Today we’re joined by Andrea and Dhani, who are both Solicitors working at Spencer Shaw Solicitors, to see how they have adjusted to working from home full-time amid the coronavirus outbreak. Dhani Uppal is an Associate Solicitor specialising in Debt and Civil Service law, and Andrea Price is an Associate Solicitor specialising in Employment law. They both joined Spencer Shaw Solicitors towards the back end of 2019.
When were you asked to start working from home and how are you getting on with it so far?
Dhani: “I’ve been working from home since I started in October. However, I didn’t have children at home at the time as they were either being looked after by mother in law or at nursery. Now I have 2 children at home and a mother in law who is stranded abroad indefinitely! It is a little harder to focus but keeping them entertained with crafts, creative play and Peppa Pig is helping.“
Andrea: “I previously worked from home one day a week, but began working from home every day when the lockdown was announced. When I worked from home once a week I would work at the dining table, but now I have set up a permanent office in a spare room. Having an office space feels more like being in the office.”
Have you worked from home before while working for Spencer Shaw?
Andrea: “Yes but only one day per week.“
Dhani: “Yes, I used to work from home four days a week, with one day in the office. I also worked from home with my previous employer.“
How have you found the transition to working from home full time?
Dhani: “I’d be lying if I said I’m finding it easy, especially with 2 children. Everyday has a different challenge! Creating a routine and having a specified workspace are both helping.“
Andrea: “Ok so far, although it hasn’t been long since I began working at home full time.“
There are some legal firms out there who are still reluctant to embrace working from home for their employees. Do you think the Covid-19 outbreak will change this outlook?
Andrea: “I think it will, although they should have considered this before the Covid-19 outbreak to provide flexible working to their staff.“
Dhani: “I hope so. Companies will see that it is possible for solicitors to work from home and be just as productive. One of the things that attracted me to Spencer Shaw Solicitors was how flexible the company is and how supportive of work/life balance. Offering flexibility where possible will help legal firms attract new employees and provide the best service.“
Do you have any family who are home with you at the moment? How are you coping working at home while they’re there?
Dhani: “I have two young children. It is challenging. My concentration is breaking more often, especially when they cry because they need me.“
Andrea: “No I am all alone.“
It can be frustrating to going from working in a buzzing office to feeling quite lonely at home – how are you coping with this currently?
Andrea: “I speak to team members via video call – something I was reluctant to do in the past but it’s a God send!”
Dhani: “More FaceTime calls with friends and family are helping me feel connected.“
Do you have any tips for anyone feeling particularly lonely while working from home at the moment?
Dhani: “Pick up the phone and talk to someone, even if it’s about the weather!“
Andrea: “Try to avoid everything being done via email – pick up the phone or call via video conference/Skype. You need to maintain that interaction with colleagues. Also, take a break away from your workspace during the day.”
What would you say to lawyers who are finding it difficult to be productive at this time?
Andrea: “Focus your mind. It is just a different location. You can be just as productive from home, probably more so as there are less interruptions.“
Dhani: “It takes time to adjust but each day gets easier. Routine helps and so do regular breaks.“
What would you say to anyone who is struggling to stay positive in these uncertain times?
Dhani: “Talk to someone about how you are feeling because you’re not alone.”
Andrea: “Try to focus on the ways you are lucky. There are so many people around the World who are not as fortunate to be healthy and have the ability to carry on working.”
Many people have already lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. What would you say to those people now looking for work who may need tips on looking for work?
Andrea: “With the Furlough scheme set up by the Government, if they were made redundant they may be able to be re-employed and receive 80% of their salary, if their employer is willing to do so. It will be hard for people looking for work but not impossible. If roles are advertised offer to meet via the telephone/Skype/video conferencing. Also, research temporary work as, with so many people having to self-isolate, employers may be taking on temporary staff to see them over this difficult time. It may even lead to a permanent role in the future.“
Dhani: “The market will pick up once we get through this, stay positive and don’t give up!“
Finally, would you like to add anything else that might bring some comfort to anyone struggling in this current situation?
Dhani: “These measures have been implemented to stop the spread of this virus and keep us safe, it can only be a positive thing.“
Andrea: “Talk to people. Go out for a walk wherever safe to do so (ensuring 2 metres between people) or follow a workout online. Do something around the house that you have been meaning to do for ages but just haven’t got around to; declutter your drawers and cubby holes, sort out clothes for the charity shops, and such. You’ll feel a sense of achievement, and at least be making the most of the time.“