Working from Home: Has the Novelty Worn Off?
For many of us, three quarters of 2020 has been spent working from home. It was probably a treat to start with. No commuting, laptop on your bed or sofa. Perhaps, like me, you had infinite access to snacks!
But are we still as excited about the possibility of working from home for the foreseeable future?
In this blog, I’ll share the pros and cons of working from home based on the views of my community. I also offer some tips for making the most of out the situation.
Pros and Cons of Working from Home
There are many pros and cons of working from home, simply typing it into google you’ll find screeds of articles saying exactly that. I’ll focus on a list that is relevant to me as an employee, in a fast-paced start-up.
Pros: “Working from home is ace!”
Employees have the opportunity to get into a routine that suits them and will work in a way that feels more productive. For many employees, the trust that their employers put in them gives them extra motivation.
With fewer interruptions from co-workers, you might notice that your productivity is at an all-time high. The flexibility that comes with working at home can allow you to be more focused and get the work done more efficiently. However, avoiding Netflix might pose a challenge.
I noticed my savings early on in the pandemic. On average, I would spend £120 on fuel per month, plus nipping to the shops for lunch most days at the office. But although the weekly shop increased due to spending more time at home, it’s nothing compared to the money that I’m saving on fuel! Have you noticed the same?
Being able to fit in household chores during the day gives me more free time at night (not that you can really do anything). Going to the gym before work without having to get up at stupid o’clock and getting more sleep are massive benefits.
Cons: “Working from home is hard!”
Forgetting to Clock Out.
There’s a myth that working from home means you don’t work much. This isn’t the case for me and many others. In fact, the opposite is often true. Working in the office usually means that you work on a task till the close of the day, you log off and continue the next day. But, at home, I find myself continuing the task until it’s finished even if it means longer hours.
Employees might feel disconnected from the rest of their colleagues while working from home. I’ve been lucky that even before lockdown, I often worked alone in the office. I got used to it. At Doqaru, we schedule daily calls just to check in on everyone and the virtual door is always open if anyone needs to talk.
Desk Set Up
If you don’t have a proper desk, office chair or equipment, working from home can take its toll. You could develop a sore neck or back if you don’t use the right posture or have the right set up at home. Funny enough, I’m the opposite – my neck and shoulders have never felt better. I often catch myself in the office crouched over my keyboard like the hunchback of Notre Dame. But, at home, I’m a little more relaxed in the way I sit. I do miss my double screens and the space to spread my work over my desk though.
What the People Say
I’ve seen numerous posts asking about people’s preference of working environments. The common response is the majority of people would like to work both from home and in the office. Adopting a more flexible approach and creating a better work/life balance. See a snapshot of the responses below:
Employees often worry about connectivity and the home set up. It’s more difficult to sort out IT issues virtually, for instance. However, once this issue has been fixed, there is no reason why you can’t do everything you do in the office, at home, depending on your job.
Other people have an engrained view of working life – you have to go to the office, and I get that. But if your office is not at your doorstep, it could mean a long commute and even relying on public transport. Working from home saves time, money and energy. If you can do it, why would you choose not to?
5 Tips for Working from Home
Set up a practical workspace
Even if you don’t have a designated office at home, set up space where you can concentrate on your work and avoid distractions. If possible, separate your ‘workspace’ from your ‘personal space’.
Know the ground rules
If you are unaware of what your employer expects of you, ask them. Do they require you to work 9-5 or is there some flexibility? Do you have to track your work activities? Consider regular check-ins and use tools like Toggl to track your time on tasks if need be.
Got noisy neighbours or live on a busy road? Consider using some earphones to focus your attention on your work and not your surroundings. Set some rules with the kids (more difficult if they are very young!) and keep the dog happy (or at least, in another room). Turn off the TV and put on some background music instead.
Stick to your work schedule
If you work 9-5, make sure to stick to those hours. You wouldn’t be doing overtime if you were in the office. However, if you’ve taken an hour out taking the dog out, make sure the work gets done, or fit that hour in another time in the day to ensure that you deliver your work in time and to a high standard.
Plan extra social interactions
At Doqaru, we have a team tea break every day at 2.30pm. It’s a time where we try our best to talk about anything other than work. It has at times brought up some very bizarre conversations. It’s great to get your mind off work for a bit, even if it is only for 15 mins.
Have you got any other tips that you would add?