May 22nd 2018

Working from home – the best decision you’re yet to make

Working remotely

Let’s go back a couple of years to when I was young(er), perhaps a touch naïve, and eager to prove my worth.

I had just moved back to London after a few years away at uni, and knew that a daily commute would be an unescapable part of starting a career in PR. In my eyes, it was those agencies based in central London which had the best reputation, and as I too wanted a reputation, travelling from zone 5 to zone 1 seemed like the (only) way forward. I applied for a role at Babel – based at its Fitzrovia HQ – interviewed, and got the job. Life was good.

Fast forward a couple of years – and a great many more daily commutes – and I hated nearly everything that South West Trains stood for: the weird frog-in-a-sock type smell that lingers on the escalator from the Bakerloo line to the main concourse at London Waterloo, the constant fatigue and stress that I felt, and the fact that I could only overcome this by drinking about three cups of strong coffee. On a bad day this would often reach five.

I was unhealthy, tired, grumpy, and probably had lungs that were – instead of a nice pink – greyed by pollution. They probably had knobbly bits on them too. I decided one October day after chatting with my partner, that enough was enough. Life was bad. It was time to move.

I broached the subject of moving and working remotely with my boss, to which she replied: “well, I expect a lot more people in the future will do this anyway, so, sure!” or words to that effect. So, we organised ourselves and moved back to our uni town – Cardiff. This was a great move from a career perspective, given Cardiff’s growing reputation as an innovation and tech hub, but there were other benefits which swayed the decision (including the £2.50 pints).

The only challenge was that I’d never worked from home for any significant stretch of time; this threw up a number of questions. Would I go stir crazy? Would people forget that I am a member of the team? Was I going to be as much of an asset when I’m working remotely? Would I have the self-discipline to sit in an office by myself without faffing!?

Luckily, I have a solid support network. My immediate boss on a couple of accounts, Sarah (of Malbec fame), kept me on the straight and narrow with account functions and has helped out immensely. My other colleagues (and friends) keep me sane with great chat over Skype; we have video calls every Monday to go over the week’s priorities, and then extra (virtual) meetings to catch up on various campaigns.

The experience really has been excellent and, aside from not being able to slide my chair over to ask my desk neighbour’s advice, in many ways it’s felt like haven’t left at all. Since the move to Cardiff and the removal of my daily commute, I’m no longer tired, have started cooking properly again, have disposable income to buy books, and can devote free time to exercise and exploring other interests.

The downsides? My goldfish doesn’t have the best chat and my desk here is slightly too shallow, but hardly worth writing home about. Fortunately, I now have a shrimp and snail for extra entertainment, and an Ikea down the road for a new desk in the future.

The point is, if you want to work from home, just ask. Technology has made it incredibly easy to do so and you might just learn something about yourself along the way. Why not go for it? The only thing that could be stopping you is…you.