When working near the new Tower of Paddy where I live in Brisbane, Australia, some of the staff members were trialling remote working. One of the IT managers admitted to me in a lift that the desk sharing work arrangements project had failed miserably in his division. He and his team members were all dissatisfied.
Lack of body language
For some people, it is easier to stray from the truth in a short text message or email. The sender may also worry less about the person’s feelings if they are not seeing them face to face.
If you deliver a difficult message in person, you can do so in parts and let the person down gently. You can judge their response quickly by their body language and respond accordingly to it. And if you feel like the person needs the rest of the day off, you can quietly excuse them.
When another team member is working from home, I’m personally less likely to contact them. I might try calling their mobile phone, and then if they don’t return the call the same day, I automatically assume they are actually off doing something else. And I’m less likely to call them again.
In this situation, I’ll ask a different team member. Some tasks become almost impossible when your team is small and the most experienced person is on leave. It may be easier to address conflict in the team, when you are able to talk to all of the parties involved in the same week. You can fact check and keep a better eye on everyone’s movements and breaks.
Developing Bad, Bad Habits
When working from home it is easier to fudge your timesheet hours. It is easier to go to the gym instead of working on a financial report. It’s way easier to have a long lunch and do a couple of extra chores while you are there. You might decide to have a quick beer with your pub lunch on Wednesday, which might slip into Thursday and Friday.
While working remotely, you might decide it’s a good time to go on a burger binge, or try different curries for five days straight. Other people might like to eat leftover pizza and two-minute noodles, or start a vegan diet packed with beans, lentils, onion and garlic. One Australian journalist has developed a fondness for sardines on toast (I feel sorry for his wife having to deal with his fish breath).
Computer Set Ups
Your desk and computer requirements are unique. I like to use Google Chrome as my default browser, while my husband prefers an Opera browser. I sometimes like to use a dark filter, while he prefers the light mode. Some people have red-green colour blindness, while others need to read larger fonts.
We both need different computer programs to complete our professional work. I regularly use programs like Gmail, MS Word and Excel, Adobe Photoshop, WordPress, Adobe Acrobat, Dropbox, and the calculator. Hubby uses programs like Adobe Director, Illustrator and Skype.
While my workplace places uses licensed software like Trello, Slack, Google Docs, NearMap, MS Project, MS Visio, MS SharePoint, Mosaic, Records Manager, SAP, Open Text Imaging Windows Viewer and MapInfo.
Poor Workplace Health and Safety Setups
Most households may share one study area for a laptop or a dedicated P.C. However, if circumstances change and two adults are working from home, then you’ll need to repurpose an existing table, invest in a desk, second computer or laptop, and an additional office chair. Your workplace may require a photo of your desk setup to meet current workplace health and safety requirements.
Working at home may encourage bad posture, especially if you haven’t had your official desk assessment completed properly. I have short legs, so my desk needs to be at a specific height and preferably with a footrest. My husband detests my footrest and office chair, so we need two desks.
When I sit at the computer for too long, I may start to slouch. At home, if you start to feel sleepy, you can easily pop over to your bed for a nanna nap. There’s no need to sleep under your desk.
Other People Keep Us Honest And Accountable
Some people need other people to keep them in-line and accountable. When your manager is off overseas on a well-deserved holiday, the team may increasingly push the boundaries of working from home. Your co-workers might bounce from one sick day to the next carers’ day.
If you have a gut feeling about something dodgy going on. There is a limited number of people you can tell when you’re at home. But in the workplace, you can discuss your concerns with a real person, such as a human resources person, another manager or a specialist, to see how they react to the specific situation and suggest an appropriate course of action.
Lots of distractions at home
At home or in a co-working space, it easy to waste half an hour in the excuse of ‘researching your next holiday’, trying to find the ‘best price for a pair of sneakers’, or looking up how to get a body like Jonathon Tucker, or obsessively play ‘Street Fighter’.
Flexible working arrangements are okay in the short term or on a part-time basis, but remote working and desk sharing are really like wanting to own a red Ferrari in your twenties, work two jobs and have a hot, intelligent partner.
Why not pop on your favourite scarf, and let’s all get back to the office to work so I can test drive a red Tesla roadster….?
Handy workplace health and safety websites
Safe Work Australia: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/
Standards Australia: https://www.standards.org.au/