WFH Becomes the LAW


Working from home (referred to as WFH, as every bloody thing seemingly has to have an acronym to make it relevant nowadays), is the latest employment phenomenon brought about by the fear surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic. Of course, many people have been WFH'ing for years - online travel agents, many self employed accountants, IT professionals, and those overly made-up women who run MLM pyramid schemes disguised as posh-cosmetic companies. Offices with hundreds or thousands of occupants are quickly becoming irrelevant, as employers and employees realise that a 3 hour return commute, and £15 a day on a 30 minute lunch isn't the be-all and end-all. Almost all the work I've been doing in the last 3 months has been in homes hastily converted into workplaces for the time being - kitchen tables, spare bedrooms, and dedicated study rooms have been utilised, along with workstations, monitors, and cables which tend to look a bit out of place in a domestic setting, and certainly look out of place in my property marketing shots. Working from home may seem like a great idea, but after the initial novelty has worn off, or if the home environment isn't ideal for such arrangements (the presence of children basically), it can turn from WFH to LAW (Living at work). My workday combines the trial of long-distance vehicular commuting, periods of time in residential properties wrapped in plastic (that's me - not the properties), and  extended hours sat in a cupboard under the stairs editing images for output. My day now consists of a morning 25 mile drive - dropping 2 children at different schools, driving somewhere else to photograph whatever I'm doing that day, driving back to the 2 different schools in the late afternoon, sorting their tea out, then a 4-5 hour session in front of the Mac pictured above. My Saturday/Sunday generally involves more work, with the omission of the school runs. I can't imagine sitting in front of the computer for 8-10 hours every weekday, and I'd actually rather ensure some freedom, work 7 days a week, and die from exposure to the old Covid's than endure the monotony of being stuck in my home like a drone for 5 days a week. I have no idea how these executive types manage with young kids in the house - doing Zoom calls and the like. 

So - the school holidays are finally over, and the poor nippers are starting to get back to a school routine. I've got one who's excited, and enthused about the return, and one who would do anything to stay at home and watch gameplay video clips 18 hours a day. Time will tell what sort of effect the last 5 months have had on them, but for the time being it's a step forward. My wife, who works at a local secondary, was a bit horrified at the total lack of preparation of any sort when she went back to the "teacher training day" yesterday. It's a unique situation for everybody, so again, it's a case of just getting on with things.

This old boy has been to the Doctor for his 6-monthly diabetic blood test, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that my HbA1C diabetic control figure (see diagram above for a historical view - target is about 50) was hugely improved, due largely to a regime of low-carb eating, & intermittent fasting. Unfortunately, my blood pressure was unusually high, so I'm scheduled for a follow-up next week for that. In the meantime, I'm eliminating caffeine, doing a bit of extra jogging (subject to knee health), trying to cut salt intake, and swapping the fat from meat to the fat in olives/avocados/nuts etc. The caffeine withdrawal is hitting me as I type - headache, a slight shaking of the hands, and fuzziness. I've had it before, so it can't be mistaken for anything else. Blood pressure medication is among the worst in terms of side-effects - depression mainly, and I just can't afford to be suffering from that when I need to work almost every day of my life with a degree of enthusiasm.

The summer holidays have been absolutely ram-packed with some of the nicest residential properties that I've ever shot, and some of the nicest people. Last weekend I shot a gigantic, seven bedroomed mansion valued at £2.25m on the Ramside Park development in County Durham, and the owners made me feel like my job was actually worth doing. The dude of the family has a company which deals with commercial property, and the revenues have obviously taken a battering of late. In response to this, he's allocated a considerable amount of empty commercial space to house the homeless of Newcastle in partnership with some of the local charities. Quite an inspiring guy, and made me question my cynical view of the property industry in general. I've never had any jealousy towards those who are successful, and who earn the trappings of wealth - just those who lord it over us using inherited wealth as a weapon. Yes Johnson....I'm talking about the likes of you. 

With the intensity of work commitments recently, my gear has been taking a total battering. The relentless use of all the kit on location has meant a constant stream of damages, losses, and replacements - costing a fortune. Even a Nikon body cap - essentially a round piece of plastic - can cost £30 to replace, which is frankly ridiculous. The latest accidental damage was a simple, but specialist right angled USB cable which connects my remote control Camranger device to the camera. It's a small, but absolutely essential bit of kit, and it got in the way of the seal of my Pelican 1510 case as it was being closed - resulting in the USB plug getting crushed. My other cables have all started to loosen in their respective openings, my 24-70mm pro lens seems to have lost it's sharpness and contrast (interior mould perhaps?), and my £400 Camranger 2 has fallen apart. My 9 year old, top-end iMac is now seriously beginning to lose touch with the software required on it, and six of the 10 flash guns I use have to be held together with clamps and duct tape as the battery chambers spring open without warning. All my rechargeable batteries need replacing, the geared head on my daily-use carbon-fibre tripod is failing, and jamming regularly, and the list goes on. The integrity of equipment is essential, but replacing anything major is out of the question at the moment. The joys.

Residential property instructions seem to have slowed down after the deluge during June, July and August. I'm hoping that my retrospective invoices will begin to be paid, and I can take a bit of time out. A 7-day working week doesn't do you any good physically or mentally, and the days without physical jobs are almost always taken up with queries, email responses, and catching up on editing or other business-related activities. All work and no-play makes Jack a dull boy.

Take care, get out there safely to keep Pret A Manger going, and I'll see you next time.

Brian Young shoots all aspects of the built environment for a range of clients throughout Northern England and the Borders.


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