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Working From Home - Love it or Hate It

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

Many of us have experience of working from home but for a growing number of people it is becoming the reality for the first time.

During lockdown it has become the norm for many people at the Government's request and now there is growing commentary and evidence that this will continue into the future as companies realise that much of the work we do can be completed at home.


There are many challenges facing us when we Wfh. I have experienced this for nearly 25 years and for the most part enjoyed the experience. However, there are pitfalls that we can fall into if we are not careful which bring their own stresses in amongst the greater ‘freedom’ we can enjoy. Not everyone likes Wfh so we will consider some of the issues and offer some solutions.


The issues


Too Many Distractions, Out of Sight Out of Mind & Loneliness.


1/ Too Many Distractions


A concern for both employees and employers, Daytime TV, Family demands and Good weather are all perceived or real distractions which can generate suspicion and or guilt. However:


The lack of travel time, often unproductive for most people, is gained back. How are you going to use this? personal use or for work. The issue here is to be clear on how you will use it. Exercise, a leisurely breakfast or map out your working day, whichever, you have gained a positive amount of time.


How many distractions do we have in the traditional workplace, from overhearing a conversation to the ‘have you got 5 minutes to discuss’? These all break our concentration and have an impact on the resulting work time, do you feel guilty at work when this happens? It is accepted as a normal part of working.


The other side of this coin is the inability to ‘switch off ‘more of a concern for employees. Not everyone can shut the door on their workday. Having to use a family room such as the living room, dining room or kitchen. Leaving work lying around ready to carry on the next day mean that it is in full view and still on your mind. Even if you do have an extra room shut the door when you have finished.


Work has invaded your home not the other way around, try to put it away somewhere and pick it up the next day.


In my experience many people either have a guilt about not doing enough from home so carry on longer than they need to.


2/ Out of Sight Out of Mind


This perception is something that maybe true, the culture of having to be in the office early and leave late just so that you seem like a committed employee is not new. How this can translate into the Wfh environment is trying to make it ‘look’ like we are doing longer hours. It is not unusual for a culture to develop where people are sending each other emails late into the night, copying their manager in. Managers often will do this themselves, demonstrating and leading the way on the work ethic. It is not difficult to see how dangerous this can become. Work then becomes the distraction from your own time and you do not truly switch off.


Manage this situation by delivering the set amount of work you must. There is always more. If you do go beyond make sure you are doing it for the correct reasons, not to falsely impress someone, if you start responding it will become the norm, ‘mission creep’ they call it in the military.


3/ Loneliness


The solitude of Wfh can be a wonderful experience for many for a while but we are social creatures by nature. We lose the ability to bounce ideas of each other, have a moan about something specific or a new structure. Zoom can help with this in many ways but its still not the same as meeting in person.


On reflection on my own time Wfh two things stood out. I regularly found myself in a supermarket to buy something insignificant, really, I just wanted to be around people. Early in the transition to Wfh I missed the last chats of the day, where you can let off steam about the various annoyances you had. These were lost. When getting these things off my chest to my partner I found I had to explain the minutiae of the problem first so they could understand it. This only made it worse. A regular end of day call with someone who ‘gets it’ can be very therapeutic. It’s good for you and everyone else in the house too.


Many companies and organisations have ‘bolt holes’ where you can meet up but if yours doesn’t create your own and have a specific time each week to meet and stick to it where possible. Currently its difficult with the restrictions on socialising but be creative, have a group and each of you take turns to organise.

These are just a few of some initial thoughts on home-based working, it is a transition and I hope you found this useful.



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