I actually made it into work this morning, despite St Jude’s Biblical storm wreaking havoc on the nation’s wheelie bins and patio furniture. In fact, I have a history of this: years ago, in the Great Snow Day of 2009, I was one of about four people who made it into thelondonpaper’s Wapping offices, trudging through the blizzard like a young Shackleton, beard and eyebrows rimed with frost, the last of the huskies dying of exhaustion at St Katharine Docks.
Nonetheless, I am aware that I am one of the lucky ones. Thousands – millions – will have been trapped in their homes by dangerous flying leaves and polythene bags, separated from beloved co-workers by the suspended services on mainline rail. As a veteran of many months of “working from home”, at an earlier stage of my life, I want to take this opportunity to offer these unfortunates my accumulated wisdom.
1) Treat it like a place of work. Your bedroom or kitchen table is now your office. You need strict rules if you are going to maintain the high standards of professionalism your employers require. Set your alarm for 10.30am on the dot. Maximise productivity by limiting your daytime telly intake to Jeremy Kyle, Loose Women, Doctors and Pointless.
2) Maintain high standards of personal appearance. If you look slovenly and feel slovenly, you’ll be slovenly. Absolutely no nudity after lunch. Your dressing gown should remain belted at all times. If for any reason you have to leave the house, trousers are a must and underpants are strongly recommended.
3) It’s easy to get into bad habits; guard against them vigilantly. Remember to close the door when you use the toilet. Only pick your nose and eat it if you are sure no one can see you. And remember the nudity rule. If you let these habits slip, it can become profoundly embarrassing when you return to the office.
4) With no boss breathing down your neck, it can be easy to let your workrate slip. Avoid this from happening by periodically shouting at yourself in the living-room mirror for no discernible reason. Then nod bravely at yourself and slope off to the toilet for a quiet cry.
5) If, when you tell people that you are working from home, one of them starts to make reference to the Mitchell and Webb sketch on the subject, it is important that you silence them immediately, with violence if necessary. You do NOT want that sort of rumour to spread. And keep your hands where we can see ’em, mister.