Kirsty McLuckie: When you’re home working to distraction

There are many advantages to working from home, as a great proportion of previously office-based workers have discovered of late.

Illustration: UltraViolet / Shutterstock

There’s the financial savings of the shortest possible commute and the ability to eat last night’s leftovers for lunch without having to plan ahead or pop to the shops.

Your working wardrobe no longer has to be appropriate, ironed or even clean. No-one can see your aged trackie bottoms or carpet slippers on a Zoom call.

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And, for those with kids and pets, there is also a saving if you had to find someone to care for them while you were at work.

But there are also disadvantages and distractions.

I’ve been working at home for some years now, and while I have settled into a routine, some things never change and I’ve just learnt to live with them.

In my rural location, the wifi isn’t great, and you have to manage to work round it. My day is punctuated by tea breaks necessitated by the long minutes it takes to down or upload large files. Not something my office-based colleagues need to worry about.

Nor, presumably, do they live in fear of power cuts, wifi outages or the phoneline being brought down in a storm, as there is a whole IT department poised to fix any problems.

While it is useful to be always in for deliveries, you do find that friends and family are wont to pop in unannounced just at the wrong moment, just on the off-chance of a walk or a cup of tea.

Mid-phone interview, I clock them walking up the path and frantically try and wave them away before the dog hears them and decides to bark, adding to the air of general chaos and unprofessionalism.

But in the past six weeks, I have been driven mad by a new distraction.

Just opposite our house is a tranche of forestry which is ready for the chop. We have long been used to the sound of chainsaws around the village as trees are taken out, and we are always mindful when driving the single-track roads that around the next bend might be another huge logging truck.

But this particular slice of forestry apparently requires a road constructing to access it, and for the last month and a half, a monster machine has been quarrying stone from a rock face in our glen.

The noise is deafening, exacerbated – we think – by the topography. We are at the head of the glen and the constant thuds seem to be focused and amplified in a kind of aural warfare which goes on from seven in the morning to seven at night, with bright lights illuminating the whole hillside.

While working from the office would mean a long commute for me, and involve city noises of its own, I am starting to think that if this carries on, it would be a relief.

I’m not the worst affected, however. Friends who live closer to the cacophony were thinking of putting their house on the market this autumn, but with such a feature on their doorstep, they have had to put off marketing till spring.

Their property has beautiful views and is just the kind of place for a buyer wanting to escape the noise and confusion of the city. Just not at the moment.

- Kirsty McLuckie is property editor at The Scotsman