The switch to home and hybrid is a major one. What will WFH look like look 3 years from now?
Office interaction stops when working remotely. Conversations between colleagues become on-topic and work-related. This might seem like not a bad thing, especially when considering the increased-productivity numbers. However, without those connections and social interactions, lethargy and weariness can set in.
The majority of WFH advantages are clear, and some days you just want to get things done without distractions. On those days, we simply don’t need watercooler time. But finding a balance and a hybrid and flexible model will prove essential over the long haul.
Ultimately you find a way to get work done. Maybe it’s a second wind at 9 pm. Maybe you are sharp and focused on Friday, but never Monday. Maybe management decides that WFH isn’t a good idea Monday or Friday in the summertime due to all the distractions. Perhaps at a particular time of day, you sit in the kitchen near a window and in the late afternoon on a firm couch. Julie likes WFH her way, but John’s way may be very different, But, they both are very productive.
Then there are the obvious challenges at home. We can feel like we’re not getting much done or feel like we’re working all the time.
What we’re lacking is intentionality.
Apart from a dedicated workspace and strict schedule, we should learn how to create a mental space for home life and one for work life. Your daily commute, coffee break and lunch break go away with WFH. If you benefited from these. you might gather your thoughts before and after work or make phone calls that you wouldn’t otherwise. In place of, you can however add a short walk into your routine to give you that space.
Good work-life balance means discipline
Pre-COVID, it was difficult to leave their work at the office without bringing it home. When working from home, it’s even more difficult to switch off work-mode as it’s right there in your own home.
What’s required, therefore, is discipline. Some people might dedicate specific timeslots in the day or evening when they will not check emails, for example. Others will ensure that their evenings and weekends are for them alone. Regardless, people need to make decisions on their work-life balance that fit in with their family. Once we have decided on our personal rules, the hard part is sticking to them.
Trust and checking in with people
Even though many people enjoy working alone and in their own space, it’s important to keep in regular contact with colleagues, line managers and peers. This isn’t just good business sense, but it also benefits everyone’s mental wellbeing.
It’s often easier to email, and many people prefer this to picking up the phone. However, it’s good idea to vary your communications with your colleagues. Calling, video conferencing, or instant messages are all great communication tools that have their place in remote working.
When you’re at home, you have all of your home comforts around you. There’s the coffee, the refrigerator, the television, your smartphone, social media, your comfy couch and even chores. Procrastination is much more likely at home, and you need to be strict and get into a good routine. If it means using site blockers, timers, the ‘do not disturb’ function on your phone, for example, go for it. Otherwise, half of your day could disappear in distractions. Thoughts of ‘just one more coffee’ or ‘I’ll just put this laundry away’ might lead to working later than you’d planned.
For executives, owners and managers, trust is essential. The company rank and file need to be able to carry out their work without the daily scrutiny of their line managers. It’s important to set clear guidelines from the beginning and have procedures in place to check in with colleagues without being too overbearing. The rank and file won’t appreciate constant monitoring. They might even work better if line managers demonstrate their trust in them.
Takeaway: WFH is situational
What works for some people won’t work for others and is very situational. There seems to be a generational divide between those who enjoy the experience and those who don’t. Younger people – those who’ve grown up with laptops in their homes, for example – seem to enjoy working in their own environment much more. For those over 50, it can often seem a bit more challenging to bring work, especially computer-based work, into the family home.
Ultimately, everyone is different. We all have different temperaments and likes and dislikes of how we want our working environment to be. If you have to work from home, you will find a way to get it done in a way that works for you. We might struggle with WFH for a week or even a few months, but it doesn’t mean we can’t work out the kinks. The transition is tough, but it’s worth persevering to find out what works.