Where I Work: Josie, the journalist working from her parents’ house in lockdownMay 1, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed our working lives.
While some have lost work or been furloughed, others are radically adjusting the way they work, taking equipment home and figuring out how best to get stuff done remotely.
Our mini series, Where I Work, is exploring people’s work-from-home setups as this becomes the norm.
We’ve seen an office on a houseboat, a snazzy garden studio, and a jewellery shed.
This time we’re taking a look at what working from home is like for Josie Copson, 26, a journalist at OK! magazine who’s working from her parents’ home during lockdown.
Hey, Josie! How did you end up working at your parents’ house in lockdown?
I moved to London when I was 21 and live with two friends in Tooting Bec. I had booked a week’s holiday to come home so packed my case on Friday morning.
I was told on the afternoon that I would now be working from home so didn’t really have enough in my case when I got on the train that evening. I didn’t get to return to my flat as I wanted to make the early train.
If I’d have known then I would have packed a lot more tracksuits or ‘chill chill’ clothes as my family refer to them. I’m currently staying at my parents’ house in a small village on the outskirts of Birmingham.
How are you finding the experience of working from home?
I rarely work from home apart from the occasional day when I’ve had to transcribe long interviews, so this has been quite the experience.
I used to be very jealous of people, who got to do it regularly. Now I have a new respect for them because staying focused with so many distractions, including a very talkative mum, is difficult!
What are your personal rules for working from home?
I try to stick to just one area of my bedroom. I don’t want to feel like my whole home is now an office. When I enter that space it’s work time.
I haven’t gone anywhere near it outside the 9:30-5:30pm window. Anywhere near is actually exaggeration as I can touch the desk from my bed with minimal effort. I could probably touch the chair if I really stretched
I definitely think having a shower is important, and not just because of all the video meetings I’m having. It puts you in the right mindset. However, I draw the line at putting on actual work clothes. Chill chills for the win. The photos I took for this article are definitely the most dressed up I’ve been so far. I didn’t dress up for the photos, sadly it was just a case of all my loungewear being in the wash. I have since ordered a Nike outfit from ASOS and an overpriced woolen set from Next so hopefully that issue won’t occur again.
I am enjoying not having to wear makeup or wash my hair. I actually took out my hair extensions for the first time in a decade, because if there was ever a time to give my natural hair a break it’s now.
I did say to my mum that I’m going to put makeup on once a week because I’m worried I’ll forget how to do it otherwise. She said that I was being silly and it was just like driving a car. But I’ve got back in a car after a year away and it was not easy!
Talk us through your working space
Luckily over the past year I’ve got really into home stuff and have been ordering lots of furniture and decorations for the house I’ll one day hopefully own. My bedroom at home has become somewhat of a warehouse.
My friend at work actually pointed out to me recently that I might have a shopping addiction. Since she said that I have noticed that I do have a bit of a problem. I buy something almost every day and then wonder why I never have any money.
Anyway, the pink armchair was a birthday present from my parents, the pink throw is from Primark and the desk has been around a while.
The James Bond canvas that hangs behind me is from Home Sense. I’m a huge fan of the films, and I was very gutted that its release got delayed because of the virus. My dad and I had already planned a whole weekend in London around it as we always go see them together. I am trying to remain positive though and think everything is postponed, rather than cancelled – this is just a weird blip!
The only thing I have on my desk is a gold lamp from Next because there isn’t much extra space once my laptop is on there too. I haven’t actually switched the lamp on yet. It’s more for decorative purposes.
The mirror that sits on the floor belonged to my Grandad Gripper, who sadly passed away when I was at high school. My mum (who is now my colleague – she takes the kitchen, I’m in the bedroom but as I am a keen snacker we see each other a lot) and I were having a discussion about who should take ownership of it as we both love it. A perfectly stable frame dropped on the floor while we were chatting about it, which I think was a sign from him. Although I can’t work out who he wants to have it!
What’s a working day like for you?
I wake up at 8am and do an eye mask – I have watery eyes and it helps a lot with that. I then do 10 minutes of French lessons on Dualingo (I’ve never been so committed – I actually added basic French to my CV this week) and make myself a bowl of porridge. I then take a shower and be sat in my ‘office’ by 9:30am. I think it’s important to have that time in the morning doing things that are just for me.
I’ll then go through different news sites, magazines, newspapers and social media to look for potential feature ideas. I’ll send them to my line manager and we’ll then all jump on a call to discuss which ones to follow up.
I’ll go through my emails, and then get started on whatever needs to be done for that week’s issues, stopping for a break between 1pm and 2pm. I’ll often have interviews with celebrities so I spend time researching questions, conducting the chat, transcribing and then making into a feature.
I will get back on a call with my colleagues at 3pm to discuss what we’ve all done that day, and what else needs doing. At 5:30pm I send a list of the tasks I’ve completed and my plans for the following day before clocking off.
What advice do you have for people new to working from home?
Don’t worry if you feel like you’re being slower than usual because it just takes a few days to get used to.
Make sure you keep as much of a structure in place as possible. When I was in the office I always made sure I took an hour for lunch, and I’ve been doing that at home too. I’ve been FaceTiming my friends so we can eat together, which brings a small slice of normality to the day.