After spending over 12 months working remotely, I’m a total convert to the advantages of working from home and the laptop lifestyle.
Did you know that about three-quarters of workers surveyed considered that they were at least as productive working from home as from the office?
Advantages of Working from Home
There are numerous advantages to working from home (WFH).
There’s no need to rush in the morning trying to catch the train or struggle to find the fast lane. You can save time commuting to and from work and being stuck in traffic.
It allows you to save money on transportation and food. You can eat aromatic curries, smelly tinned fish, and garlicy pasta at home without judgement. You can have a cup of coffee just the way you like it, without the price tag.
You can start cooking dinner early – which is perfect for stews and roasts. You can vacuum and clean the house in one of your breaks or hang out the washing in your lunch break.
You don’t have to buy as many office clothes and polyester suits.
You can listen to your favourite playlists including true crime podcasts, musicals and jazz. You can whistle or sing along in the privacy of your home.
Your desk may be more ergonomic, as you can use a standing desk, office chair, monitor and peripherals that suit your needs. I have fewer interruptions at home.
I love spending my lunchtime at home. I can sink into my comfy seat and watch YouTube’s trending videos. Or I can eat my healthy salad (just the way I like it) sitting on the back steps in the sun.
You can get out in the garden or cultivate an indoor plant collection. You can spend some quality time with your pets or juggle your caring responsibilities better.
I can squeeze a bit more into my day and walk around barefoot. I can make a mess with sticky notes, hold brainstorming sessions spread out over the dining room table, and hang up my vision boards.
Disadvantages of Working from Home
There are fewer disadvantages to working from home.
You can’t see if your boss is in a good mood to ask for some time off or a favour. You can’t confirm if your work colleagues’ body language matches their words.
You can’t take the lift down to accounts and ask some dumb questions. You’ll need to know who’s who in the zoo if you’re contacting them via teleconferencing.
When working remotely there is anecdotal feedback of reduced opportunities for collaboration and networking. There is less water cooler chit-chat and office gossip.
You might miss the free newspaper, morning teas or fruit basket. Or not.
Micro-managers may report feeling a loss of control, or concern their employees are slacking off while they are unsupervised.
Adapting to Working Remotely
I caught up with a marketing manager for lunch, and she admitted to feeling lonely working from home. The rest of her team were in Sydney. We talked about different ways to cope with social isolation:
- Attend Meetups and business groups in person and online
- Attend a webinar or listen to a podcast or radio
- Set up a social chat with your workmates or friends
- Work in your local café, library or a co-working space
- Weekly check-ins with your manager
- Schedule some ‘get out of the house’ appointments and dates
Do remember to keep it professional – you can get away with wearing tracksuit pants, shorts or yoga pants, but make sure your top looks good for any impromptu video calls. I once had a Zoom meeting with a lawyer in my Oodie and Ugg boots – probably not the best look in retrospect!
The company may need to see a photograph of your desk setup. You may need to sign a form agreeing to the terms and conditions.
You do need to treat working at home as a privilege that can be taken away from you. So, keep in contact with your manager and team members – be ready to chat or answer calls and emails promptly.
Workplace WFH Benefits
My husband’s workplace was generous with their support. He received a brand-new laptop with a charger and docking station and a laptop bag. My last job provided an older laptop that was ridiculously heavy, and new headphones but not a laptop bag.
Depending on the work you do, there’s a sweet spot of two or three days working from home and the rest in the office. But everyone is different – my husband likes working one day from home, and that’s any day when I’m not there too!
Working from home needs to be supported by management. One of my managers refused my request to work from home, so I was forced to quit my job. I have avoided applying for some jobs that don’t let you have flexible hours and work-from-home arrangements.
Be aware that managers can view reports on your work activities. You can buy mouse jiggers to help you pretend to rat-tat-tat-tat, but you will still need to be productive.
If your managers are billionaires with nannies and cleaners, they are unlikely to understand or be sympathetic to your situation.
The tempo of the city might have changed, but so have our personal experiences and views.
Come on, it’s time to let your staff members work from home.