By making a lifestyle change, Jo combines an office job in Inverness with life on the farm


Jo Fanning believes he has found the perfect work-life balance.

Before Covid, her post was at Inverness College UHI before the pandemic led her to work from home on the outskirts of the Highland capital.

But working remotely now means working from a desk on a converted bus nearly 600 miles away across the UK.

Nomadic life

The radical lifestyle change was prompted by Jo and her partner Ben Thynne getting tired of working 9-5 and living more sustainably.

They also wanted to be closer to the family living in the south of England.

Ben, 36, quit his job as a wind farm site manager at SSE, and Jo, 35, cut her hours as a HR partner at college to two days a week.

Jo works on the farm four days a week

Then they sold their furniture, rented their three-bedroom house, and packed everything they owned into a van to start a new nomadic life.

Their first stop is Bulstone Springs Farm in Devon, where they became Wwoofers, part of the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (Wwoof) movement that connects visitors with organic farmers.

For free food and accommodation – the converted bus – Ben works six days a week and Jo four days a week on the farm.

On the other two days, Jo carries out her HR tasks in her new environment.

“Change ticks many boxes”

“We’d talked about spending too much time behind and behind a desk. We want to be a little more connected to the origin of our food and live a little more sustainably, ”she said.

“The only two of us lived in a three bedroom house in Inverness. We loved living there but once you have the house start looking for your next purchase.

“We felt like this lifestyle was not fulfilling us and we were just stepping on the spot.

“Change ticks a lot of boxes. We learn where our food comes from, we work outside, and we are closer to family.

© Xinhua / Shutterstock Jo’s accommodation and office is a converted bus

“We have developed from a new building on the outskirts of the city to living in a bus with a composting toilet and an outdoor kitchen.

“It’s very rustic and a real lifestyle change. But we adjusted to it very quickly and love it. “

Jo added, “When I was working full-time behind a desk, I got back pain and felt like it was tense most of the time. I felt like I had to go to the gym because I hadn’t moved all day.

“The balance is right”

“Now I don’t feel the need to exercise because I move all day. It’s just a better quality of life than I had before.

“For us it was a silver lining on the horizon of the pandemic. I have the best of both worlds. I enjoy my work and find it interesting and mentally stimulating. It’s all about finding the right balance and not sitting at a desk five days a week 9-5. “

The couple volunteered in Bulstone Springs for six months. They then plan to work on other companies in order to eventually set up their own small business.

Jo praised the college’s support and flexibility in making lifestyle changes, and was also pleased with the response from colleagues.

“You really supported us. Most people think it’s a very bold step and say, “I wish I could do this”.

“People have other responsibilities. It’s not that easy when you have children. Many were surprised that they did not see it as a possibility, but maybe they will consider what options are available. “

© SYSTEM Jo works two days a week at her desk on the bus

A college spokeswoman said, “Inverness College UHI is committed to promoting equality, respect for diversity and empowering employees by working flexibly in line with business needs to get the most out of our talented people.

“The pandemic has opened up more remote working opportunities and we are excited to help Jo combine her volunteering and new life while continuing to work remotely for college.

“This flexibility suits our business and academic needs as we are keen to maintain Jo’s skills, experience and talent for years to come.”