Ruth's blog: Whose Turn For The Office Today?
Since last autumn, my husband and I have been travelling to the office on a semi-regular basis after almost 2 years of working from home. In order to make this fit our current childcare situation (one at school then childminder, the other one at nursery) we have devised a rota – one of us goes in each day, the other works at home and is then in charge of the pickups. It works well and means that no-one is stuck at a train station at 5pm screaming at the screens when the trains are delayed.
We each enjoy being “in” – meeting colleagues for the first time ever or for the first time in ages. Being able to work collaboratively and spontaneously so; in a grown-up space with no washing drying in the background. It also means that the parent in town is able to tack on an activity or evening out far easier, which is fantastic after all the enforced home-time (RESULT).
However we had each forgotten how much “night before” prep goes into getting ready – looking out the clean, smart outfit, putting together a drink and packed lunch or bag of snacks, the laptop bag plus cables plus headset, pens, notebook, finding the “right” shoes. And in my case – make up and my travel pass.
Last summer my husband decided that he did not want to wait around for trains anymore nor did he want to squash on with all of the other germy commuters. So he researched and bought an e-bike. Which he loves and zooms in and back far quicker than I – as long as it is charged, he has his work clothes packed up ready, etc.
Office days were a shock to the children – our mornings had a routine but now there is one parent plus rucksack marching the little one off to nursery to a set schedule!
The parent working from home has a lovely quiet day…. almost lonely. I have lost my closest work colleague.
And then the pick up route, getting everybody home again, and the children’s first question is always: “is daddy/mummy home yet?” And then: a disappointed “oooh…are they nearly home?” Then a cheer when we say “they are on their way”. And this is where my personal conflict lies.
We each find the admin and travel in and back really tiring – how did we do this every day? And although my husband loves whizzing in on his bike, I find my commute time – a waste of time. Yes I watch something or listen to podcasts, build in a nice walk when the weather is fine BUT it makes my day longer and I end up with fewer working hours and hence get less work done.
So I will stick at my 2 office days, and see how I go. It is all change for us in September when the little one goes to school with the bigger one, simplifying drop offs and pick ups. Maybe by then I will have made my peace with the commute again. Or been brave enough to borrow the e-bike….
Ruth works 4 days per week in a central London accounting & tax firm. She lives in South West London with her husband, two children aged 6 and 3 and a tank of tropical fish.