With the Prime Minister’s announcement today that you are encouraged to work from home if you can once again in England (the advice in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has differed over the last few months), many people will be faced with the back-aching idea of propping up their laptop on some old books and dusting down the corner of the spare room that had become their office during the lockdown period.
There are many positives people enjoyed from working from home, including flexibility with hours around childcare, the lack of commute, and being in total control of your workspace.
One big negative for me personally was the increasing usage and reliance on your computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone screen. At the end of every working day my eyes would feel like they’ve worked overtime, and that’s with me taking screen breaks. As much as your office environment had its drawbacks, it did mean that you weren’t so much of a slave to the screen as you could physically interact with colleagues.
For me, often the most productive and creative times over the lockdown were when I’d take my work with me on my daily exercise. Going for a walk or run at lunchtime helped give me a new perspective, with different surroundings, fresh air and a clear mind when thinking about creative projects. Instead of never ending Teams or Zoom calls where you rather unnaturally stare at someone’s face (or more likely their bookcase) for 30 minutes, I’ve discovered this incredible piece of technology that you can use wherever you are to talk to people. It’s called a mobile phone. But you can’t see their face when you talk to them. It’s just their voice. A bit backward, I know, but it kind of works.
Like reading a book, you have to fill in the bits of the story the author doesn’t tell you using your mind and imagination. Having a one-to-one phone call with someone about their weekly workload is much more natural and human than staring up their nostrils while they’re telling you about a crisis they had to deal with.
We’re called Voiceworks because we believe in the power of voice and audio. We know people are listening to more and more podcasts and on-demand audio than ever before. When you need time to think or even to switch off, you don’t need pictures.
So, as we all work from home again if possible, can we agree just to talk a little more rather than stare?