WFH – lockdown reflections

With some Scottish lockdown measures being relaxed this week after almost three months – I have read so many articles about people motivated to change their life priorities. For some, this has been an opportunity to have a taste of what life could be away from the hurly-burly of suburbia. I wonder how many will keep to their new life promises and up sticks.

We decided to make this life change more than four years ago and moved to the West Coast of Scotland – in what friends at the time called our “Skyfall” – after Bond escapes to his childhood home in a remote Scottish glen.

A tranquil West Coast

Others feared we were “retiring” and could never combine living “remotely” and work “internationally”.

The irony of how many aspire to be in the countryside now and WFH is not lost on us.

It was exactly the right move at the right time – but we work hard to make it work for us as a family. The small village we live in has been a welcome sanctuary after our travels abroad. We are so lucky to have this perfect environment to recharge our batteries.

Whilst we are fairly isolated in UK terms – with our nearest supermarket and petrol station being more than 30 minutes away – it is so nice to have the sense of being away from the hustle and bustle.

Our secluded village

Being in a small village – community spirit and looking out for each other are important. This has been magnified during lockdown and we have ensured prescriptions and food were collected for those more vulnerable and our village shop remained open – proving to be a hub for a socially distanced catchup. The pub opens up in a week and not a moment too late!

With lockdown forcing the closure of the village school, teaching the boys as well as working, has added another interesting challenge. I can’t say the home classroom has been all smooth sailing – far from it. To be honest it has felt a bit like taking my driving test again – trying to remember all the fundamentals but unfortunately teaching them all the bad tips! Thank goodness the school asked for a project on the RAF – an excuse for offering my consultancy services to supervise the boys build of a model airfield!

The finished airfield

Seeing our boys thrive in this country paradise and getting closer to nature has been a sheer joy. Lockdown has also seen this Eden flourish with orca sightings, playful red squirrels and badger watching.

Photo by my eldest of Scotland’s largest predator!

We have escaped anybody contracting the virus – but with an older demographic the impact would be devastating in our village. The concerns for next winter are real as we see the tragedy of lives lost in the U.K. and around the world. The resolve of our health and essential workers has been amazing and we owe them a great debt.

For work during lockdown I was fortunate to have my office tucked away in a shepherd’s hut in our orchard – equipped with all I need – as a sort of mini studio to record and draft. The orchard was an overgrown bothy tip when we moved in. With two back breaking winters of digging to churn out the bracken and remove hundreds of broken bottles and obelisk sized stones – the orchard is now a perfect environment for a break to reawaken the senses. I often pop out of the hut to weed the veggie patch (in the eight raised beds built during lockdown!) or check out if the fruit is ripe for picking. I have to say taking a break in the garden has been a perfect way to divert and relax the mind – before getting on with the hard graft.

The shepherd’s hut in the orchard

Home working requires discipline and it’s not for everyone. You are the boss and temptations are everywhere to stop the task ahead. With our WFH setup already in place, lockdown has been a productive time – with several drafts of guidebooks completed and a number of online training sessions delivered.

Lockdown has enabled many to change perspectives, for me it has reinforced that WFH is a perfect reality – I wonder how many will take the leap of faith and keep to their lockdown resolutions? I suspect many will just get back to their old normal – opportunity lost I say.

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