2020 has seen us swap the desk-for-dining-room table, but that aside, attitudes and approaches to work have barely adapted to COVID-19 life.
This begs the question: what can we - whether we’re employees or managers - do to make working from home run as smoothly and productively as possible?
Let’s start by weighing up the pros and cons.
Read on to uncover what we love and loathe about working remotely - and the remedies we recommend:
1. Pro: You're your own time manager.
Con: You're your own time manager.
Buffer’s 2020 State of Remote Work Report found that a flexible schedule is the top benefit for remote-workers and has been for the previous three years. We’re not surprised, but this can be a blessing and a curse. If you are someone who finishes your todo list without breaking a sweat, this will be a WFH plus. If, however, you struggle to motivate yourself and time spirals out of your control - or worse - your line manager delegates with unrealistic expectations, this will be a real pain-point for you.
Resolution: Communicate with your manager effectively.
Managers cannot impactfully manage you remotely without your honest communication: do you respond well to daily check-ins or work well with the reigns a little looser? Let your manager know and allow some adjustment time for companies to grasp how management can effectively do their jobs remotely.
2. Pro: You can get a better sense of work-life balance.
Con: Can you? Or do you just end up fretting about cleaning, washing, and increasing bills?
Resolution: Stay structured.
It’s tempting to stay in your PJs, we know. But a regulated morning routine will set you up for the daily grind. Get dressed. Have a proper breakfast and a proper lunch break away from your desk.
3. Pro: You can listen to your own music.
Con: Is it so fun without colleagues to sing along / spar with?
Noise pollution in the workplace has long divided co-workers. A big WFH strong point is the option to have as much or as little ambience as you like. This is a pretty awesome one, especially if your job is high pressure. But sometimes, the way we work most productively is to interact, even when it feels we don’t want to…
Resolution: Get creative.
Mix up what you listen to and take recommendations from co-workers! Flexioffices have set up our own co-working Brain Food Playlist on Spotify to encourage us to work and sing in remote-sync. Fall in love again with that podcast you’re missing from your commute or turn on the radio to stay in the loop with what’s going on in that wider world we used to spend a lot more time in…
4. Pro: Potentially, you have more time with your family, loved ones, or housemates.
Con: Potentially, you have more time with your family, loved ones, or housemates.
Resolution: Take regular breaks.
We have heard all manner of suggestions for the highs and lows of working in close quarters with your loved ones. We suggest you step away often. Now more than ever it’s important to assert your boundaries, even if you are confined to the house-turn-office. Take your lunch break outside or implement a rota-system for who gets stationed in which room when. Stepping out is sometimes the best medicine to effectively zoning back in.
5. Con: It's harder to maintain meaningful connections with colleagues.
Pro: It's harder to maintain or build meaningful connections with your colleagues.
Resolution: Take the time to get to know yourself.
Buffer’s Remote Work report found that 21% of remote-workers identified loneliness as their biggest pain-point. But it doesn’t have to be.
Taking the time to find out who you are will help you maintain connections - albethey remote. Whether a Zoom call with a colleague or blaring Bob Dylan by yourself with an afternoon cuppa helps ground you, take the time to find out what WFH elements work for you and against you and lean into them. Refocusing the energy of isolation inwards can be an enriching and beneficial exercise. *Tip* Finding out what personality type you are to see what makes you tick when it comes to WFH.
6. Con: Worrying you won't be remembered or considered when it comes to things like promotions.
Resolution: Voice your wins.
Employees' mental health is seriously impacted by WFH, but there is light at the end of the tunnel if businesses effectively implement how ‘good work’ is recognised and rewarded. WFH means there is no-one to witness your efforts, but your workload will speak for itself when you are hitting targets and working towards a greater company goal. All you have to do is speak up about it! The way work in 2020 is evaluated must be renegotiated - as much by employees as decision-makers. The quality of work being produced over quantity needs to be the new performance metric if WFH is to be embraced to its best potential.
7. Con: Slow Wifi / inadequate desk set-ups.
Pro: Hot-desking is on the up.
Resolution: See what co-working hubs are local to you.
Much research is in the making when it comes to what your employer is legally obliged to provide for you to do your job at home and what the optional extras are. Whilst you’re in the COVID-19 induced WFH transition, period, though, have you considered looking into local co-working options? They are on the rise in increasingly suburban areas to offer a ‘third space’ that isn’t your home or your HQ office and can help combat technology mishaps.
8. Con: Motivating yourself everyday can be tough.
Pro: You eliminate micromanaging.
Resolution: Harness video-based software and share the workload.
Being in sync with your wider-team is essential to beating lack of motivation at present. Video-based software and ensuring you are assigned specific tasks that contribute to a greater company objective can help to keep your perceptions narrowed and focused.
9. Con: Missing your regular pub / coffee place / pit stop.
Pro and resolution: Discover a new one!
Not everything is bad news as of 2020! Embracing WFH means you can also embrace your local community more day-to-day. Check out the coffee place or bar that you never had time to go into before. *Bonus*: if you make new connections doing this, you’re one step closer to beating #5 on this list, too…
10. Pro: No more commute.
The Ford European Commuter Survey found that for over 5000 respondents in major cities across Europe, “the journey to work causes more stress than their actual jobs (or even the dentist).”
Resolution: Get some you-time back.
Make pancakes. Take up running. Call someone you care about. Use your commute time as you time in whatever fashion you fancy. It keeps the monotony of routine at bay and means every day can start - and end - differently if you so wish!
The bottom line...
WFH is not without its shortcomings and challenges. The most important things to remember right now are:
1. You're not facing these peaks and troughs alone.
Millions of people internationally will be struggling with the same aspects of this list in a similar way to you. It’s an uncertain time, but remember that it is not without possible resolutions and positive aspects.
2. Communication is the golden thread that can steer us out of the cons and towards the pros.
“The challenges remain the same: ineffective communication. As an employer, it’s critical to maintain a community for all workers despite their physical location, and require manager training specific to remote workers as well as provide the latest technological advancements in digital collaboration tools across the organization.”
We’ve got a teething period ahead of us, but we hope implementing even one or two of these resolutions gives your WFH reality a boost in the right direction.
As always, if you’re considering your next office options or even like the sound of hot-desking somewhere once a week to mix up your work scenery, Flexioffices is a free, impartial service, here to help and happy to advise. G