Working from Home or Living at Work?

Working from home (WFH) is experiencing an increase in uptake throughout the world thanks to the Covid-19 epidemic. The days of chatting over a coffee with your colleagues about flexible working and the joy of not waking up at 6 am in winter and travelling to the office have become a reality for some.  In light of recent announcements by businesses such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and Fujitsu, along with official Government advice encouraging us to stay put, home looks set to become the new office for many of us.

Remote Working – Is It For Me?

Working from home could literally mean just that, or it could mean working outside of the office.  It doesn’t always mean you work alone; the spectrum of remote work is varied and flexible.  Some people combine remote working, maybe from home or a shared hub, with a few days in the office; whilst others might never meet their colleagues face to face, preferring to build relations over the phone, or by video calls.  Remote working means you can tailor the day to your requirements. Perhaps you’re most productive in the evening rather than first thing, or maybe the school run’s important and you want to start work after that’s done.

WFH Employers’ Benefits

Employers are beginning to understand why remote work can be useful for their businesses with Twitter’s chief executive officer, Jack Dorsey, announcing that its employees can work from home “forever”.  This is a great example of a company’s employees being empowered to take advantage of remote working.  Twitter has sanctioned WFH, but will also look to provide office space for those who want it.  Saving on office costs, a more content workforce and increased productivity are all attractive gains and, with technology enabling us to stay in touch and work well remotely, it’s likely we’ll see more companies move towards this long after the Covid situation (hopefully) resolves.

5 Easy Tips for Smarter Home Working

#1 – Workspace Boundaries

You may be experiencing less than ideal working conditions; the dining table acting as your new official office space, or using your ironing board as a stand-up desk (which is actually a great idea), and it can often leave you feeling like you’ve not got much choice in where you work at home.  Boundaries are incredibly important and it’s vital to clearly separate work from home, so there are defined areas used for non-work activities.  If you can, don’t work in the bedroom, especially not in bed; this area is for sleeping and you don’t want to be reminded of work here.  Try and avoid the sofa so this can be reserved as a relaxation area.  It’s also a good idea to pack your laptop away at the end of the day so it’s out of sight when home life kicks in, giving you the clarity to distinguish between where the work day ends and normal home life can resume.

#2 – Routine

Whilst it can be tempting to spend the working day in your PJs, not only does it blur the boundaries between work, home, awake time and sleep time, it unbalances routine.  If you used to work 9 am – 5 pm in the office, then stick to this where you can, if your lunch break was at 1.30 pm with a walk, again try and maintain this.  Even something as simple as drinking tea on a workday morning and coffee on the weekends can separate work and home life and keep a routine in place. 

#3 – Wellbeing

Wellbeing; the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.  Who doesn’t want this?  We need to find a balance between wearing comfortable clothes as part of our home life and being comfortable during our working hours.  Think about what you wear, where you sit and the food you eat.  Make sure you take regular breaks; look out the window, walk around the garden or your local area for 10 minutes. These little tricks can reduce stress and increase our creativity levels.

It’s well established that mental health issues can affect anyone and employers can help address this by supporting their employees’ wellbeing; whether it’s access to an online exercise programme, setting up regular team catch-ups or providing home working kit, like a chair / keyboard.

#4 – Technology

We couldn’t not mention tech, could we!?  The right technology can improve the experience of working from home. Online communication tools can help keep teams connected and at Qozo we use them all.  Traditionally, those who worked remotely often felt that their hard work went unnoticed, so it’s important to recognise each other and to share successes, even if it is entirely online.   

Whilst the lack of noise for some of us working from home is a positive, some find it too quiet.  One of the current hot topics around WFH is the use of background noise apps.  Red Pipe has a selection of noises available including ringing phones, rain on a window and the hum of an air-conditioner.  Another website called I Miss the Office gives users the ability to adjust the number of colleagues in earshot.  The more “crowded” the office, the higher the noise intensity, with laughter, chatter, whistling and even the chewing of snacks available as part of the office soundtrack.

#5 – Socialise

Stephen Porges is a psychiatry professor who developed the polyvagal theory that’s used in treating trauma.  He shed light on understanding how bodies respond to context; a scared individual doesn’t attend a stressful meeting with a nervous system that’s going to function at 100%.  Porges makes clear that we’re not machines that are detached from our thoughts and feelings.  COVID-19 and new ways of working have introduced more fear and uncertainty for many of us and whilst the polyvagal theory is specifically for trauma, we can learn from it that a curiosity in people’s voices, in their facial expressions and their posture, creates an interest in the other. 

We are attuned to the shifts in others’ emotions and working remotely can leave us disconnected when our brains were fundamentally built to help us be part of a tribe.  It’s important we take time to speak with our colleagues; it can be a helpful stress reliever and is especially important if someone lives alone. 

How are your WFH experiences? Take part in our Forms survey and let us know!

Sam Southey, Customer Onboarding at Success at Qozo