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Locked Down!

Liz Drury British Voice Over Artist with Professional Home Studio

Over the last two weeks since the UK went into lockdown many words have been written on home working. Here are my thoughts!

Working from home is the norm for me, but now millions of people who would usually go out to work everyday are stuck at home – and many of them still have jobs to do.

My husband is one of these people.

Now, I have a lovely office that I work from, with my recording booth in one corner. Although there probably is room for a second desk (if I cleared away some of the clutter), I can’t have him in here with me – he makes too much noise! He’s constantly on the phone or a zoom call with his team, and I can’t concentrate when someone else is having a conversation in the same room as me. He has also been banned from working at the kitchen table – my office is next to the kitchen, and if I’m trying to record while he’s on the phone, my microphone picks up unwanted noise!

Liz Drury British Voice Over Artist with Professional Home Studio

My lovely home office with vocal booth in the corner

So, he has been banished to the spare bedroom. He has set up the camping table in between the beds and he has propped it up on bricks to make it the right height. He learned the hard way that posture is important after his first day working at home. He’d taken a lengthy call in the living room and sat on the sofa with the laptop on the coffee table. Big mistake. The next day his neck was frozen in one position and he couldn’t turn his head – he even struggled to eat! It took several days to ease off.

Makeshift home office

My husband’s makeshift home office

I think many people (who haven’t done it) have thought that home working would be idyllic  – no commute to the office, no being interrupted by colleagues, no having to make an effort with your clothes/hair/make up every day. Now everyone is finding out that it’s not all a bed of roses!

Now don’t get me wrong, I like working from home, but there are some downsides. The housework and the ironing pile are always staring you in the face, and you might not see another human being all day long. I usually counteract that by attending networking meetings, but of course those aren’t happening at the moment.

For those who are short on willpower it can easy to be drawn to the biscuit barrel or the fridge in an idle moment. I try not to have things like crisps or biscuits in the house because once those packets are open…..

It can also be easy to spend all day at your desk. When I started working from home I got myself a dog. He makes sure that I get out at least twice a day whether I want to or not! Actually at the moment that’s not quite true – I’m taking him out ONCE per day and somebody else in the family does the second walk…..Anyway, I think it’s important to build some exercise into your day – it clears your head, improves your mood and energises you.

Even on days where I don’t need to go anywhere I still make the effort to get dressed and put on some make up – it makes me feel better about myself, and that puts me in a better frame of mind to work. Of course at the moment NOBODY is going anywhere, but I think the same applies – it can be easy to slide into bad habits and stop caring about how you present yourself. I like to imagine that Gareth Malone can actually see me during our Great British Home Chorus rehearsals!

On that subject, there have been some great online initiatives popping up over the last two weeks. I’ve attended several online networking meetings, I’m doing Joe Wicks’ PE workout every morning, and the fitness instructor I usually go to stated online classes through zoom last night. Twice a day this week I’ve been checking in with Guy Michaels at Voiceover Kickstart along with 30 or so other voiceover artists, and we’ve been working on improving our online presence among other things. Next week I’ve signed up to do a course on Canva with Jonathan Tilley. If his previous courses are anything to go by it’ll be great training.

I am certainly not short of things to do.

Although my work is home-based and there is no reason why I can’t continue to work throughout the lockdown, my work has slowed down significantly. Some sources of work have completely dried up – no production companies are filming anything at the moment, which of course has a knock on effect. However, I imagine that companies producing e-learning and online training courses are probably flat out at the moment as everything moves into the digital space. I have a couple of e-learning jobs booked in and I am just waiting for the scripts. Many projects seem to have been put back or on hold while businesses get used to remote working.

There are calls going out all over the place from London agencies and production houses that would normally record voiceovers at their premises, for voiceover artists with professional home studios. I keep answering the calls but it hasn’t led to anything as yet….

The lockdown has prompted me to make improvements to my studio, which will hopefully make me more attractive to these kinds of clients. I’ve been training recently in dubbing and voicing to picture, but this wasn’t easy to do in my studio as I can only see the computer screen out of the corner of my eye when I’m at the microphone. When the lockdown looked to be approaching I went to Curry’s and bought a monitor. My husband spent last weekend installing it in my booth – and he even created a cover for it when I’m not using it!

Studio monitor in home voiceover studio

Studio monitor for dubbing and voicing to picture

Studio monitor with sound reflecting cover

Studio monitor with sound reflecting cover.

Two weeks into the lockdown it’s not clear how long we will be in this situation for. Hopefully if you’re working from home for the first time you’re starting to get into some kind of rhythm now – unless you’ve got small children at home, in which case I wish you good luck, and I feel very glad (for once) that I have older teenagers!