Darren Ratcliffe is the founder of Manchester-based eCommerce agency Digitl, which works with the likes of eBay, Shopify and the Department for International Trade.
Here he gives us an insight into his work from home set-up.
1. Where in the house do you work?
I’ve set up my home office in my conservatory and it’s working really well. It means I have a bit of separation from the main house and the kids who are, of course, at home too! I’ve got everything set up exactly the same way as my desk in the office so it really has been business as usual. I’m a creature of habit so pretty much everything is in the same place so I don’t get distracted. I work best with structure and routine, so I’ve ensured my space is just as I want it for maximum productivity!
2. Paint a picture for us of the view from your window
Luckily, I get to sit and look at my garden which is looking great at the moment. A few years ago, I decided to dig a pond out which is now established and it’s become a bit of an oasis. I’ve also started to feed the birds (don’t tell anyone!) so it’s quite relaxing to sometimes take a break, to sit and to watch them come and get some bread, drink from the pond and take off again. It’s a bit of a cliché but the lockdown really has made me slow down and appreciate my own environment much more. It’s been good for my head and, in turn, how I approach my work. I’m determined for this mindset to continue as lockdown eases over the coming months.
3. If you have one, can you talk us through your home-working daily routine?
I’m trying to get back into running, so I start off with a jog or long walk before the kids get up. After breakfast, I work through our live projects and respond to any messages that have come in from clients overnight. We then do a team update on Zoom to start planning our day out. I’ve made sure that we all stick to this routine as starting the day in the right way ensures the rest of it flows. I quickly learned that remote working is seamless if it’s structured, but it also requires a certain level of trust so the whole team feels empowered.
The day ends with a few client updates and at around 4pm I sign off. I do often work in the evenings, but that tends to be for developing Digitl’s new business and marketing strategies rather than working on projects. I’ll also do some work for my commitments with Trust Oldham and Oldham Athletic.
4. Which tools and technology do you rely on when working from home?
I have the same Mac at home as I do in the office, and I’ve got it set up with two monitors. I’ve done this for years and I tend to have my project management stuff open on one screen, and what I am working on across the other. It’s really handy when you’re on Zoom as you can have that on a full screen and update things on the other. If this crisis had happened a few years ago then it would have been much more challenging, but the technology we have has made a massive difference.