Where I Work: Holly, who's sending orchids to people's doorsteps in lockdown

Our series Where I Work is exploring how lockdown has changed our working lives.

Each weekday we chat to someone about their working-from-home setup, meeting everyone from barefoot athletes using desks with sawn-off legs to jewellery designers using their sheds as makeshift studios.

Today we’re chatting to Holly, 29, a product developer at Double H Nurseries.

Since lockdown began, Holly has been sending out orchids to people’s homes and taking photos of the flowers on offer from her living room.

Hey, Holly. Talk us through your lockdown workspace.

I live with my partner Ben and our new kitten Luna. We recently bought our first home together and moved in around six weeks before the lockdown was announced.

With both of us working from home full-time, we are grateful for the added space. Our house even has an outdoor office, which Ben has been using, leaving the rest of the house for me and the plants!

My working area started as a laptop and phone at the dining room table, but once full lockdown was announced, I packed a ‘kit’ of things I might need – packaging, tape measure and, of course, lots of plants!

Fortunately, with the help of FedEx Express, we have been able to launch our online shop, so we weren’t forced to throw away the thousands of beautiful orchids we’d spent all year growing.

Now my living room is used as a makeshift photography studio for product images to go online. Luckily, those products also make great decorations for the workspace!

How has coronavirus changed the way you work?

Usually, as a Product Developer, I travel quite frequently both in the UK and internationally, visiting trend shows, suppliers and customers, so the lockdown has had a big impact on the way I work.

Before coronavirus, it was not typical for any of us to work from home, mainly because the nursery requires a skilled team of people onsite, from growing to packing and distribution.

This period is usually the busiest time of the year for nurseries and we risked having to throw away 30,000 beautiful orchids every week. Luckily, we were able to partner with FedEx Express, who have supported us in bringing our business operations online, via LoveOrchids.co.uk, and have delivered over 45,000 orchids over the past six weeks.

How have you found the experience of working from home?

It has been surprisingly easy to adapt to working from home and rather productive. We were well set up for working remotely before the lockdown but weren’t using it nearly as often as we are now.

Some days can be challenging as I am adapting to a new working environment, but I’ve now found a new routine which is working for me. I am also learning new skills, including product photography, which we would normally outsource to a professional.

While I am by no means an expert, I have found a style I like, using accessories from around the house, although in front of the lens looks much tidier than the scene behind it!

How do you stay focused when your home is your office?

I try to keep my routine as close to normal as possible, taking regular breaks and having lunch when I would on a normal working day in the office. Every Monday morning, I will plan my week and set myself goals for each day to keep me on track.

Things almost always go awry but it feels a lot less overwhelming when there is a plan and it feels great to tick things off Mrs Hinch style as I work through the to-do list!

What’s a working day like in lockdown?

My alarm goes off at 6.45am, I shower, get dressed and feed the kitten before I log on at 7.30am. I go through my emails, host a daily check-in with my team before 9am and then I start to work through THE LIST. I have multiple coffees and a screen break at 10am.

At midday, it is time for lunch. When schedules permit, my partner and I try to eat together, it is nice to have someone else to talk to.

After tackling the rest of the list and debriefing with the team, my day finishes at 4.30pm. The laptop is either switched off or flipped to an online workout station. So far, we have completed a 5-day dance challenge, yoga, and pilates. We call this workout time our Booty Camp.

How are you doing mentally with all of this?

It’s hard not being able to see family or friends in person, especially as birthdays and milestones are passing by. I am quite a social person, so not being able to make plans or go out freely is really difficult.

On particularly difficult days, I try to be grateful that everyone I know, and love is safe and well, and thankful for this time to take a break from the world and enjoy the simple things.

How do you separate work from rest when you’re doing both in the same space?

I try to make sure I turn my laptop off and pack away my work things, so we can eat dinner at the table and relax without all the clutter.

I also try to do a couple of online workouts with friends from work, which is always good fun and it’s definitely more motivating when there are others logging in too!

What advice do you have for people new to working from home?

Have a routine, take regular screen breaks, and shut down your computer after the working day. These tips might be a bit boring, but they work!

Also, getting a new kitten has been a perfect distraction!

Do you have an unusual working-from-home setup you fancy sharing? Get involved in Where I Work by emailing [email protected]

Share your views (and cat pics) in the comments section below.

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