Working from home. Remote working. Flexible remote.
It was exciting at first, just like a snow day. The idea of being holed up at home, low on toilet paper, with my flatmates, working, felt so far from what I’d ever considered feasible. It’s still all too surreal, and I’m expecting to wake up at any moment.
Our long-abandoned London Office is beginning to fill up again. After all, it’s an incredible space - towering over Spitalfields, and neighbouring Shoreditch. Concrete collides with steel to form the interior shell, housing research labs, war rooms, and corridors once bustling with life. Expertly designed to facilitate collaboration, conduct user research and personify our brand - the London Office is where I, like many Foolproofers, feel most at home.
Some of our newer colleagues are yet to experience Foolproof in full. In my view, 45 Folgate Street, much like Seebohm House and our other sites, is a vibrant community where I’ve established meaningful, lifelong connections. And it's where we thrive.
That’s part of my working from home story, with a generous, if not cheesy, helping of office nostalgia. And these are my colleagues’ stories, works, and thoughts.
I tried making a micro-zine every day at the beginning of this whole thing, it lasted for maybe a week, but in the first one I wrote a haiku about WFH which I think still rings true.
Zoom. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom?
We're having a call on Zoom.
3 hours less travelling, win.
I love how accessible it’s made work for lots of people. Workplaces now know that we can all work effectively from home, so in future there should be no excuse to force people into the office, especially if they have a health issue which means WFH is better for them. Also I miss the train to London.
I miss just wandering over to someone’s desk with my laptop to get feedback on the fly. I know we can do this over Zoom, but it just doesn’t feel the same.
I miss getting Pad thai between research sessions.
I miss the Norwich office lunch clubs.
I have achieved a love/hate relationship with Miro, but will definitely keep at it going forward.
I thought it strange at first
four walls to wake, eat, work, sleep
an unquenchable thirst
to do more than peep
out my window for a glimpse of green
how keen must I have been
Going so far as to
messaging people I never used to
Yeah Zoom was the rage
as Skype left the stage
and Blue jeans was sorta in it's own cage
of software that couldn't keep up.
I lost track of time
Mental health kinda declined
and ordering food more than required
'cause all did was wake, eat, work, sleep
between dreams of going out
just to walk-about.
I had a proper tan for the first time since I left high school! Mostly, I learned to carve out some time for me. Commuting was unhealthy for me: I would just get lost in thoughts or scroll whatever was uploaded from my social media channels. But in some way it would force me to have time for myself.
When WFH, everything is home and everything is work. My commute is 1.5 meters long. But there’s no downtime between work and home, talking to colleagues and talking to roommates.
I learned to balance that, finding time for myself and actually using it as I wanted, versus being forced to by the commute (and then only doing stuff I could do while on the Tube). That ended up pretty well (beyond the tan), I managed to publish stuff I wanted to, got featured on Medium and discovered London by its streets and corners, not just by its Tube stations.
I’ve rediscovered my family and my wife. I’m now not just someone who walks in of an evening but someone they see throughout the day. Making moments during the day that just wouldn’t exist if I were in the office. I’ve loved WFH, it’s quiet, there is no distraction and I feel like I’m in control. I do miss some things though.
WFH has given me time, and in my world, time is my most precious commodity. I used to lose 3 hours a day commuting. That extra time has allowed me to be around for things I wouldn’t usually have the luxury of being part of, it’s created better habits - my working day usually starts or ends with a run now. I feel better at life, but as a consequence, I am a little more distanced from relationships with friends and colleagues and it's taking time to adjust and bring those things back into a different routine that I have become accustomed to.
I never rented my home on the basis of having to work here for sustained periods so space is an issue. Work is also very much about the work. Video conferencing has made things that were quick chats into calls. I have more freedom but I also crave the spark of others together in a place.
We haven’t quite figured out our return to the office, or how we’ll use spaces like Folgate Street in future. The nice thing is, there’s no pressure or urgency, not like there was at the start of the remote transition.
Over the next few months, we’ll take time to consult the business and, while remaining flexible, establish new ways of working to ensure the team is enabled to do great work, no matter their location, and importantly, feel a firm part of the Foolproof community.