To remote work or not to remote work… That is the question!
It sounds pretty simple on the surface, but when we peel back the covers it is a little more complicated. Is Remote Work something you can do or even want to do? Let’s have a look.
The day the earth stood still….. Or at least the day a lot of people first learned about working from home.
In the Spring of 2020 there was a great deal of opinion expressed concerning remote work versus office work and whether this nascent pandemic might usher in a new era. A good number of smart people prophesied a great reduction in office bound business. Enterprises were going to move to a much more flexible model with a majority of employees working remotely. Commercial rents would be drastically reduced as office footprints shrank and it would be a bad time to be a commercial realtor. Buildings would empty as CEOs and CFOs realized that they could produce the same output with less rental cost. Kaboom! G&A costs are slashed in one stroke and all of a sudden the bottom line looks real purty!
A year later we see a mixed result. Some people have indeed taken to ‘work from home’ like a duck to water, but others have not. There are plenty of employees who were very happy to leave the remote work behind and get back to an office environment. It appears that the fellowship, camaraderie and banter, common to a lot of work spaces, plays a significant part in our well being. I have seen first hand that people are as likely to want to return to the office as to work remotely.
There is also anecdotal evidence of companies asking employees to return to the office simply because working remotely has produced lower performance. Videos of half naked employees caught out while attending video conferences only bolsters the case. Memes extolling the virtues of working in your ‘jammies’ does nothing to help the defense. We may have the technology to allow us to move to a remote work environment, but do we have the emotional capacity to make the move successfully?
We are what we are… and that might not be a remote worker
Personally I think that human kind is a gregarious creature. We need interaction and social activities, and the office environment provides that on a daily basis. The office provides a change from our home environment and from our leisure environment, and that is why it has value.
For some, working remotely may be essential, and for these individuals here are three simple suggestions to help out.
Be Honest with yourself
Do you have to work from home or do you think you want to work from home? This is important, because if you only think you do then you may have a harder time adjusting. If you have to work remotely, well, then you have to and that makes the adjustment essential.
Set a timetable for work
Without a start time, a set break time, a set lunchtime and scheduled end to the work day, you will end up becoming a lot less productive. Believe me… I have tried it. Without a schedule or some monumental discipline you will eventually fall into the easy comfort of reduced performance and dog walking. You will kid yourself that you are hitting the right balance when in fact you are simply prioritizing everything except for the job you are being paid to do. So please ensure that you make work from home work by ‘working’ from home.
Dress for success
A long time ago I worked overseas in the middle of a desert where no one really cared how you presented yourself. My father’s one piece of advise was to shave every day. It was good advice. Don’t fall into the trap of dressing any way you like simply because you are not in an office environment. Getting ready for the day, just as you would if you had to work from an office, is important. Brushed hair, brushed teeth, dressed professionally, eating a proper breakfast. All these small details matter. If you approach this like a vacation it will soon be a vacation, and that doesn’t help anyone.
Remote work, or working from home. Call it what you will. There can definitely be benefits. There may also be drawbacks. Essentially, like most decisions, this is not one to be taken lightly. I think that 2020 may have taught a lot of us that very lesson. It was an idea that people had. Not a very clear idea, just an ephemeral thought really. Suddenly it was foisted upon us and we had to adapt. Now we may have a choice of where and how we work. This is where we need to think carefully about working remotely and if it is a good fit for us as employees and the business entity we work for.