Where I Work: Joanne, who launched a new eco-friendly business amid the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has changed what work looks like.

While some people have been furloughed or lost work, others are viewing their career in a new way, while some adjust to working from home.

Our series, Where I Work, is exploring how people get stuff done outside of a traditional office.

We’ve chatted to a writer working on a houseboat, met a barefoot athlete with no chairs in his home, and seen inside a jewellery designer’s office in a shed.

Today we’re chatting to Joanne Maclachlan, who launched a new business just five days before lockdown measures came into place.

Joanne, 32, is the founder of The Eco Friendly Living Co, an online store selling plastic-free household goods and personal care products.

She’s working from her home in Wheelton with her husband, who is currently furloughed, and their Labrador, Bobby.

Hi, Joanne! You launched a business amid a pandemic… how has that affected things?

I launched the business just five days before the UK went into lockdown! 

I had been working on the website since the beginning of the year with the aim of having everything ready for the end of March. I was ready to launch around mid-March but as the pandemic worsened I started to debate on whether I should delay launching the business.

I figured now more than ever was the perfect time to shout about what we do so I launched one week early!

I am hoping that one day I may have a small unit as our business and therefore stock levels have grown so much but for now everything is based at home.

Talk us through your working space

My working area is the top floor of our house, which also happens to be the spare room.

In one corner of the room is a single bed and on the other side is my desk under one of the velux windows.

The room is a bit of a weird shape as it’s a converted attic space so there’s no photos or décor on the walls but we are lucky enough to have an amazing view from the top floor. If I need a bit of a lift I quite often just open the window and stick my head out – I’m a sucker for a good view and fresh air!

The rest of the room is taken up with stock, which is all on shelving that I have reused from my old wedding décor business and an old desk that I use for packing up orders.

What’s a working day like?

I’m generally showered, ready and at my desk with breakfast by 9am. I always have the intention to do exercise first thing but this only actually happens maybe twice a week!

Once I’m in my workplace I first pack up all orders that have come in overnight then I’m generally on to emails, uploading new products, writing blogs or tweaking the website.

I nip out to the Post Office at 2pm so will pack up any last minute orders beforehand.

When I’m back from the Post Office is the time I tend to get easily distracted so I will finish and pick things back up again around 7pm for an hour.

What’s it like working from home? Do you find it difficult?

One of the reasons I have always enjoyed working from home is so that I am around more for our dog as I get major dog guilt!

Working from home also gives you more freedom so that if I need to nip out to an appointment or I fancy a dog walk, then I can nip out and pick things back up again later.

One of the downsides to working from home on your own is the lack of communication with others. I definitely miss working in a team so hopefully I will get back to that point one day. For now, I just chew my husband’s ear off – unfortunately for him!

What are your personal rules for working from home? How do you stay focused?

I’ve been self-employed running my own businesses for nine years and I always manage to stay focused until about mid afternoon, when the 3pm lag hits! Up until that point I tend to get so wrapped up in what I am doing and how much there is to do that focus isn’t really a problem.

At 3pm I tend to stop working and switch things up by either walking the dog or doing some jobs around the house and then picking a couple of things back up after tea.

However, since my husband has been on furlough and the weather has been so beautiful, my focus has lagged a bit and I find myself drifting out to the garden or going on a long dog walk with my husband. Luckily a lot of the website and orders can be managed for my phone so I can pick up a lot of the work wherever I happen to be.

What advice do you have for people new to working from home?

Get ready as if you’re actually leaving the house for work. Get out of the PJs, get showered and eat breakfast.

Quite often I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing that I forget to actually eat lunch till mid-afternoon and end up just grabbing something quick so having a good breakfast is important.

Do you have a home-working setup you fancy sharing? Get in touch by emailing [email protected] to get involved in Where I Work.

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