Working from home: How one Ad Exec learned to juggle

Working from home could either be the ideal work/life balance scenario, or you idea of hell.

But now that most of us have been getting used to the reality of our lockdown enforced home/office hubs, how’s that actually working out?

It’s a whole new world, with partners, housemates, home wi-fi and demanding children all vying for our attention. Never mind the work stuff!

So Rory Hall, Senior Creative at Leo Burnett London, has kindly offered us a glimpse into how he’s managing his WFH life…

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My first full week of working from home was easy. My wife was still working full time and my three-and-a-half year old son was still going into nursery.

I had the house to myself and it was the perfect mix of work and home. The dining table became my desk, the lounge my lunch/breakout area, the kitchen my…kitchen.

I could work undistracted. All my time was my own. Honestly? It was bliss. I even installed some glass pendant ceiling lights to ensure that the lighting was perfect for my working environment. I was taking it seriously!

Working From Home utopia?

But then came the day it was announced that schools and nurseries would close.

I welcomed the news in terms of wider safety, but I also knew that my little ‘WFH’ utopia was about to disappear and the stress would be rising, and as anyone who is working from home with children all around, you need to find ways to reduce your stress to get through the day.

What’s more, my wife is a teacher, so would still have to go into work certain days of the week, leaving me flying solo with work to do and a child used to the stimulus of nursery five days a week.

Juggling act

I had to face the fact that it was time to start learning how to juggle.

So, a couple of weeks ago I started trying to juggle these two different sides of life.

As with real juggling, the first attempts were pretty poor. I was trying to throw too many things up in the air at the same time and everything would come crashing down.

So we picked up and started again. And again…and again. And before you knew it, we were actually juggling!

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Juggling act: Hall has managed to find a working from home/life balance.

These are some of the reasons why it started to work:

  • The first thing that was useful for us was to separate work and play. Eoin now understands that when I’m sat at the dining room table, that’s work time but when I’m in the lounge, work has stopped and all my attention is on him.
  • Secondly, and I’m not ashamed to say it, TV has become a saving grace at times. When I’ve needed to be on important calls or I’ve needed a good hour or more of headspace, Netflix has been incredibly useful.
  • Another thing that worked was combining work and play – taking a lunch break to sit down with Eoin and get creative together. Getting his art set out and getting stuck in (literally, at times) has not only provided us with some time together but has helped spark some creativity in both of us.
  • I have also had incredible support from Steph, my creative partner, and the agency itself. There’s a certain safety in the knowledge that everyone understands and appreciates my situation, and makes allowances as such.
  • The final, and probably most important, thing was trying to embrace this new normal as much as possible. At first it felt as if Eoin was a distraction, pulling me away from work. But embracing that distraction, sitting with him for 20 minutes and then getting back to it really worked and kept us both happy and calm.

Missing the office

I do miss the office at times. The little chats by the coffee machine, the ridiculous debates about which crisps truly are the best (Pickled Onion Monster Munch by a mile) and actually being able to have a meeting face to face.

But if this is to be my reality for a little while yet, that’s fine by me. And I intend to make the most of it, because I think I might miss it when it’s gone.