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My homeworking diary: Michael McLaughlin

Michael McLaughlin, has been employed by HACT as Social Insight Lead for Scotland since January 2020. He is Currently based at SFHA in Glasgow, working on a social value toolkit in collaboration with Scottish social housing sector in order to establish and create practical measures for RSLs to understand their social value and measure their impact. In his diary, he documents a week of working from home during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

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Having spent the previous 16 years working within housing associations, there has never been much cause to work from home, which may seem slightly ironic given that much of that time has been spent in digital roles, trying to champion the need for digital transformation, both in organisations and at community level. 

Working for HACT, but as part of the team at SFHA, for the past couple of months has at least allowed me to dip my toe in the water with remote working (in terms of my direct line management being London based). However, when my oldest son, who recently turned six was sent home from School on Wednesday 18 March (coinciding with both SFHA and HACT advising all staff to work from home for the foreseeable future) I have been not only working from home but doing so while self-isolating with two young children and a wife who, as a primary school teacher is also enjoying/enduring her first experience of distance working (lessons and class contact online). 

As serious and worrying as the current situation is, I am looking forward to spending lots of time with my family and being able to wear my vast array of vintage football shirts to ‘work’ each day. 

Monday 23 March  

Starting my first full week of working from today, and, although the past couple of days have been good, spending lots of time playing with my children, the thought of balancing their schoolwork, with parenting and work does seem like somewhat of a challenge. That said, I had a couple of really productive conference calls (working between Microsoft Teams and zoom at the moment until we decide which works best) and have really enjoyed that so far.   

Given that I don’t get to see the team from HACT that often, it has actually been quite good spending some ‘face to face’ time, and, although the situation around this is clearly pretty dire, the positivity, leadership and energy to create some positive work has lifted my spirits somewhat. It may be worth mentioning that a broken toilet seat, flooded bathroom, faulty dishwasher and bickering children suggest that underneath that positivity – there may be a few long weeks ahead at home. 

Football shirt worn: Pink Juventus Away 1997/98 – When Channel 4 brought ‘calcio’ to the UK masses, Juventus was the team I picked to follow. This shirt, colour, design and team that played in it – total masterpiece. 

Tuesday 24 March 

Hopefully, I’ve not been lured into a false sense of security, but I seem to be getting to grips with working from homes a bit more. Day littered with Video calls but trying to plan my day around them a bit better. I did, however, forget to stick one in the diary and that caused a clash with another colleague, but given the current high level of uncertainty each day, everyone has been really accommodating and working together really well – long may that continue – we’ll definitely need it.  

Fitting in/being forced into trampolining in the garden during a lunchbreak is also a really good way to clear your head and break the day up. Not sure a 10-foot trampoline would fit in a city centre office complex going forward, however. 

Football shirt worn: Argentina 1986 – in homage to the greatest footballer that has ever lived.  

Wednesday 25 March 

Found today really quite challenging. I had video calls with both HACT and SFHA that created a couple of separate action points that I wanted to move on but also had some existing things to get finished. Almost all of it was offshoots of Covid-19 responses, and all of it is a priority for me. Video calls are great to give a good sense of team and know what everyone is working on, but setting aside an hour or so at a time for conversations and catch ups that would likely happen organically over the course of a working day in the office has its downsides, I suppose. I have quite a clear diary tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll get a good run of work done then. 

Football shirt worn: Scotland 1986 remake – I love this, and the original was the first football shirt I ever owned. 

Thursday 26 March 

Today was the first day that work seemed to settle into what resembles a routine. Video calls and workload have been as scheduled and, thanks to the great technology already in place, what will be the ‘new normal’ for the next while anyway is feeling slightly more comfortable.   

In order to keep team spirits up, like other organisations seen on social media, HACT had a themed staff video call where everyone wore a fairly outrageous hat. My two boys have now become accustomed to me talking to my laptop or wearing headphones while sitting at the kitchen table, and, for the first time this week, they failed to appear in a video call all day. 

Football shirt worn: Brazil 1994 – winners of the first world cup, where I watched every round of the finals, and the shirt as stylish as that Brazilian team. 

Friday 27 March 

Managed to catch up with people over various media as is now becoming the way of it. Getting a sense across the board that people are now begging to set a routine which makes creating time and space for partnership working much more achievable. Been quite a hectic week, there is no getting away from that, however, the speed of decisions made remotely in both the organisations I work with has been really impressive. I don't necessarily think I would choose to work from home every day in the future, however, I can imagine that this relatively smooth transition, in such a short space of time, suggests that life will likely include some of the innovative team working we have used this week.  

Football Shirt Worn: Barcelona 1994 – reminds me of my first holiday abroad where I visited Barcelona that summer.  

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