Working from home: Hell or Heaven?

Working from home to quote the queen Beyoncé “can be a sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare”. For some reason I now want to grab the imaginary mic and sing the full song. Tempting but I am not sure you would survive my rendition. This question has been on my mind all week due to “the Beast from the East” storm that rolled into the UK last week. I was snowed in at home for over 4 days and what is usually a dream became a beautiful nightmare!

Now don’t get me wrong I was glad that unlike other employment I have had throughout the years, my employer is very flexible and encourages working from home, so I didn’t need to take holiday or unpaid leave as I was able to and fully equipped to work from home. To understand my predicament you need to understand that given the choice, I would never choose to work from home unless I had personal appointments which meant I needed to be closer to home than work or I was having work done at home which required me to be present.

I applaud and encourage employers who offer this flexibility but for me personally I like going into an office and interacting with others. I like walking into a train station and getting my morning coffee. I like putting my headphones on and tuning out everyone on the train while browsing emails and the news. I like walking out to get lunch and debating what I should eat that day. I love being stopped by colleagues in the corridors and having impromptu conversations. But what I also love, is being able to sign off for the day, whatever time that is and putting on my coat and catching that train home. Work is done for the day unless there is emergency and that ability to stop and go home is essential to me, in enabling me to manage and have a good work life balance.

Working from home while great when it is convenient for you, I found this week was almost unbearable as there were no other options. I literally wanted to climb my walls! maybe it was the endless white of the snow outside or the cold or the feeling I had of being trapped inside! to be fair I wasn’t literally trapped I could have chosen to go for walks outside in the snow, but why? I mean its wet and cold! I grew up in a tropical country, unless I have no other choice and I always have a choice, I do not choose to be cold or wet! What this brought home to me is that employers should offer a variety of options for employees to choose from in their flexible working offer.

One size definitely does not fit all, consider asking your employees to be involved in suggesting what is on offer. Do not put limits rigidly on what is considered suitable or desirable. Be open to different ways of working and understand that what one employee will consider a good option for them will not fit someone else.

What this week also drove home to me, is how we engage with employees whose normal location is home.  Are they in danger of becoming the forgotten workforce?

Two days in Malta – day 1

I recently spent two blissful days in Malta, soaking up the warm weather, wandering amongst its narrow, quirky, history filled streets. This was one of a series of mini-vacays I have planned to rejuvenate mind, body and spirit.

I flew out of London Stansted on a Ryanair flight on a cold Thursday afternoon, feeling drained and fatigued and in desperate need of warmer weather. I had booked my flight using the travel app Kiwi. Full disclosure this is not a sponsored post by any of the companies or places mentioned. I didn’t know at the time of booking that I was booking through Kiwi and what that meant as I had been scrolling for deals using the Skyscanner app, my usual go to for deals on mini breaks in Europe.

The first issue I encountered with Kiwi was incorrect information on the app at the point I wanted to check in online. The app erroneously stated that I was too late to check in despite there still remaining 24 hrs before my flight departed and instructed instead that I would need to check in at the airport for a fee. A frantic search for their customer care number following a failed attempt to check in directly with Ryanair, resolved the error but it was mightily inconvenient to say the least. Side note: if you book directly with Kiwi, Ryanair won’t allow you to check in online with them as Kiwi registers your booking using their contact details!!! Like what the ever loving hell?

Anyway it turned out Kiwi checked me in online and then forwarded on my boarding pass to me for printing. Another little gripe I had with this process is I was unable to select my seat and thus enjoyed the bliss of the middle seat not just on the outbound journey but on the return as well!! Also another side note: it was way more expensive to book using Kiwi so it’s a good idea to always check prices that discount sites are advertising with those of the airline carrier to see if you are actually getting a deal!

Blunders aside the flight was quick and pleasant with no dramas. At just over 3 hours after departure we landed in balmy Malta at the Malta International Airport. The transfer to The Waterfront Hotel in Sliema where we stayed was seamless. There is an official taxi desk at the airport and for a fee of €20 we were transported to our hotel which took maybe 20-25 minutes.

The Waterfront Hotel is situated on a busy road just across from the sea with views across to Valletta. It’s centrally located for bars, restaurants, shopping, the ferry to Valletta, numerous tour operators both on land and sea and easy access to local bus transports and the hop on and hop off sight seeing bus.

The hotel itself is very modern, clean and the staff are very welcoming. Our room was located on the 5th floor. At check in the staff were very accommodating and friendly. There is a one off payment of €3 for the city tax for the duration of our stay. Our room itself was spacious, clean and the room was refreshed daily before noon. The shower was particularly amazing and the room came with a terrace facing into an internal courtyard filled with local plant life.

On the 3rd floor of the hotel is the restaurant which served a lovely full English and continental breakfast. Dietary requirements were catered for which was great! On the 10th floor where I spent a lovely relaxing evening is the indoor pool and gym area. If I had any complaint it would be that the indoor pool closed at 7 pm. I am not sure that this closing time is strictly policed though as I was there until gone 7 pm and no one tried to evict me.

The reception staff were approachable and always ready to assist. As an example they readily printed my boarding pass, organised transport to the airport and gave us a wake up call. The night before check out the hotel also left us a note reminding us of the check out protocol and also thanking us for staying with them.

On the Friday though inclined to just sleep the day away we visited Valletta arriving from Sliema by Ferry. This is an efficient way to get to Valletta from Sliema and the ferry one way cost €1.50 per adult but you can buy a day return pass for just over €2. The view of Valletta from the ferry is not to be missed!! One word, amazing!

The climb from the ferry area to the city centre is a bit steep but consider it replacement for the gym time you miss while on holiday and the calorie burner to destroy the guilt you will feel later when you try the most amazing diary free ice cream I have had in a long time!

We also couldn’t resist having fresh coconut water from a seller close to the bus station yum

We say tiny streets filled with character and gorgeous architecture. We saw churches seemingly on every corner. We found artisan jewellery shops and happily spent our coin buying more jewellery than we probably should have!

We tried the local cocktails and cupcakes, sat in the sun by the largest fountain I have ever seen.

Gawked at the scenery

Ran up stairs and just enjoyed the heck out of the joy of life

We came, we saw, we loved it.