While we’re all working from home, it’s important to keep in touch with team members and make sure that everyone is safe and well. Let’s check in with DWH’s resident copywriter Claire Baldwin.

Well. The last two months have been … interesting, to say the least. I’m writing this during week 6 of the UK’s lockdown, though our household was already trying to isolate as much as possible for a week or two beforehand.

Things have been kind of tough, but my family and friends are all safe and healthy, and my partner Matt and I are both able to work, so we’re very fortunate. My heart goes out to everyone who’s been affected by this awful situation, and I’m so grateful to those who are putting themselves at risk on a daily basis to keep us all safe and fed.

The effect of lockdown on different industries

As a freelancer, my income is never guaranteed. While I had managed to build up a good amount of regular monthly work, and I was delighted at the end of my second tax year to have made a legitimate salary over the previous 12 months, coronavirus turned all of that on its head.

Almost overnight, I experienced around a 90% drop in my monthly income. I was freaking out. Several of our clients here at DWH are in industries that were massively affected by the lockdown, including the events and wedding industries, and, understandably, they were forced to suspend their marketing budget. One of my personal clients was also unable to work for around a month, having contracted COVID-19. I’m glad to say that he’s now just about fully recovered.

This meant that March 2020 was one of my quietest months since starting freelancing.

However, other industries have become much busier because of the pandemic, and in April I found myself absolutely flooded with work from industries such as professional cleaning and business management software.

In stark contrast to the incredibly gloomy March, April was one of my busiest months since starting freelancing!

Working from home

For me, working from home is my standard operating procedure, so that hasn’t changed things much for me. Matt (who works in engineering design) has been working from home since a week or so before the lockdown, so he’s taken over my office a little!

He has frequent virtual meetings and calls, so I have to remember not to scream-sing along to ‘80s music like I do normally. This also means that I sometimes have to take Wim, our one-year-old miniature schnauzer, out of the room when he’s barking or trying to pull the curtains down.

To be fair, Wim has been getting better at letting us get on with work over the last few weeks. He’s quite good at napping for an hour or two, but when he wants attention, you don’t really have a choice! Learning to push through the “I don’t feel like working right now” mood and crack on with work while he’s asleep is an essential skill!

Dog parenting during lockdown

Aside from working, looking after Wim is the other big task in my day. Being able to take him for a walk in the park every morning has definitely helped to keep me going. Not being allowed to go anywhere or do anything can get a little depressing, but we always have to get up in the morning to let him out and to take him for a walk, so he brings us a nice sense of purpose and routine.

Wim is devastated to not be able to go to his favourite pub right now, but he loves the park and being in the garden, so he’s making do. Opinions are somewhat mixed on whether dogs can catch or pass on COVID-19, and not all of the other dog owners are following the same guidelines. Some owners won’t touch other dogs and don’t want theirs to interact with any other people or dogs, whereas others are carrying on as normal, letting their dogs off the lead and stroking all the dogs.

Personally, I’m somewhere in between. I feel bad not letting Wim run off and enjoy himself with his friends, but I’m also wary of the risks. It’s hard to know what to do, and it’s not like I can explain what’s happening to him! I’m definitely more lenient with him than Matt is. He’s a bit of a mummy’s boy.

Skype is the MVP of lockdown

I’ve been video chatting every day for meetings, socialising, exercise, and catching up with family. Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp video, Discord, Google Hangouts, FaceTime … I’ve been using everything. Video calls make me feel like I’ve actually got company, and they have definitely helped to keep me sane.

In many ways, I’ve been spending more time with people during lockdown than before! I’ve also been keeping in regular contact with a few people that I hadn’t been speaking to much of late, and it’s been lovely.

My current schedule goes something like this: On Mondays, I play games with my brother on Steam, usually Ticket to Ride or Don’t Starve Together. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I drink wine with my friend Isabelle and watch shows on Netflix. Wednesdays more freeform, like the time I had a Hangouts chat with my friend Ella and we chatted while drawing our pets, which was a lovely evening. Friday is another Netflix day, this time with my friend Dan, who I’ve not been able to speak to regularly in years and it’s been so wonderful to spend time with him.

I’ve also had virtual sessions with my personal trainer over Skype, which means trying to find things I can do in my kitchen with just a yoga mat and two 2kg dumbbells. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing. There’s also a dance class that I go to that has been running sessions on Facebook and Zoom, so I’ve been trying to do that in my kitchen as well.

It’s okay to just get through the day

One of the most important things I’ve learned during this situation is to cut ourselves and each other a little slack.

There’s a weird amount of pressure to achieve great things during lockdown, but the situation is so much harder for some people than others. You don’t need to learn to bake bread or write a novel or make kombucha or watch every movie on IMDb’s top 100 list. You don’t even need to take a shower if you don’t feel up to it.

As long as you’re getting through the day, you’re doing great.

Some days, I’ve got loads of work done, read a few chapters of a book and made a brand-new recipe for dinner. Other days, I haven’t showered, I’ve had a Pot Noodle for lunch, and I’ve found myself crying on the kitchen floor.

Both of these types of day are fine.

Check in with your loved ones when you can, but remember that just because someone hasn’t contacted you, it doesn’t mean that they don’t care. Stuff is just pretty weird right now, and we’re all doing our best.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and try not to lick anybody.

We’ll get through this!