When my dining table became my home office

Sandra Geisler, Underwriter - Melbourne | 30 MAR 2020
I usually have flowers on my dining table and great people around for wonderful conversations over food.  But for now it is just me, my indoor tree and the screens that are stacked on some books on my dining table (as a side note, I do feel very fortunate to be able to work from home as many other people are not). As of Monday evening last week, my dining table officially became my home office.  Even though I secretly hope to get smarter by just looking at the books, I stacked them under my screens to have the screens at eye level and avoid unnecessary strain on my neck and back.
 
I don’t go anywhere without coffee. I consider the 3 meters from the kitchen to my home-office classified as going to work and therefore this warrants my work day to start with trying my home-made coffee making skills. Before I sit down I put on some great tunes that get me going (oh yeah, get me those 80s and 90s), then I work on a to-do list, and check in with some team mates and brokers. 
 
The brokers call regardless and conversations are different anyway but I do think it goes a long way to talk to people and just check in, now that we cannot see them anyway. Once I am set up with the points I want to get off my list, I get down to business. How I do my work, hasn’t really changed, only the location. If I need to bounce something off someone I call someone in the team. If I need more information or decline a risk, I call the broker or email them or check in with the claims team what their view of the world is.  Heck, I even had a client presentation over zoom last Wednesday with 8 other insurers dialing in. So the approach is not different, just location.
 
With that being said, I do make sure I take proper breaks, not only to work on my great coffee making skills but to ensure I look after myself and clear my head. I am fortunate enough to have a balcony that fills up with sunlight and so I do try and just sit there for a bit around lunch time, and then put my cooking skills to the test. So far, so good.
 
As for the afternoon, I do break again, not for caffeine but for some good tea. Sometimes my yoga mat makes an appearance where I pretend to know what I am doing for about 10 minutes before admitting I have no clue and get back to business.  Once I am done with work for the day, I actually turn everything off. If I leave it on, I know I will find more work to do later on because there is always something that can be done but that is not how I personally create a healthy balance.
 
Usually before I start my work day I either get up at crack of dawn or well before that when no one is out, I go for a walk or I meditate, or both and I am beginning of looking into home workouts. I do think how you start your day sets the tone as well as how you finish it.
 
So this brings me back to my dining table where I would usually have fun conversations with people over food. Even though I am not able to share my ‘fabulous’ cooking skills at the moment and truth be told no one wants my coffee anyway, I still have great conversations with colleagues and brokers at my dining table.
 
So the purpose of the dining table remains the same – to have good conversations with great people, just via phone.