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Working from home: Alasdair Allan

Alasdair Allan MSP - Image credit: Alasdair Allan

Working from home: Alasdair Allan

The SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar talks us through his working from home set up

Describe the view and what it means to you?

The view from my kitchen, on the north east corner of the Isle of Lewis, looks towards the sea but only obliquely. The house was built by a man who spent so much time out in the elements that it would have struck him as completely unnecessary to point his house in the direction of a view. But there are plenty of views when I am out on my daily walk down to the nearby beach.

What are a few things that you have in your work area?

There is more detritus on the kitchen table than I care to name. I have taken to doing video blogs from the kitchen, but these require constant vigilance, just to keep washing and washing up out of shot. So, today I have gone through to the tidier living room to take a photo there instead. At the moment, I see there is a guidebook lying about on how to cook mince, given to me in ironic tribute to my cooking abilities.

What’s your top tip for working from home?

Work from the kitchen rather than the living room, just to retain some slight mental distinction between going to work and coming home at night. Also, embrace Zoom, etc. It’s been useful for meetings, but also for keeping in touch with family and friends on the mainland. Tomorrow night I will be taking part in my first Zoom pub quiz. A whole new social world is opening up to me. I am not as lighthouse-keeperish as some people idly assume.

How do you avoid distraction?

Don’t listen all day to news coverage about corona. Don’t work all the time either, though there is plenty scope to do that at the moment. I am going to see if I can convince my young nieces and nephew that I should be one of their online teachers, though I have doubts whether they will take that entirely seriously.

What do you miss most about being in the office?

Normally I am on the plane every third day in life between Stornoway and Glasgow. Just before the lockdown, I got (very welcome) permission from the whips to work for a while from home. Travel from the islands was by that point becoming very difficult. I am sure I will be required again in parliament soon, but I miss getting out around the islands’ many communities, although I like being on one landmass for a while for a change. I doubt, however, if I will get to cut my peats this year. Zoom, sadly, will not extend to that.

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