Due to the changing way of the world, perhaps you’re trying out home working for the first time. Thankfully we live in an age where more than ever this can work really well for many people, however the new surroundings and isolation can be tricky..!
A Brief History
I am a professional voiceover artist, and like many in our industry I work from home most days. I don’t just speak into a microphone, I run a business, which means I’m also the accountant, purchase ledger, marketing department sales office and more rolled into one. Voiceover artists have been home workers for a long time, although it didn’t used to be this way. 30 years ago VO artists would be travelling thousands of miles a year in order to gain work. They would visit studios in person and do as many jobs as possible while there.
Then along came ISDN, a digital phone line which meant studios could connect with the artist in high quality remotely. Almost a forerunner to the internet age, this revolutionised our industry and home working started to become possible. It was however expensive to begin with, but it was worth the investment over days of travelling. In 2020 the costs are more manageable, the best gear is still expensive but with the internet we have long been able to connect live and of course send files around the world from the comfort of our homes.
As the voiceover industry and the media world in general are more familiar with working from home, I wanted to share some of my tips on how to go about your day away from the office.
1, Have a working space. This can be wherever you like, but make sure that you have a desk or area you call work. Clearly for me this is different as I need a studio to do my job. But nonetheless it’s a specific place I go, and I don’t really use it outside of work time.
2, Get ready for the day, whatever routine you had for going to work, still do it, just except the leaving the house bit. Get up, get dressed, have a coffee, go for a walk maybe if possible and start your day. Avoid the sofa and sitting in your PJs all day. (Although I can’t say this has never happened, some days that is a perk!)
3, Set your workday routine, have a start time, and end time and of course breaks and lunch breaks. As with being in the office have a plan of the things you need to do that day, so you know where you’re at. This also means if you’re ahead of schedule, you can afford to be flexible with your free time. The time you would have spent travelling to meetings for example you can spend doing something at home, without being less productive. Don’t feel you have to be at the grindstone 100% of the time.
When your day is finished, try and step away. Having a set finish time really helps with this, close your laptop, log off, whatever and leave it at that if possible.
4, Try and get some exercise..! When you work in a city you’re probably walking a lot, maybe 5-10 miles a day. At home you’re probably lucky to get 1 or 2 k of walking if you don’t make a purposeful effort. If you’re able in these times take a walk, get some fresh air (alone and not in groups kids). However you do it just get a break from sitting in one place too long.
5, Be sociable, remotely..! One of the biggest things I missed when I stopped working in an office every day was the general chat and banter. Groups in an office having a goss or a laugh, that atmosphere you come to take for granted. So try and take time to talk to the people you always did in the office. Producers will know that VOs often enjoy a good chat during a live session..! Thankfully with Skype and FaceTime etc makes staying in contact a lot easier.
6, Watch your cash flow / Pay Your Freelancers! If your job involves paying bills, or if you are just starting working for yourself, keep on top of the money. Make sure invoices are sent out and you chase up payments outstanding. Don’t forget at this time to pay invoices especially for freelancers, we need to buy toilet rolls too!
7, Most of all, enjoy the fact you don’t have to spend ages travelling each day if that’s what your used to. Enjoy the flexibility, but keep disciplined in getting the job done. Perhaps home working will become a lot more normal now.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and wish everyone the best through these uncertain times. I’m sure the show will go on for most. The best thing most companies can do is keep going as much as normal, and of course keep using voiceover artists to relay your messages..!