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Week 1 of home working

The sun is setting on my first full week in my new job as a Subject Matter Expert for Jisc. This is the first time in 10 years I’ve been home based. It didn’t enjoy the experience last time around so with that at the back of my mind and the fact that I’m starting a new role in a new team in a new directorate I’ve been anxious to make a good go of it and spend time reflecting on the experience.

Importantly, I’ve enjoyed it this week but here are a few other things that struck me:

Creating space is important

My homeworking arrangements aren’t ideal at the moment. I’m installed on a table in our unheated conservatory which will be lovely in July. In January, not so much.

It is, however, the only space in the house that I can work in without getting everyone else’s way and can shut the door on when I finish for the day. We’re considering extending into our attic, something we were going to do in the medium term but getting this job has spurred us on to thing about more urgently.

Psychological space is important as well. I’m trying to create a hard boundary between work and personal time. When I shut down at the end of the day the work phone goes off as well and my emails don’t come through to my personal phone. I’m also learning to subdivide my work time, making myself uncontactable when I want to get my head down. Hope I can be disciplined with myself about that.

Connect as much as possible

Being a technology company we have a plethora of tools for staying in touch with colleagues; things like Lync, Yammer, Horizon, Skype and so on. We’re still working out the best way of using these but I’ve been in pretty regular contact with Scott Hibberson, my counterpart, and the small sub team we’re part of. Many of us are new to home working, more used to a social office situation, so being able to see people’s faces has not only been a good opportunity to exchange info, but also just as a reminder that you’re not alone and that other people are finding their way too.

I’ve always been a bit nervous using the phone or Skyping people but I’ve just had to get on with it this week, otherwise the work wouldn’t have got done. It’s actually been quite energising.

Face to face is good too

Halfway through the week I had to pop down to London to pick up some of my homeworking kit. During the trip I bumped into a few colleagues from Netskills, two of whom also work for Jisc now. I was genuinely thrilled to see them and it made what could have been a dull couple of train journeys pass much quicker. There’s also been a couple of coffee sessions at home with colleagues, a trip to the Jisc office in Newcastle and a lunch with a few friends before one of them moves down to Bath.

I’m a natural introvert but that doesn’t mean I’m a recluse. Meeting up with people is an important way of staying in touch with reality for me.

Offices are serendipitous spaces

I’ve been in the Newcastle office today, just to get the lie of the land, see what the space is like and meet up with Chris Young, the new training manager.  That was all good and useful but it was also the accidental stuff that was interesting. Gemma Elliot is the new Marketing Support Officer for Jisc, having previously worked for Jisc infoNet,and is based in the Newcastle Office. I was talking about something with Chris that she overheard and was able to throw in a few really important bits of information that were both helpful and opened up some interesting new areas to think about.

Not something that would have happened easily if I’d been connecting with Chris from home.

That’s not to say that I think home working is a problem, just that working from a range of places can lead to accidentally useful interactions.

Also:

  • I need to have a backup plan for powercuts.
  • I estimate I’ve spent just short of an hour working out how to turn off all the notifications across my new devices to stop the small orchestra of beeps and whistles whenever someone in my contact list breathes. 😉
  • My wireless headset’s range get me to the kettle but not the fridge. Seriously thinking of giving up milk in my tea.

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