Bill Ward addresses the peculiarities of a home office
Bill weighs up how to cope – or not – with being interrupted
ASIDE from the occasional limerick, I’m not in the habit of comparing myself to great poets, but in this case I’m going to make an exception.
Readers will probably be aware of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan. It was going to be an epic, but only 54 lines were written when a man from Porlock knocked on the poet’s door for some trifling matter, and by the time he was despatched Coleridge had forgotten the rest.
Now that spring is stretching into early summer, we find ourselves dealing with more ‘Porlocks’ than during the winter months. Our responses vary, depending on the cause of the Porlock and whether we are up against a deadline for filing a registration for a client’s trade mark. When it’s an animal paying us an unwelcome visit and we are involved in a serious business conversation, you have to respond quickly and decisively.
Recently, I was on the phone with a US client when I spied Bailey, our cat, passing the French windows with a small rabbit in his mouth. He was heading purposefully for the cat flap with the clear intention of presenting me with his quarry in that way that cats do to impress their human companions.
As there was a chance that the rabbit was still alive, I did not want to be on a client call
‘Blocking our entrances with household appliances is not really an option when the caller is human, unless you want to give the impression of being really rude and/or quite mad. ’
watching the cat torment the rabbit, so I sprinted to the utility room and grabbed the ironing board to use as a barrier against the back door. Success. No further interruption and the client seemed not to notice my temporary distraction.
Blocking our entrances with household appliances is not really an option when the caller is human, unless you want to give the impression of being really rude and/or quite mad. And of course some visitors are tradespeople, whose Porlocks are regular and predictable and so fit neatly onto a spreadsheet. We try to ensure we’re not involved on business-critical work during these times. For example, we have a monthly window cleaner visit. They’re a lovely couple, but they really can talk and they expect the full service of coffee and biscuits from us, even though they’re fully aware of our business priority. Our dog, Maisie, goes beserk for the next 30 mins while they go from window to window.
Sometimes, even well planned visits turn out to be unnecessarily disruptive. We used to have a weekly house cleaner but, in all seriousness, the four-hour hoovering, and general clattering and banging, was too much. So now we’re making better use of business time and just put up with a fine patina of dust over everything for a few extra days.
I’d like to tell you some more but I really must . . . oh, there goes the doorbell again. Got to go. And my limerick is only half written!