Working from home as a fundraiser – by Louise Trott
Working from home. Some people dream of it, other’s dread it and I get to do it; along with 27 other colleagues across the organisation including Rachel and Siobhan who have contributed to this blog. We’re all Regional Fundraisers, so we support individuals, businesses, schools and community groups who are raising funds for Diabetes UK, doing anything from a sponsored cycle to a glitzy Ball, covering the South West, East and West Midlands respectively. I’ve written this from my home in Poole, Dorset.
It doesn’t matter where you physically work; everyone at Diabetes UK is helping to support people with diabetes, whether it be campaigning to change the law to ensure all children at school get the care they need, running an event to educate people with diabetes in local regions to look after their feet, or working with specialists to choose research projects which we hope will offer us a breakthrough for treatment, or even a cure for diabetes.
As part of the fundraising team, we regional fundraisers play a role in raising the funds to help us achieve all these things and making sure people in our areas know about it.
None of us had ever worked from home, and it has taken us all a fair amount of time to get used to it. We have all previously worked in offices and travelled to and from work with the masses. It was very strange on my first day at my new job driving two hours to my nearest office in Taunton, to meet my line manager, who works from home in Loughborough, three hours in the opposite direction!
It was also strange knowing that although I am part of the South West team I wouldn’t really see them very often. Nevertheless, it was very helpful to meet the team, and they have made me feel so welcome.
The experience of working from home
So what is working from home like? Let’s start with a few things it is not. It is not sitting around on your sofa all day (think workplace health and safety risk assessments), wearing pyjamas all day or the easy option, far from it! I live in a house with my partner and 18-month-old daughter, and my office is our spare room overlooking the garden,just 10 minutes from the beach. Previously I worked for an event company in London, so it’s quite a dramatic change from working late evenings and catching the last tube home!
The things I have learned about working from home are; it’s difficult to find who or what information you are looking for at times. (I know what you’re thinking, that’s hard enough when you’re based in an office and have colleagues you can ask sat nearby). Sometimes I still struggle to find what I am looking for. You need to get IT support on speed dial! When something stops working and you’re at home you can literally do nothing without them. It was the first number I saved in my work phone.
And finally, it’s OK to leave your desk; to make a cup of tea or coffee, get a breath of fresh air and take your lunch break. A first I felt guilty every time I left my desk, but soon realised you do it in an office it’s silly to feel you can’t do it when working from home.
Most of the time however we aren’t at home at all, we are out and about meeting our supporters, helping them plan their fundraising events and making them feel ‘loved’ (after all where would we be without them?) and for us these meetings can be anywhere in our regions.
We may also be out doing awareness presentations, going to team meetings or visiting one of the Diabetes UK offices. As such we tend to spend a lot of time in our cars (in my first 6 months I have driven over 5,000 miles) and have eaten a disproportionate number of breakfasts, lunches and dinners at service stations or in supermarket car parks. It’s a glamorous life!
Although unsure at first, we all now love working from home and actually feel we’ve gotten to know our team more than when we were in an office. Primarily because we occasionally need to stay overnight together for team meetings or training. The things we love the most are; the flexibility to better support our families, no commute, and being able to have dogs, which offers a significant work/life balance opportunity; oh and not having to wash our hair as often (ok that’s just me).
Things that aren’t so good are that it can be isolating, especially when you need to contact a colleague and you’re not sure who, or you don’t get a response, there’s a distinct lack of office banter and it can be hard to switch off when your work is also your home. It definitely helps to have a separate room as your office, and to switch your work phone off. We also lose out on cakes and holiday treats, but perhaps that’s actually a good thing?
Having the freedom to work from home enables us to be out there in our communities doing amazing work in raising awareness and funds for Diabetes UK. It is a privilege to be able to meet our supporters and hear their stories and to work directly with them in achieving our vision of a world where diabetes can do no harm.