Our mini series Where I Work is exploring the reality of working from home – as more of us adapt to remote-working due to the coronavirus pandemic.
We’ve seen an interior designer’s home office and nosed around a writer’s working space on a houseboat.
This time we’re chatting with Ellie – also known as Posture Ellie – a postural alignment therapist.
Ellie, 31, works to help her clients improve their range of movement and get their bodies working better to reduce chronic pain.
Since lockdown began she’s been offering online workshops from her home in Worcester.
Hey, Ellie! Where are you working during lockdown?
I live with my boyfriend. I recently moved into his house but I have certainly put my stamp on it with things like two cats, cushions, candles, artwork and plants … none of these things would be in the house without me, that’s for sure!
I had sold my house and bought a campervan, ready for us to adventure across Scotland and Europe together this summer… clearly that hasn’t happened as we were supposed to be leaving in March.
I currently work on the floor from our lounge. Once Covid-19 hit we cleared out all our lounge furniture and put it all in the garage. This was to create as much space to encourage movement as possible.
I sit on the floor, I lay prone on the floor, I sit on bolsters, sometimes I lie on a sun lounger outside… I mix up my position as much as I can and try and keep out of chairs as much as possible. I barely sit in chairs actually.
The lounge is fairly neutral but I have put some plants in the corners so visually my online classes and appointments look more aesthetically pleasing!
Has coronavirus been responsible for you doing more online work?
I have always offered video one-to-one appointments ever since I started this job but most of my business before Covid was from my clinic in Worcester, with local clients. It was always my intention to push the digital side of business more so as to attract a wider geographical client base. I was a bit conscious I was gaining a local reputation when actually, my location doesn’t matter at all.
My plan for whilst I was travelling was to get my business entirely digital as I have always wanted the freedom to travel as much as possible, now it’s happened a bit sooner than planned! I have actually handed in my notice for my clinic.
What’s a working day in lockdown like?
It does depend really, as sometimes I might have three one-to-one clients and then my day is pretty much gone (an appointment generates probably about 45 mins of extra work on top of the 1.5hr appointment itself).
Other days I might have no clients and I’ll get lost in a vortex of admin, emails and lesson planning for one of my classes/corporate workshops.
Yesterday I did emails and admin from 7am – 9am, then did a two-hour yoga class, then I was doing emails and lesson planning before a client at 4pm, then another one-hour yoga class later! I don’t normally do that much yoga but I am trying to prioritise it as I can feel myself stiffening up.
Have you found working from home challenging?
I really haven’t minded working from home at all, actually. While the whole Covid situation is horrendous and scary, if it was just me working at home because I chose to… I quite like it!
My cats are extremely annoying occasionally (especially due to my penchant for being on the floor) as is my boyfriend (who likes to do handstands and play hockey inside our small lounge).
The biggest challenge is probably patchy Wi-Fi/Zoom meetings when you are totally dependent on it.
I don’t really have an issue with focus. All I know is that I never want to work for anyone else ever again or ever be as unhappy as I was in previous jobs – this gives me the drive I need to keep me on track.
I really hit rock bottom at one point and I won’t allow myself to go back there. I also genuinely get so excited about my work that it is very easy for me to lose track of time and the day is over before I know it.
How do you look after yourself and separate work time from rest and relaxation? It can be a struggle when your home is your office.
I guess I eat fairly well (although I am nicknamed The Crisp Monster… I really love crisps), I do yoga, I walk every day and I prioritise sleep (I don’t go to bed after 10pm unless I am out ‘on the town’).
I find it extremely hard to switch off work mode and I definitely don’t prioritise relaxation enough. I find it very hard to ‘not be productive’ – which is totally counter-productive, I know.
I am fully aware of the dangerous physical and mental effects of not switching off and yet this is hands down the hardest thing for me to wrestle with.
How are you doing mentally in lockdown?
I was fine until last week. I am good at burying my hand in the sand so I don’t have to face up to reality and my feelings. I realised last week that I hadn’t had a day off work for more than six weeks (probably my coping mechanism) and was feeling pretty frazzled. Then I felt guilty for feeling frazzled by work when I know I am so lucky that my business hasn’t been affected by Covid.
After a weekend of reading a really crap fiction book, going for a long walk and only checking my emails a few times, I am fine again. I am very lucky to have a roof over my head, a lovely boyfriend to be ‘trapped with’ and to have my health intact. I desperately want to get away in the campervan, annoy my Mum in-person and buy a White Americano from a coffee shop, but that’s not an option right now so there’s probably not too much point in thinking like that.
I try not to dwell on the things that are out of my control and work on what I can control. This puts the power back in my hands, rather than BoJo’s!
What advice do you have for people new to working from home?
Perhaps not strictly ‘working from home’ advice, but I remember struggling with loneliness when I first left the corporate world. I can imagine others feeling the same at the moment.
It was weird going from packed trains, a city centre and a busting office space to being in a small room with one other person, with a new and not very busy business. I had to have a firm word with myself that this is what I had chosen to do and this was a side effect of it.
Obviously people working from home due to Covid don’t have a choice, but I tried to focus on the positives (no commute, no office politics, no temptation to spend money on lunch-breaks) rather than the negatives.
I think humans are incredibly adaptable if they embrace change. This is our ‘new normal’ (whether we like it or not) and it’ll be more bearable if we don’t try and fight it.