All across the land, an army of homeworkers sit at our desks, fingerless gloves on our blue, trembling hands, blankets around our shivering shoulders. We will not surrender to our weakness. We will not take the easy way out.
Maybe, though, we should.
I don’t like putting the heating on. Every time I do, I can hear the gas meter whizzing round, clocking up the kWh, draining away my hard-earned cash. But today, I was bloody cold, and a bit miserable because of it. And then I watched this lovely little video by Lisa Cordaro, and by the end of it I was feeling very positive. Yes! I cried. Self-care is important! And part of that self-care, I realised, is putting the damn heating on when I am cold.
I work at home. I am not just fannying around in my house; I am running a business. And businesses have expenses. Employers should do what they can to make sure their employees have a comfortable working environment. If someone else worked for me, I wouldn’t tell them to get a blanket and suck it up, so why should I do it to myself? There is a reason heating is an allowable expense on your tax return.
So I told myself all this, and I put the heating on. Then I panicked about my gas bill, so I Googled “How much does central heating cost?”. I couldn’t find a good answer, because obviously the answer depends on the size of your house and the efficiency of your boiler, but the answers I did find assured me that a day’s heating shouldn’t be more than a few quid. I used to spend more than that on bus fare or petrol and parking when I worked in an office, and I just accepted it as part of the cost of going to work.
It feels different when you’re at home, like so many things do. Blurring the boundaries between home and work has been great for me in many ways. But I’m not yet good enough at treating my home as the site of my business, and things like heating as a legitimate expense rather than an indulgence. But as freelancers, we need to look after ourselves. If we don’t, we risk affecting our work, and then we’re not only miserable, we’re giving our clients less than they deserve.
So I am giving myself permission to be warm. Or warm-ish, a little bit, sometimes. I’m not going to go too mad. I am still a northerner, after all.