I was all ready to hate this list of work-from-home tips from Marie Kondo, but actually it’s… not bad?
I mean, some of it is disgustingly twee — striking a tuning fork to signal the start of the working day? — but other parts make a lot of sense, like keeping your work stuff in a box that you can put away outside work hours.
There is a certain amount of work-from-home advice that is not exactly helpful going about, so at this point I am reflexively sceptical of new advice. There was the Washington Post advising people to sleep in their spare room and pretend they were on a trip, to which people quite rightly pointed out that not everyone has a spare room they can just casually go and sleep in. Even leaving aside issues of sudden economic anxiety due to the lockdown, many people made trade-offs to live in smaller homes in more expensive areas that were closer to schools, parks, restaurants, or transport options — precisely none of which they can take advantage of right now.
Another strand of unhelpful advice is when people forget that other people have children, or seemingly have never met a child in their entire lives.
I’m lucky enough that I was already set up with a pretty decent home office, and I spent the early part of this lockdown fitting it out to the nines, but in my own WFH advice I tried not to assume that everyone was in the same fortunate position. Even people who had the space might not have basics like a reasonably ergonomic desk and chair, and many don’t have the luxury of dedicated space. This is where Marie Kondo’s advice chimes with mine:
- Keep your work stuff in one place. Work from the kitchen table, and move to the couch when you’re done.
- Separate work time from personal time. Work from the laptop, then close the laptop when you’re done.
There’s one more piece of advice that I need to add, though:
- Give yourself and others permission to be their whole selves. Some of us are juggling home-schooling kids with work, and so work happens around other stuff. Even when I’m in my home office, my kids regularly burst in to grab something from the printer, ask a question about homework, or sometimes just to give me a hug. People seem to find it charming more than anything else. This may well be because I’m a man, so I go out of my way to reassure female colleagues that it’s okay for their kids to do the same sort of thing.
Maybe you don’t have kids, maybe it’s your dog barking or your cat deciding to sit on you, or your room-mate coming out of the shower behind you. It’s fine, we’re all in the same boat.
And it could always be worse.
How interesting, advertising by creating a profile on Unsplash! I hadn’t seen that one before — for a non-photography business, that is. Curious to know how it works for them. ↩