What we can learn from Roald Dahl about working from home

During my professional career so far, my working environment has ranged from three-trainees-in-a-room-without-windows, to partner-office-with-big-desk, to open plan (KPMG and Pinsent Masons), to working primarily from home (since 2013). For us at LCN Legal, what’s new about the current arrangements is not working from home, it’s having children in the home at the same time.

As a team, we’re in the process of creating rotas with our other halves, so that we can be as transparent as possible for each other and within the family unit as to when we’ll be available and ‘on duty’ (whether for work or for childcare). This will probably mean reduced working hours overall. So how can we maintain or even increase productivity, and our ability to look after clients, during this time?

This is where Roald Dahl comes in, as an inspiration for productivity. Apparently, he had a very strict daily routine which included:

Breakfast in bed
At 10.30 am: walk to his hut in the garden and start writing
12 noon: break for a gin and tonic, light lunch with his family (e.g. Norwegian prawns with mayonnaise and lettuce) and a chocolate bar chosen from a red plastic box
Afternoon snooze
4pm to 6pm: back to his hut for more writing
6pm sharp: dinner.

Roald Dahl’s productivity probably came from being clear about what he was supposed to be doing, namely sitting down and writing – and doing it. For the rest of us, things might feel a little less clear cut, and a lot more chaotic right now. But ultimately it’s still about being as specific as possible as to what each person’s highest value activities are.

For me, it’s probably:

  • Real-time conversations with clients and advisers with whom we work
  • Client advisory work (in its various forms)
  • Four eye review or acting as a sounding board on current and proposed projects
  • Planning and creating legal resources and materials (including briefing notes, guides, checklists and webinars)
  • Designing new document automation tools and expanding the functionality of our existing ones (which allow people to more effective and accurate legal documents in a fraction of the usual time)

What are your highest value activities?

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