There are many, many terrible things about this pandemic and a year ago I would have listed a few bad things about working from home (WFH) in Devon – like the slow broadband and lack of mobile phone signal etc. However, since being sent home back in March 2020 to WFH whilst fulfilling a contract for Cadence Innova, at the University of Exeter – I have grown to love many things about working remotely and indeed, living in Devon. The best and worst thing about contracting can be the travelling and working away.
When I was at JLR they insisted that everyone was on site every day and so I had to arrange for long term accommodation. Thankfully, I found a delightful B&B in Oxhill and slowly got fat whilst parking myself in the local pub every night. Then at Interserve I spent two years at the Park Inn, on junction 1 of the M5 – outliving 3 Hotel Managers and several staff … but sometimes you do just have to be ‘on site’ or nothing gets done.
However, whenever a contract allowed me to work from home 1 or 2 days a week – I always got twice as much work done as when I was on site, or more likely – sitting in my car, which is how a lot of PMs spend their lives.
I’ve lived all over the world and travelled well, but I have been living here in Lace Cottage since 2011 and we have done a lot of work to the house. The garage was converted to a ‘playroom’ and the small ‘workshop’ appending said garage became my office. I have lots of room, a large desk, several screens, book shelves and great light. I have a better work environment than I have ever had in any office, anywhere. What’s more, I am seriously productive.
Whenever I talk to friends in other jobs they more often than not say – “I could never work from home, I just couldn’t be disciplined enough”. But it absolutely suits my personality and my approach to work.
Having been in the British Army for 10 years I have the basic personal discipline down and wherever I have lived in the world, I generally get up and get on with it. I wake up, go downstairs and check emails and messages. I look for a gap amongst my meetings and plan an hour to do a swift walk around the block but again, I will have my phone with me. Project Management and Governance lends itself well to building work habits, making sure certain things are done/checked hourly, daily and weekly.
Most importantly, in my opinion, I seem to enjoy being Always available, and Quick to respond. Whatever time of day I get a message, that’s when I deal with it. If it can’t be fixed there and then, I respond with “Leave this with me, I’ll get on it first thing in the morning and come back to you before close of business”. This is the response I like to get and so it’s the response I like to give. It puts me in control.