To a lot of people the idea of remote working conjures ideas of lying in a hammock on a beach with a cocktail in one hand and a laptop in the other. Last year I had my first taste of remote working and unfortunately the reality was a little less exotic.I’ve always had office based jobs-never particularly liked any of them but hey they paid the bills. This particular job had always been office based too, however I was TUPEd into a new company and lots of changes were introduced. One of these changes was that I was able to work from home (WFH) twice a week.Now I say working from home, but theoretically I could work anywhere that had a decent internet connection. Immediately visions of coffee shop mornings and pub garden afternoons appeared and then quickly left. I need to be able to have a environment where I can concentrate (a lot of my job requires precise attention to detail) and to be able to work without fear of revealing sensitive information (I work with protected documents). Well that was fine, my spare bedroom would do, and of course one of the perks about remote working is that you don’t actually have to leave the house.
On my first day WFH, everything went wrong. I couldn’t connect to the secure company network, I couldn’t open certain programs, my WIFI decided to go painfully slow and yet I had an amazing day; I took more care with my work, was less easily distracted and attempted different tasks when my usual ones were limited by internet. And I was much much more productive.
Productivity gets talked about a lot in regards to remote working; employers envision their staff sitting around watching Netflix with the work laptop cast aside. However, when I was WFH I felt like I had to prove myself and use my time properly. In the office everyone can see what you’re doing, and you don’t worry about, but at home when one task finished, I was much more proactive in finding another. When I spoke with colleagues they agreed that they got far more done and felt far more proactive at home.
And the long coffee breaks and chats to colleagues don’t really exist in remote working, in my office it is pretty common for people to disappear for 15 minutes at a time to make a drink or go to the restroom but when WFH that just felt unnecessary. In fact on my first day I worked pretty much straight through the day with just a short lunch and been able to finish before 4pm. During the day I’d been able to put dinner in the oven and done little bits and bobs but I hadn’t wasted any time.
And the best thing was by the end of the day, I wasn’t tired. Usually by the end of the week I’m so tired, I finish work, crash on the sofa and fall asleep by 8pm. WFH meant I got an extra hour in bed and I didn’t face the 45 minute commute each way. I also meant that I didn’t spend all day giving my energy to various people. I found this to be quite important, whilst I enjoy being around people most of the time, being around people all day, supporting them, training them is exhausting. Especially if they aren’t positive or supportive towards you. Being able to be selective with who I gave my energy to left me feeling refreshed and happier for the weekend.
All together WFH has given me a better work/life balance, which I supposed is the purpose -alongside reducing business overheads! I spend more time actually working when at work, whilst simultaneously spend more time actually in my home, and thanks to no commute, more free time. And one of the most unexpected things is that I feel more empowered in my work, I can set my own schedule for the day; I can work from Starbucks or the local library if i want, I can run errands if need be or just be home to receive important deliveries. It has gone some way to allow me to make my home life a more central focus again, rather than something that has to be fitted around my job.