Our content volunteer April tells us what it’s like to work from home as a neurodivergent person.
I have been volunteering for Exceptional Individuals since January 2019. During my interview to volunteer for them, I was asked if I prefer working in the office or from home. I said I liked to try a little bit of both. When I heard that I had got the volunteering role, I was asked if I wanted to work in the office on Mondays and from home on Tuesdays from 11 am – 5 pm on both days and I agreed. Upon starting my voluntary role, I had no idea when exactly to take a break for lunch, but when I was asked if I wanted to work for EI on a paid scheme for 15 hours a week for 6 months, I decided to practise working from 11 am – 1.30 pm, have my lunch break at 1.30 pm and resume working from 2.30 pm – 5 pm. When my paid scheme was over, I decided to continue as a volunteer and adhere to the working and lunch break hours.
As a person with autism, I like being able to stick to a similar working from home routine to the one I follow in the office. While I sometimes go to shops on my way to the office, I do this before I work from home every so often as well. I also go to the local shops during my lunch break sometimes as well as after I finish my work for the day.
Whilst working from home, I like being able to put my laundry on before I start my work for the day and during my lunch break, I hang my first load on a clothes airer and put on another load that I take out at the end of my working day.
At home, my working space is at a desk in my bedroom and I typically work on my MacBook Pro, which I also take to the office on my office working days. The best thing about this is working at a space that is separate from where I eat my lunch and I like having a change of scenery from my workspace at lunchtime when I work from home. There were some occasions on which I did some work fully on my iPad mini such as writing Google and Facebook reviews from EI as well as some on my phone in terms of filming whiteboard drawing sequences for a series of videos about autism for the agency.
Even though I have mostly worked as efficiently at home as I did the office, there were a few setbacks I have experienced. During my initial volunteering phase, I once received a difficult comment on one of my YouTube videos. The comment played on my mind so much that it took me longer than I thought it would to complete my tasks for the day. There were also occasions on which I felt too tired to complete tasks when working from home on a Tuesday, so I continued with the tasks on the Wednesday.
One advantage of working for EI is to work from home instead of in the office on certain occasions, for example on the anniversary of my grandmother’s passing and when I was worried the weather was too hot for me to use public transport to the office. In March 2020, it was advised that everyone at EI works for the agency remotely until further notice due to the Coronavirus outbreak. On the same day this advice was announced, the NHS 111 website advised me to stay at home for a whole week because I had been coughing on and off for a week even though it wasn’t as serious as a cough that a person with Coronavirus would have, but I still thought it would be best to be cautious and work from home whilst self-isolating.
Another advantage of working from home is avoiding public transport. Since working for EI, some commuters have been very unpleasant or stressful in terms of having to put up with loud and verbally aggressive people on the bus or being stuck in traffic as a result of a car crash.
Not only have I worked outside of the EI office at home, but I have also volunteered from my parents’ house when I stayed there over the Easter holidays in 2019.
To conclude, I enjoy working from home as a neurodivergent person. In spite of taking longer than usual to finish my tasks due to a difficult online comment and feeling too tired to complete tasks at home sometimes, I like being able to follow a similar routine at home to the one I follow in the office whilst doing my laundry and going to local shops before and after my work as well as during my lunch break.