I used to love nothing more than getting home from work and sitting down to binge a few episodes of the latest TV boxset. I was a certified television addict, and it was my way to relax.
That was in the good old days before the pandemic. We were all still running the rat race and commuting for miles every day. Despite the obvious drawbacks (cost, delays, a lack of personal space while standing uncomfortably close to complete strangers with poor personal hygiene), it did at least provide a valuable chance to unwind and decompress, both before and after work.
But now, after sitting at a computer screen for 10 hours a day while working from home, I can’t think of anything worse. I’m watching HBO’s Boardwalk Empire at the moment (no spoilers please) and while it’s unarguably brilliant, I must admit it feels a bit like a chore.
I can feel my eyes turning square, my muscles wilting and my brain turning to mush.
This creates an inevitable daily clash with my partner, who is a teacher. When she gets home, I feel like one of those pathetic little puppies with separation issues, waiting eagerly and impatiently by the front door. At last, a real-life human being to talk to!
“I’ve got the office chair, the second monitor, the separate mouse and keyboard; so all of the gear and no idea, you could say. I can only imagine the daily struggle for those with nothing but a laptop.”
Teaching was one of the few professions that went pretty much back to normal post-pandemic, and she is understandably eager to relax when she gets home from a difficult day at work.
I, on the other hand, am full of energy and desperate to get out, having spent most of the day slumped forward in my home office – which I acknowledge I am very fortunate to have.
I’ve got the office chair, the second monitor, the separate mouse and keyboard; so all of the gear and no idea, you could say. I can only imagine the daily struggle for those with nothing but a laptop.
Our wrists, fingers and thumbs can’t be too far off evolving, what with the screen time most of us rack up on our iPhones, iPads and laptops these days (other brands are available).
I should clarify that this is not a cry for help. Many will say that I am simply doing it wrong, and they are probably right. Instead of sitting at a computer all day, I should get out and see the natural world in all its glory. I’ll confess I have fantasised about that more than once.
Imagine rearing billy goats on a green and grassy smallholding where the only thing to worry about each week is how many eggs your chickens are going to lay. There is a real romance to this vision, but in reality, there are also plenty of pitfalls. And most of them stem from loneliness.
Earlier this month, a survey of more than 900 farmers found that 94% of UK farmers under the age of 40 believe that poor mental health is the greatest hidden challenge of their industry.
Many longed for market day as it provided the chance to catch up with like-minded people amid the hustle and bustle of a cattle auction before a slap-up meal in the café or canteen. In iGaming, many of us must now wait for a trade show to come around before being able to do similar.
It would be difficult to find two industries that share fewer similarities than agriculture and iGaming. But when it comes to working from home and working alone, there are common challenges.
“Fresh air, exercise and regular breaks all help, but it would be too reductive to suggest they are the solution in and of themselves. Just look at our farmers, who I’m sure get plenty of all three.”
The concept of hybrid and remote working is still a work in progress, and in my opinion, there are solutions that must be found for the model to become a sustainable one.
Teams calls and video catch-ups are essential in this type of operating environment, but they do not replicate the social buzz or camaraderie of working in an office. In fact, they come nowhere near.
Am I more productive from home? Unquestionably, but that also comes at a cost. I am far more likely to start work an hour earlier or work through my lunch break, which means my productivity has probably increased tenfold, but then so has my risk of burnout.
Fresh air, exercise and regular breaks all help, but it would be too reductive to suggest they are the solution in and of themselves. Just look at our farmers, who I’m sure get plenty of all three.
For me personally, it also requires a huge amount of self-discipline and some brain rewiring to make time for those three essentials while working, which appears to have become the priority for me.
I am never going to be the person that wakes at 5am to down a flaxseed smoothie ahead of three hours in the gym before the working day even begins. Those that know me will attest to that. Besides, Pierre does enough of that for the whole of iGaming NEXT.
For better or for worse, I take my profession seriously, and a Friday lunchtime pint in the pub is a rite of passage for any self-respecting journalist. Going by yourself is obviously not an option, and beer-filled glasses don’t quite clink the same through Zoom.
Even so, I’d like to say cheers to everyone working from home. You are not alone.
Jake’s Journal is the third new column from the iGaming NEXT editorial team following the launch of both Conor’s Corner and Sonja’s Standpoint this year.