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Working from home: Richard Thomson

Working from home: Richard Thomson

What’s your home office like?

I live within my constituency, in a small village surrounded by rolling farmland. Since my office window is a skylight, the most interesting thing I can see from my desk is a view of the clouds, of which today there are none. That sort of weather should be calling me outside for a walk but right now that will have to wait.    

Describe what’s on your desk.

My desk is much tidier since I stood down as a councillor. There’s a small stereo system which flicks between Radio 3, Radio 6 and one of the local stations depending on my mood. I also have some of my children’s artistic ‘masterpieces’ to keep me company, along with two gifts from my parents: a Selkirk Glass paperweight I received as a 21st birthday present and a hand-made wooden clock.        

What’s your top tip for working from home?

My top homeworking tip is to accept there will be interruptions and to roll with them as best you can. If, like me, you start the day with a tasklist you never quite finish, keep a separate list of everything else you managed to accomplish during the day, because you’ll find you achieved a lot more than you think. When you’re finally done, switch off the computer and put it or yourself somewhere that it can be out of reach and out of sight.    

My biggest distraction is notifications, with email, text, Teams, Skype, Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp all competing for attention. Separating wheat from chaff at the busiest parts of the day can be a challenge – roll on the single app to let you manage everything from the same place.     

What do you miss most about being in the office?

I’ve worked from home for several years now, so it’s no novelty, but the thing I miss most right now is face to face contact with colleagues. After the frenzy of the first few weeks in Parliament, it felt strange closing my constituency office almost as soon as it was opened. There’s also a lot of colleagues in Westminster I still have to get to know properly, as well as relationships to form with folk in other parties.

A big part of politics is about making connections and sharing ideas. We need to keep the progress that’s been made in allowing parliaments to function digitally, but without face to face contact and being able to speak informally, the political process becomes far less effective. Technology and innovation only takes us so far on that front.

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