Working from home between myth and reality

These days, working from home is not news anymore, let’s just say that most companies will offer the choice to work remotely at least a few days a month. For employees, working from home has become a valid criterion in choosing a certain role over another. People love when the employer shows flexibility because this comes with trust and respect.

The benefits of working from home are well known: we save a lot of time that we would spend in traffic, we could focus easier on the task without being interrupted by anyone, we get time for little tasks like collecting the kids from school, having lunch together, helping with homework, doing some housework and the list could go on and on. This flexibility gives you freedom and sets your mind for work – maybe this is the greatest benefit, once you put away all these things that occupy your mind during the day (little tasks you think about while at work because it has to be done) your brain activity is focused on your work – and this is the key to the increased productivity.

At the same time though, for people working from home, there are lots of challenges. As we all know, people need social interaction in order to feel appreciated. Well, imagine you are always working on your own – it is fun in the beginning, but after a while, you get lonely. You miss the chit-chats over coffee in the morning, you miss the discussions about the latest episode of the most recent series, no beers and fun after work. Your colleagues become some avatars on some messaging platform. It might sound a bit dramatic, but this is very true. In order to avoid this, it would be great to organise visits to the office once in a while, especially when there are important meetings or events in your company. Even having video meetings and calls would do it. This will give you the comfort of being part of your group of colleagues. I tell you, I work in Romania for e-Frontiers a company based in Dublin and every time I get to go to the office (twice a year), I am very happy and it fills me with positive energy and the sense of belonging gets very strong. This year I will be there for the Christmas party (yay!).

The second challenge is that working from home, you can be easily distracted from your work by factors like getting a parcel, electrician visit and so on. That’s why it is so helpful to have a kind of structure in place. It is advisable to have some rituals that help you be more efficient. Some people have a To-Do list ready every morning and then tick off the tasks through the day, others have early calls and make a plan while there are others who go with the flow and get things done. It depends a lot on what sector you work in but at the end of the day, either very rigorous or loose, it all depends on how you feel it works for you and for your team and company.

Another challenge is when it comes to meetings and calling candidates because it is so easy to forget some things especially when you are focused on another task. It would be a good idea to have some sort of reminder in place. To be very honest, to have this sort of meeting, calls, deadline in the calendar is a lifesaver. I met some people who had reminders to finish work ????and others told me that, after a number of years, there is no difference between professional and personal life (if you remember something at 21:00 o’clock or you have a brilliant idea at 22:00, you just go in your “home office and you have it done”).

My conclusion is that working from home is not for everyone. If you can adapt and if you are very organised, it might be great for you. Otherwise, I am not sure. One sure thing is that working from home will soon be a benefit in every company. And then, companies have to bring something new in order to raise the employee’s efficacity. I understand in Japan they introduced, for the first time, the 4 days working week and the productivity increased a lot. I wonder, is this the way to go forward?

January 2020

Roxana Sandu