Working from home: Chesterfield businesses speak out about the importance of finding 'balance' when working in lockdown

A Chesterfield career coach has shared tips for finding a ‘balance’ when working from home, while businesses have spoken out about the pros and cons of life without the office, as coronavirus rules slowly begin to be lifted.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 11:37 am

A recent survey conducted by law firm Wright Hassall, found that the average worker is working at least nine extra hours of overtime per week, compared to just three before the pandemic began last year.

Chesterfield-based career and life coach Rebecca Kirk, who has spent the last 10 years working from home, has opened up about her tips for maintaining a healthy work/life balance as the geographical boundary between home and office disappears.

“With the sharp rise in homeworking and the lines between work and life now more blurred than ever, the need for boundaries has never been more important”, she said.

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Chesterfield career coach Rebecca Kirk.
Chesterfield career coach Rebecca Kirk.

"Often there is a lot of guilt surrounding asking for what we want/need.

“But think of it this way, if you’re on a flight, in the event of an emergency you’re always asked to ‘put your own oxygen mask on first’ – because if we don’t take care of ourselves

first, we can’t be of service to others.”

Create boundaries

Tara Underhill from Destination Chesterfield has enjoyed working from home during lockdown.

Rebecca encourages people to set boundaries in a number of ways, including their personal time, technology use and how and when they interact with people.

Workers should make sure they set their non-negotiable boundaries with their working hours – including the extra hours you put in in the evenings and at weekends or during your time off.

While many are afraid of how this might look to colleagues or clients, it can create a ripple effect by inspiring others to do the same.

Use technology to give you a break

Founder of Chesterfield's Oasis Studio Paul Deakin is keen to return to the office next month.

Set limits to make sure you don’t receive any messages or emails after a certain time.

Rebecca turns her instant messages off from 9pm in the evening till 9am the next day which she described as a ‘game-changer’.

Create your own work space

Even if it’s just a corner of the dining table, wearing headphones or hanging a sign on the back of the chair you work on, can give others a signal when you don’t want to be disturbed.

Katie Snodden, a business development manager working for financial solutions company Bridge Help, has enjoyed the flexibility of home working.

Make others aware of your boundaries and any new ground rules

Rebecca admits this is a ‘tough one’ but explained making other people aware of your rules is crucial if you’re looking to make changes and improve your own wellbeing.

It’s easy to get so absorbed in our work at home that we can’t switch off and previously the commute home from the office provided a welcome buffer to shift our energy and our thought patterns.

Homeworking means many of us are left stuck in our heads, unable to separate from our work.

The Chesterfield woman who practices mindfulness herself, advocates others try the mediation aimed at stress reduction which she said had a ‘dramatic’ effect on some of the clients she coaches.

Rebecca added: “The best thing is it can be done without leaving the house.

“You can practice it by taking some deep breaths at your desk and doing a short meditation as part of a morning or evening routine or even while washing the dishes.

“In my experience as a coach, when it comes to balance most people know what they need to do but they’re not doing it.

“Often this is because they haven’t given themselves permission because of the fear of what might happen, how people will perceive them or they just don’t feel like they deserve it.

“Allow yourself to move a step closer to your ideal working day, even if it’s just having a 10-minute lunch break.”

Founder and director of creative design studio, Oasis Studio Paul Deakin is keen to return to their office in Whittington Moor in April, after five months of working remotely.

The businessman commented: “The studio now also offers hybrid working to take on board the good elements of the home working with all the benefits of full team collaborations and real-world interactions that group working brings in the studio.

“Having regular full team engagement in an environment that they all want to be in allows a natural and more casual pollination of ideas, open studio conversations on the creativity the full team brings to the products we design.”

While Tara Underhill, who works as a senior coordinator at marketing agency Destination Chesterfield shared she’s really enjoyed home working.

“Living next to the town centre is fantastic and I’ve enjoyed nipping to local bakeries for lunch during the lockdowns”, she commented.

"In the summer, my husband and I had a lovely anniversary meal during a lunch break, I can’t wait for restaurants to reopen so we can take more advantage of what’s on our doorstep.”

The flexibility and money saving aspect of working from home has also been a hit with digital marketing manager Lucy Duszczak from Chesterfield who works for The Youth Hostels Association in England and Wales.

Lucy said: “It’s given me the flexibility I never had before.

"I’ve been able to work full time, homeschool with the kids and get some well needed daily exercise without rushing around for the daily commute to the office.”

Business development manager Katie Snodden, who joined Chesterfield financial solution company Bridge Help – which pride themselves on offering a flexible working environment – explained how her previous employers did not allow home working which made arranging child care difficult.

“Work is no longer 9 – 5 and office-based; the pandemic has proven that”, Katie added.

"If a client wants to speak to me in the evening after they have finished homeschooling and put their children to bed, I absolutely understand that.”

Rebecca has developed a free 30-minute workshop to help people make their working life happier.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Phil Bramley, editor.