office and what COVID has really taught me is where I stand in the family pecking order. Claire needs to work online, our two eldest are back from university, three are at high school and one at primary, and all have remote classes to attend. I, on the other hand, have a laptop which can work equally well from the sofa in the living room. So that is where I mostly find myself.