Like most people, Team Loft has been working from home for most of 2020. From the start, we’ve been determined to stay positive, to look out for each other and to be as creative (if not more creative) than ever. We’ve loved spending more time with our families, having home cooked lunches, going for walks at lunchtime, not commuting, playing with our cats and dogs in between video calls, wearing slippers to work and staying in bed longer but we miss spending time together. Nothing beats that. So how would we rate working from home? Let’s ask the team...
Marks Out of Ten: How We Rate Working From Home
Becki – 8/10
For me lockdown has been a mix of coming to the studio on my own, and working from home. So it’s swung between total chaos when attempting to work from home, with 2 small people home-schooling and a husband also WFH, to really very quiet, can hear a pin-drop but lots of room to focus, crisis plan and strategise at the studio.
At home, I have loved having my 6 and 10 year old boys join client and team calls to say hello and the fact that everyone has become so much more human. I’ve enjoyed having more honest and meaningful conversations with people, rather than just the standard email ping.
It’s also been great to pick back up on my lost love of running, certainly a huge help to both mental and physical fitness during these times. Also helps to keep in check the copious amounts of home-cooking that has become husband’s new hobby!
At the studio, things have certainly felt rather eery and soulless without our usual team banter and full-of-life daily comings and goings. I miss the team. They’re what makes us, and they’re missing from our space. Whilst I don’t believe we’ll ever go back to 100% studio based, I also cannot see a time where the value of getting together and sharing real life moments will be or could be replaced by virtual hangouts.
Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.
WFH started a little more like WTF.
It took a while to adjust to work from home. You can’t beat working in the studio with the team banter - that’s one thing I miss the most. It was difficult to start juggling work and looking after my little girl - that was hands down was the hardest thing to do! Client and team calls and trying to entertain an 18month year old was very hard. As the restrictions loosened and grandparents could look after her and nursery was open it was a lot easier.
It’s great working from home and can get my head stuck into my work without any distractions. If I could choose, in the future, I would be working three days from home and two days in the studio. It’s less of a headache when you have deliveries scheduled or need a boiler replacing. I could just get on with my work and still manage all the headaches that come with buying a house.
Sheilagh – 8/10
Working from home has been a really positive experience for me, I feel like one of the lucky ones. As a team we’re closer than ever before. We start off every day with a video call and each day we pose a different question to get us talking like what’s been the best day of your life so far, what's your favourite smell, and my personal favourite, what’s something you can do that no one else knows about. That’s when we found out that Gregg is a trained campanologist (bell ringer). It’s a really good way to make sure we’re all still talking and having fun.
When your home becomes your workplace, it does come with some challenges. I have two dogs and a [very loud] cat who sometimes decide the best time to start causing trouble is when I’m on a video call to a client. Saying that, I love getting to spend so much more time with my furry family and it’s also opened up some great conversations with clients. I’m thinking of one client in particular – I was really surprised to find out he was a cat-person!
I was also finding it harder to switch off at the end of the day because I was no longer having my 30-minute walk home. One thing I have found really helpful for my mental health is reading. Instead of absent-mindedly watching Netflix whilst scrolling through Instagram on my phone, I read. I’ve read 17 books so far and I’m on to book 18. There’s actually loads of scientific evidence about why reading is good for you but for me, it just gives my brain something else to focus on. The best books I’ve read this year are Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Five People You Meet in Heaven.
Working from home has let me do a lot more with my time and to be more flexible with it too. Before the pandemic, I would limit face-to-face meetings to one per day and there’s no way you’d have got me on a video call. Now, I’m often having several video calls every day. Not just meetings either. I’m running workshops virtually. Overall, I've really enjoyed working from home but now that we’re in winter, I do really really miss the heating in the studio.
Elly – 9/10
Internet speed! That was definitely one of the bigger challenges at least initially. At the start of lockdown, our internet was really slow with everybody working from home. It was frustrating and made it harder to be productive but we upgraded our package and now it’s superfast! We’re with Sky and our internet is honestly so so fast now so I would definitely recommend them.
I do miss seeing the team in person too. Whilst zoom is great, seeing people in real life is better but we make an effort to spend non-work time together as much as we can. We have video calls together every morning and call each other if we need anything. We were also able to have a socially distanced meet up once and we played games and had a lovely afternoon tea.
Not having to commute is a big positive. I live in Liverpool and was driving to and from the studio every day. Now that I don’t have to do that, I find I have more time to do general life things which is great and I can also lie in a bit more.
In fact, I’m able to be more generally flexible with my time which I find really helpful creatively. I find I am really creative and get into that flow state at certain times of the day. Working from home, I can work with this so if I’m getting really into a design piece, I can work later on it and if I’m getting mental blocks, it’s easy to take short breaks. Also, I get really nice homemade lunches – big plus!
The best thing about working from home though has been getting our puppy Rosie. We couldn’t get a dog before because we were both out working all day. We have been able spend the time with her and watch her grow which is just the best thing ever.
Vicky – 7/10
Joining the team in August, I met the whole team over video calls which should be a little weird but it hasn't felt that way at all. Time is set aside for general team calls rather than just meetings, so getting to know everyone and that general studio chatter has still been there.
Having your own space with your own music (at your preferred volume) can definitely help with focus therefore productivity and the ease of jumping on a call to run through work or ideas can keep most things running smoothly. Although, I do feel that some work does need everyone in a room throwing ideas around especially when animating. I really miss getting someone else to just glance at my screen quickly for a second opinion.
Working from home has given me time, which we always seem to need more of. For me this means more evenings on the farm with the horses. Weekends have also become proper time off, even away from chores as they can be done during the week even at lunch times. I am looking forward to when we can merge WFH with studio time. Balancing the joy of a 2 second commute with the benefits of working together in the same place so for me working from home would score 7 out of 10.
Vince – 9/10
Working from home has been a great experience, especially given the manner of how quickly we had to adapt to working remotely at such a short notice. I use my laptop as my daily machine so portability was no issue. Microsoft Teams is our lifeline in chatting to each other, whether it's work related or just banter. I do enjoy the most recent addition to our morning chats with our daily question. It's a good way to truly know all the hidden talents about each other!
The big thing I miss the most is Sheilagh making the half hourly tea, so it adds to my daily exercise walking to the kitchen and popping the kettle on. I would usually work in my man cave; however, my wife is also working from home so I've been kicked out and using the sofa in the lounge instead. The door has to stay firmly shut as we have a cat who doesn't seem to understand that my laptop is not a heated blanket and the ribbon on my notebook is not a toy.
Heather - 6/10
This year is the first time I've ever worked from home so it's been interesting navigating these challenges. As someone who is big on diligence and etiquette, it's been difficult for me to get used to what is and isn't acceptable whilst working from home. I hear of a lot of people typically getting easily distracted, working from their bed or thinking that working from home is near enough having a day off - but now that it's a constant necessity for a lot of us, I think people are now realising that WFH means you have to actually work!
The biggest hurdle is making sure you establish a new routine. It's amazing not having to commute every day - as the stress of traffic and unpredictability of the journey can start your day off on the wrong foot. Ensuring you have a regular time to get up, start work, have lunch and actually finish working is very important to strike a balance between work and home life.
Having a separate space to work has also worked well for me. I'm lucky enough to have a spare room which is now my office, so when I shut the door at the end of the day, my mind can switch quite easily now. So whether it's a corner of your kitchen, a particular chair in your living room or even a coffee shop you can go to, have that distinctive area that gets you into work mode.
Ensuring you have your kitchen stocked up with healthy snacks as well as your main meals has been another big one for me. I love the office culture of having a snack area where people can bring in special treats for everyone to enjoy and have a few minutes' chat whilst making a brew. But in your own house, you have full control over what you eat and drink - and it's surprising how much food you can actually go through when you're constantly at home! Healthy snacks are important to keep your energy up and not be tempted to open the bag of sweets you were saving for the weekend, because believe me, it is tempting!
Sticking to health hacks for working from home, investing in a good, ergonomic desk set up is vital to keep away aches and pains. Make sure your screen or what you're working on is at the correct height so you aren't arching your back. A supportive chair adjusted to your body is crucial if you're sitting for a long time.
Living on my own as well as working from home has been tough, as I'm very much an extrovert who gets their energy from being around people. Having daily video calls with your colleagues or people you work for is a good habit to get into. Rather than emailing or even calling, consider whether having a 5 minute chat on Teams or Zoom would be worthwhile, not only to bond with your associates more effectively, but for your mental wellbeing.
If I had to rate my overall experience of working from home, I'd give it a 6 out of 10. Although it has gone a lot better than I expected, it is also a constant reminder of what is happening in the world. Not having a choice in the matter is also a difficult concept, but we all know it is for the greater good.
So what’s the score?
It’s clear that there have been positives and challenges for everyone. One thing that stands out is that we’re missing our team face-to-face time. Of course, we still speak every day but it’s never going to be the same as being in one space throwing ideas around, reshaping them and flipping them upside down – and although we’re all spending more time at home, it doesn’t mean that time is spent relaxing. Those boundaries between work and life have blurred and actually, we’re working harder and longer than ever before. We love what we do but we need to make sure that we are keeping aside some time to practice some self-care too.
But with a score of 54 / 70, the positives have certainly outweighed the negatives. One thing is for sure, this experience has changed the way we work forever. In the future will be balancing our time in the studio and our time at home.