Research shows that, in many cases, millennials and generation z value freedom and flexibility over job security. This new mindset has led to an increase in freelancers and sole traders across industries looking for ways to work from home. The events of 2020 have meant that companies and sole traders alike have had to find ways to work from home. We talk to Private Physiotherapist, Ben Lombard about how his working life has changed over the last few months.
What is your profession and where you did you work before COVID-19 kicked in?
I am Private Chartered Physiotherapist based in Highbury & Islington, North London. I the plunge into self employment just under two years ago. Since leaving employment, I have seen colleagues and friends in the physiotherapy industry make the same move. It seems, for more and more people, the financial and flexible benefits outweigh the risk and learning curves involved in those first few years of becoming self employed.
Given the current circumstances, where do you now work the majority of the time?
Technically, as a key worker and a healthcare professional I was able to work during the pandemic. For the safety of my clients, however, I opted to take a virtual approach from March-June by only treating clients online. My usual approach to physiotherapy is to combine manual treatment with exercise prescription that the client must do themselves between sessions. Working with virtual appointments only was an interesting transition for me and whilst I will always value the results of my manual therapies for healing and pain relief, it was important for my clients to see that they can have efficient and effective results by doing their exercises regularly, as prescribed.
I have treated face-to-face again since June. The social aspect of my job is important to me and, with extra safety precautions in place, it is great to be able to perform manual treatments again.
What are the benefits of the way you now work?
Being self employed has enabled me to find the working schedule that enables me to be my most effective for each client. Being a physiotherapist is both mental and physical so keeping a sustainable work/life balance when I was employed was a challenge. I now control what my diary looks like. Since coming out of lockdown, many of my clients are working from home too. This means that they are able to come and see my during the day rather than early in the morning or late in the evening. This has created a better work/life balance for myself and my employees. I can work normal(ish) hours, and they have the time to receive the physical care that they need. After months of sitting at their kitchen table, many people seem to be understanding the importance of proper desk set-up and regular exercise more now that they have to make a conscious effort. This is something I am able to help with.
What are the challenges of working from home?
On a busy day, I struggle to get more than 5,000 steps. Getting 10,000+ steps a day helps to ensure that your NEAT energy needs are met which helps you use enough energy to sleep well, to keep your blood flowing and your energy up and to enable your body to move into difference positions - static working postures lead to injuries.
I have now found a routine around my working diary that allows me to walk first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and hopefully at lunch time. When my diary is busy it can be hard to fit this in - and it’s important for anyones mental and physical health.
How would having a dedicated space to work from home would be beneficial to you?
Absolutely. It would create that ‘going to work’ feeling of leaving the house in the morning. I have recently moved to a larger house that has my own dedicated treatment room and I have found that having a dedicated space where I can leave my work out of sight during the weekend has been a game-changer. An extra room would allow me to separate my work and life spaces, allow me to kick start my day with movement and vitamin D as I walk outside in the morning, and it would mean I don’t have to move home each time my partner or I needs more space.
This is something I would recommend to many of my clients too.