I’ve decided this week that our current home working situation is not actually as bad as I thought. My office has for a while now essentially been the end of the dining table, but it doesn’t take up a huge amount of space and being just a laptop and some paperwork, has always been pretty easy to clear away when we’ve had people round for supper or if we were laying the table for a big family meal and needed to spread out. We have glass doors at my end of the room, so there’s plenty of light, the wall I face has a huge stretch of sky-patterned wallpaper, so I can see blue skies even when the real weather is rubbish, and there’s a big houseplant in the corner that despite my best (unintentional) efforts, I have not managed to kill. Life was pretty good in my office world until the middle of March.
My husband does not (did not?!) normally work from home – he did work out of a shared office space in Bristol. When Covid became part of the national vocabulary earlier this year, both his company and the owners of the shared working space were very quick to make the decision that the office should close with fairly immediate effect and that everyone should work from home. At first, it was just him and a laptop sharing my end of the table – I couldn’t spread my paperwork out as much as before, and he did have a fair few meetings for which I had to turn the music off, but otherwise not much had changed. Later, when the central office also closed and his whole company started working from home, the meetings increased, and we all had to be silent for large swathes of the day – not ideal, as this coincided with the children being home all day and the start of homeschooling. The final straw came with the declaration from the husband that he needed his two screens to be able to work properly and had arranged a time to get access to the office to pick them up. He’s not exaggerating, of course he does actually need them, and as he is by far the main breadwinner, I do try to be supportive, but I will admit to being more than a little put out when my view suddenly changed from the always-blue sky to the back of two massive black computer screens and their associated cables, the gap in between them filled with the back of the laptop. Not the most inspiring view.
After weeks of staring resentfully at the back of this three screen set-up, though, I finally had a revelation – he has definitely got the worse deal. For starters, the always-blue sky wallpaper is behind him, so he is left facing through into the kitchen (not a terrible view, but the fridge is definitely not as lovely to look at as the wallpaper); secondly, he only gets even that view if he stands up – from a seated position all he gets to look at are those three screens, the two massive ones angled just so that without moving, he can’t even really see out of the glass doors; thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, he is tied to those screens, and they are very much fixed in place. I, on the other hand, work from a laptop, designed by its very nature to be portable. So this week, with no home school to worry about, I have moved my office outside. Nature has obliged by giving us an actual real life blue sky to look at, the birds are providing my music while I work, and from here I can’t even hear the children arguing. There are snacks and once the sun is past the yard-arm I can work on with a drink without judgement. There is the odd creepy crawly to deal with, but in the main I’d say I’m definitely winning at office lotto, this week. Even Corporation Tax doesn’t seem so bad out here. Now if Mother Nature could just oblige and let us keep this weather for the next, say, three to four months, that would be fabulous!