Where I Work: Lori, who works for a bank and runs a farm from her Canada home

Our daily mini series Where I Work is taking a look inside people’s home offices as the coronavirus pandemic makes working from home the norm.

We’ve (virtually) met a barefoot athlete who works without chairs, seen how one couple works from home on a houseboat, and looked around the shed studio of a jewellery designer.

This time we’re with Lori Murphy, a mum-of-three working and living in Alberta, Canada.

Lori works as a member service representative for a local bank, but since the pandemic began has been working from the farmhouse she shares with her two sons, a daughter, and her husband – plus sheep, chickens, rabbits, and a pig outside on the family’s small farm.

Here’s how she’s working in lockdown.

Hey, Lori! How has coronavirus changed how you work?

I do not normally work from home, as my job is front end at the bank. But since Covid-19 hit our community and isolation protocols went into effect, I was asked to stay home and help take call centre shifts to meet the increasing demand of online banking as opposed to in person.

Working from home took on a whole new meaning since Covid-19 and we are trying to find our balance now between school work for the children, and me keeping my 20 hours a week.

I suffer from an autoimmune disorder, and therefore am more susceptible to getting illness quite easy. My boss suggested I continue staying home and working here while the isolation period exists.

My family is very accommodating, and I start my shifts every afternoon after lunch and work until around dinner time. The kids spend an hour reading during that time, and then the rest is spent outside playing or doing a little video gaming. We make it work and so far it’s been good.

Have you found working from home challenging?

The biggest challenge working from home is not having the social interaction of my coworkers. Not being able to lean on them and ask for assistance when needed has been difficult in isolation.

I also find it difficult to focus on my tasks if the kids are being loud or asking a ton of questions. I try to write out a plan before I start my shift, so that they know what they can and can’t do during that time. Makes it much easier, but it does have its hiccups for sure.

Talk us through your workspace

Since we live in a smaller home, we have to make every space work for us. I decided to set up our home desktop in the kitchen just off the dining area. This way I can keep an eye on the kids as they do their schoolwork, and can also clean and cook during breaks in my shift.

We bought a MAC desktop computer to help me complete my tasks for work more readily, as we only owned a laptop beforehand. It was slow and didn’t operate at full capacity The new computer has been such a blessing.

I also have my peg board attached to the wall to help keep my pens, pencils, notepads and other accessories available as I need them.

I thrive when things are organized and pretty. Making my desk area look physically appealing has helped a lot with my productivity.

What’s a working day like for you?

A typical work day for me starts off slow. I wake around 8 (now that we are on lockdown) and take the morning slowly, drinking coffee, enjoying a good breakfast and hanging out together.

I get the kids situated for school on their devices, and they do their schooling from 10-12:30.

At noon I start making lunch so that when they are done they can come and grab their lunch. As they are eating I sign in on my desktop and quickly write out the agenda for the kids for the day. They know they must complete their schooling first, chores and reading, and then they can have free time.

While they are reading I begin my shift. The house is quiet and I can focus on getting started. I am operating on a new system at home that I had to learn in the last few weeks so that has been a learning curve for me. I am getting more confident in the program, and like to have that hour of quiet time in the house so I can get my feet under me.

I work for about four to five hours depending on the day.

While I have some downtime, and the calls slow down I will tidy the kitchen, and get a start on dinner. It’s nice being able to have access to things in the home and get a start on our evening even while my shift is going on.

It’s been a great blessing to be working from home and I do not take that for granted. Once the shift is over, I start dinner and we carry on with whatever the evening may hold!

What advice do you have for other people newly working at home in the pandemic?

My biggest advice is to set up a designated area that YOU feel comfortable with. If you need perfect peace, then set a room aside. If you are a multi tasker like me, then an open environment might be best for you.

Set a schedule for yourself and for your family, and have a plan written out so that everyone knows what to expect during certain hours of the day. I find this makes it easier for everyone and gives me sanity!

Working from home is not easy at the best of times if you are easily distracted, let alone in isolation and everyone is home. So make the best of it, don’t stress, and find your groove by setting down boundaries with yourself and everyone at home.

Do you have a snazzy home office you’d be up for sharing? To get involved in Where I Work, send an email to [email protected]

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