The WFH Diaries - Carrie Barker at the projects

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 23 September 2021
Carrie Barker

AdNews last year launched the WFH Diaries during the depths of the fallout from the pandemic, a way of sharing how people managed their days.

This time, with lockdown running again, we're asking for a run down on how everyone likes to start their day working from home. Some dress to impress, others slip on the t-shirt. And everyone has their own way to carve the day into manageable chunks.

Carrie Barker, the projects* partner and managing director.

How do you deal with the silence?
I love the peace and quiet of being the only one at home during the day. If I'm in need of human contact I’ll pop out for a coffee or walk around the block.

The good of working from home?
I've always tried to work from home one day a week as I'm at my most productive when I’m not distracted. I find I have more clarity in my thinking as well as focus in execution, meaning that I'm far more efficient. On the softer side I’m loving saving a massive six hours a week commuting and not incurring frequent parking tickets (I think I've personally paid for a ward at St Vinny’s hospital through 10 years of Paddington fines). I also make the most of doing small household chores that used to mount up for the weekend, as well as saving time wearing my, what is known in fashion as a 'capsule wardrobe’, rotating between leggings, trackies, jeans, and five tops!! Sorry for your loss, dry cleaners…

The bad?
Like everyone I miss the fun, energy and banter of being with the team keeping up with: gossip, what’s happening in culture - as well as hearing about good Netflix shows that aren’t in my algorithm. I crave South Dowling salads (not for the diet minded!). As someone who is adventure-driven, I find it hard to focus on the more ‘mundane’ aspects of owning a business without an impending deadline e.g tax, BAS, admin etc. Worst of all is seeing myself on Zoom every day - an opportunity to focus on the bags, sags and grey hairs (it’s ironic that I've spent my career coaching women to focus on their good points!)

Tips for making WFH work?
This is a real passion of mine, as I do a lot of coaching around work-life balance. It’s important to make WFH work for you particularly for those in corporate jobs who seem to be in endless Zoom meetings. My tips are:

  • Make the best of your work environment and make it an area you want to spend time in ( I use my spare bedroom so I know that I'm lucky to have a separate space). Brighten up the space as much as possible using flowers or plants (which I transfer from the lounge to my office every day), light scented candles, use a beautiful cup and saucer and keep your work area clutter free. If you work from the kitchen, clean the kitchen before you start work to have a clear mind.
  • Start the day with fresh air and exercise - even if it’s just walking for a coffee, or a 10 minute internet work out. It's energy boosting and helps the brain’s perception that you're not sitting at your desk all day. I've started to log my work hours, which has been really interesting and enabled me to not feel guilty when I'm taking a break. I set myself timed challenges with associated treats, so if I work for 1.5 hours I'm able to go for a coffee, if I work for another 1.5 hours I can go outside for a 10 min break or sit in the sun - find what works for you.
  • Making meetings work for you. Question if you need to be in every meeting? Does it need to be a Zoom or can it be a phone call? We've become obsessed with being able to see each other but sometimes a simple phone meeting is best. My best tip which I've been following since making it a New Year’s resolution in 2019 is if you know that you don’t need to be in front of your screen when you have a meeting make it a phoner, go outside and walk and talk. I keep my shoes by the door, put them on as soon as the phone rings and walk around the block - it’s amazing my block is 2000 steps and I often make two laps when talking. If you need a particular point noted either ask for it to be sent by email or make a note on your phone. I encourage you to try this today. It really works and also gets your steps up.
  • I also recommend changing the location of where you work during the course of the day. If reading a document - sit on your bed - can you take a Zoom outside? When out of lockdown I take my laptop to the cafe.
  • Make time for you. Take breaks when you can. I try to have 1 or 2 booked lunch/early evening walks every week with clients/team or friends in addition to my own exercise - this forces me to commit and energises me for the rest of the day.

I’m looking forward to getting back to the office…
Our lease came up for renewal earlier in the year and I didn’t renew it after 10 years as we're going to try a new flexible approach to working that I think will suit everyone. Working from home part of the week and then from a co-share workplace/meeting space/each other’s houses the rest. I feel this will provide the best of both worlds for an experienced team - so let’s see how it works.

Any other comments?
My tips for making group Zoom meetings work for YOU are (the projects* have been on Zoom for over six years now): turn off your screen, keep listening, take a pen and pad with you for notes but meanwhile get stuff done by: 1. sorting out the washing 2. doing the ironing. 3. load and unload the dishwasher 4. My favourite tip which I have now perfected even with the screen on is…. painting my nails (when else do you have time for them to dry?). All of this multi tasking definitely helps with life admin!
Finally if I’d thought a couple of years ago that I'd have a picture in AdNews wearing my UGGs I would have died - is that what they call unfiltered??? Have a great WFH week everyone.

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