Working from home has become a part of life for most of us in the corporate world. It has its benefits, and its drawbacks. Most agree on one thing however – working from home, at least for some of the week, is here to stay.
When I joined a large global bank as a specialist consultant in 2021, I was working from home full-time. Over the next few minutes I will give you an insight into what an average day looked like as I plied my trade from my humble home office.
Its 7:30 am – I’m woken by the familiar and less-than-loved sound of the Apple iPhone morning alarm. I usually snooze once or twice before accepting the reality of a new day. Every day begins with some quiet time reading my Bible and praying.
One of the obvious aspects of working-from-home is the relative absence of daily structure that is usually imposed by working in an office. Nowhere is this more clear than in morning, when one would usually have to get up early in order to prepare for work and commute to the office. I found that it was important to maintain this structure in as much as possible by having a routine in the morning. When you are set up for the day, the hours ahead are inevitably far more productive and rewarding.
8:50 am – I switch on the client desktop provided by the company and log in with my remote work credentials. The first port of call is the emails. I skim over my inbox to see if there’s anything that needs attention before my team meeting at 9 am. For example, sometimes there will be a request from management for more detailed information on yesterday’s reports. The response to emails often depends on the seniority of the sender – my Director will usually be top priority.
At 9 am I open my Zoom and join the weekly team meeting. This is a high-level overview of the work of the wider team for the week ahead. As I am relatively junior, I can expect not to have to contribute much here – senior management usually do the talking. Nonetheless, because we’re working from home, it’s important to be as engaged as possible on Zoom calls, making the most of the exposure to senior management.
20 minutes later the meeting ends. At this point I’ll usually take a few minutes to grab a tea (no, not coffee) and maybe a quick breakfast if I haven’t done so already. I bring it up to my desk, and skim over the bank’s internal market news agency. While this is not directly related to my own work in Booking Controls, understanding the market and trading conditions helps broaden my grasp of my role on the quality assurance and regulatory end. A ‘ping’ alerts me to the daily chat we open with our small internal team – myself, my manager and usually one or two others. I accept the invitation – we’ll keep this internal communication running all day.
Up until 10 am I do ‘housekeeping’ on my quality assurance reports from yesterday (when traders generate alerts for suspected unauthorised activity, their managers submit explanations; my role is to investigate and document our own review). Often I won’t have time in one day to review every alert closure, so I make sure the unfinished business is noted in the evening, and the next morning I’ll address. Today there’s some complicated closures – I pop the alert in question into the chat – we debate a response for a few minutes, before deciding to escalate.
At 10:15 am, the alert report for today has been generated and my day’s work begins. My first action is to check the alert count: under 60? It’ll be a quiet day; over 150? Batten down the hatches. Every alert needs to be reviewed.
With a work package like this, time flies. Its 11:45 before I know it, and time for a fresh cup of tea. While the kettle boils I step outside for a breather. If the sun is shining, I soak it up for 30 seconds – there’s not much Vitamin D in my home office. I hear the sounds of messages coming from my desktop – my manager is asking for a full data report on all alerts for one trader. It’s a messy job, but doable – I park my routine and dig in to get the information.
While working from home my lunch break time is flexible and dependent on meetings and what’s going on at work. Today I step away at 1 pm. I have no bread for a sandwich so I use the opportunity to walk to the local shop half a mile away. Rain or shine, the walk is necessary after the morning indoors.
At 2 pm I have a training session with a new hire, I’ve been tasked to introduce him to the quality assurance process. The training is actually quite enjoyable – I love teaching others and it’s a welcome break from Excel spreadsheets.
At 3:30 pm I join a call with our immediate team to discuss escalations for the day. We agree a course of action for some complicated alerts – usually we err on the side of caution and escalate likely unauthorised activity to senior management. These more intimate work calls are very useful for personal development – there’s less of the corporate formalities and more direct discussion on the issues. I take the opportunity to raise some grey areas I came across in my own work today. The clarity my manager provides is just what I need.
An hour later and the day is starting to wind down. I am busy making finishing comments on the quality assurance files and just beginning the end-of-day reports when my messenger lights up. It’s a trader, querying why I reopened an alert that his business closed. I check his rank – Managing Director. I have to be careful here – my facts need to be straight. I quickly review the decision from earlier, and explain why the alert needs to be recategorized (to a more serious violation). He disagrees, strongly. I gently try once more to lay out the case, but he still isn’t convinced. At this point I ping my manager and ask him for directions – he asks me to add him to the chat. I’m relieved – while the vast majority of the time our decisions stand, sometimes you just need a higher authority to reinforce the position. It works, and the trader agrees to recategorize the alert.
As a result of the above its now 5:30 pm and I’m still some way from wrapping up for the day. I grab another cup of tea (a little milk, no sugar) and put my shoulder to the wheel.
40 minutes later I press send on the last email report to management. Most of them are showing as ‘away’ – they’re getting dinner and will most likely be back later.
As for me – I prefer to keep the wheels turning until my day is done. I’ll only come back later at night if there’s an emergency.
I close down all my windows, and press the ‘shut down’ button. The desktop fan gives one last brave blast, then dies. The room descends into sweet silence.
I’m tired, but it’s been a good day. There’s still some light in the sky outside – I grab my jacket.