Not too long ago, working from home was an exclusive privilege, reserved mostly for the elite class of self-employed professionals and creatives. It used to be for mostly the freelancers and highly-skilled white-collar workers like lawyers and accountants. Only 7% of workers in the U.S. had access to a “flexible workplace” benefit or telework before the pandemic, according to a report by the Pew Research Center based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent National Compensation survey.
Today, it is possible to work at home for almost any regular corporate job. This is due to the coronavirus pandemic. It accelerated the trend of working from home. Many companies switched their mode of operations to a remote work structure to protect their employees from contracting the virus and to minimize disruptions to their processes. According to a report by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, remote work in the U.S. has grown by 91% in the last decade. Companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Skillshare, Slack, VMware e.t.c, have shifted to long-term remote work. Some of these companies have also taken additional measures to ease the transition process for their employees.
At ParallelScore, we adopted a hybrid approach due to the type of work we do. Our goal has been to create a flexible work environment for our employees so their productivity rates improve. Employees are allowed to either work remotely or from the studio. They also stay connected with the use of technology. For us, it’s not the hours you work but rather if you are getting your work done.
Creating an effective work from home experience
Working from home can be a double-edged sword. It can be a mixed bag of experiences. One day you might hate it, and the next day you love it. Thus, creating a successful work from home experience requires you to curate your environment and also consider your personal needs.
Implications of merging work life and living environments
“Work-life merge”, a term coined recently by Facebook executive Emily White, explains a new lifestyle in which work and leisure are no longer neatly compartmentalized but seamlessly jumbled up together. [The Guardian (UK broadsheet newspaper) 01 Jan 2012]. This describes how work and leisure have metamorphosed into a new way of life. There is no longer a clear distinction between the two – they’re now merging into a reality.
As people go further in their jobs and careers, remote working is becoming an increasing trend. People are now rumoured to be for and against this rising phenomenon. Although some people enjoy “remotely” working, there are also many who find it frustrating. Let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of building on in order to learn more.
Working from home offers many benefits such as:
- Convenience: Working remotely is convenient – and even better when you can work on your own schedule. You don’t have someone constantly looking over your shoulder trying to monitor your activities. Remote working allows you to perform your duties on your computer from the comfort of your home and this, in turn, lets you meet your personal needs and fit your work around their personal life. It’s also great for people, who want to explore and engage in the activities they enjoy during the day.
- It allows for flexibility: Working from home gives you the freedom to choose your work hours and your working environment. You don’t have to be physically present in an office to get the job done. It allows for flexible working hours as well as extra health benefits such as more sleep, spending quality time with family, exercising or preparing healthy meals. You have more control over your time. Your work timings could either be earlier or later in the day or even at weekends. This increases job satisfaction and productivity.
- You are free from co-worker interruptions: Working from home allows you to be more active and focused on your job. You’re also able to avoid office distractions like gossip, frequent breaks, etc. It gives you more time to focus on what you’re doing. It’s also a good way to get more work done.
- It reduces the stress of commuting: Working remotely offers the chance to save more time and money. You no longer have to face traffic and other inconveniences while commuting from your office to your home and vice versa. No need for daily trips or long car rides anymore. It allows you to get rid of those pesky parking tickets and avoid the hassles that come with driving or taking public transit such as struggling to find parking, car repairs, dealing with traffic, etc. You can use this time to do things around the house or work on a hobby that will improve your creativity.
- It Increases productivity – Studies have proven that working from home accelerates the productivity of employees. It equally boosts your morale. You can pay more time with your family and watch your children grow while you work. If you work from home, you can have your schedule and decide when to sleep or focus on the upcoming project. Working from home will make you feel better about yourself and less stressed.
- It Improves employee retention – Telecommuting is a great way to attract new talented employees, as well as keep your current employees happy and motivated. It promotes employee retention due to its flexibility. Businesses could leverage this in the job market because some of their competitors don’t even give the option of working from home to their staff. Besides, when employees are given the option to work remotely, they’re more likely to stick around.
There are obvious perks and allure to working from home such as freeing yourself from the commute, lack of office politics and dress code and no office equipment among others. But that doesn’t come without its cons. There are some disadvantages of working from home which include:
- Mental stress: Working from home can be relatively stressful for people who are finding it hard to balance their work and personal life. This may lead to working longer hours, therefore resulting in added stress and burnout. Imagine staring at the clock and realising it’s 9:00 pm and you haven’t had dinner. Whereas in a workplace setting, there may be a clear delineation between life and work. Once you clock out, you can go home and live your life. Also, working remotely can be a bit lonely. You are not always with other people who share similar interests.
- Work/life balance challenges: Working from home may not be everyone’s favourite cup of tea. Some employees may prefer the system and routine an office environment offers them as well as the personal interaction with colleagues. Those, who fall in this category, may feel isolated and unmotivated to complete their tasks. working from home also comes with some temptations like taking mid-day naps, watching Netflix series, spending time with family, etc. In a survey released by Glassdoor, nearly 1,000 American employees were asked about their top concerns when working from home between March 11 and March 13, 2020. The survey reported that roughly 32% of employees stated that watching TV is a top distraction when working remotely while 27% noted that child care is a huge distraction. These challenges affect the productivity of the employees.
- Workspace/technology requirements: Lack of office equipment may pose a problem. The cost of setting up a home office and providing suitable equipment such as laptops, mobile phones and other IT equipment is relatively not cheap. There are a number of costs involved when it comes to setting up your own office at home. First, you’ll need to find a suitable place in the main part of the house that is far enough from any other people living in it, otherwise, there will be a risk of disturbing them while you are working. You’re also going to need to get all the necessary equipment, such as desks, chairs, tables, and other furniture. As an employee, you may miss some of the office equipment you could use for work.
- Home distractions: Working at home also means that you’re likely to get distracted by your spouse, children, or other family members. Not everyone’s household offers good working conditions. Although working from home eliminates office distractions, if you lack a suitable dedicated working area at home, your attention may be diverted by a family member or even household noises emanating from dishwashers, doorbells etc. Besides, it is difficult to set boundaries when working from home. For example; you may not be able to say “no” when a family member or friend asks for your help and you end up placing their needs over yours during your working hours.
Importance of building a dedicated workspace
When you work from home, it is essential to build some sort of workspace. This will have a surprising effect on your productivity and efficiency. Let’s look at the reasons why building a workspace is important:
- Improves productivity and reduces stress: It’s important to have a dedicated workspace, this way you can feel more focused and inspired to work. It increases your productivity and makes you stay sane. It provides the opportunity to draw the line between home and work environment. It allows you to be more organized and you can also concentrate on your activities. Having a defined workspace, where your tools and supplies are at your fingertips helps to reduce stress, puts you in the right frame of mind and reduces stress. It allows you to turn on and turn off the work mode mindset.
- Encourages discipline: Chances are, you will not lose discipline when you create a good home office environment. To be productive, you will need to work in an environment that is distraction-free and organized. It helps you stay disciplined and to achieve the most important tasks throughout the day. A workspace that is separate from the rest of your household will allow you to have full focus on your work tasks. It helps you build a routine and be able to schedule work time for optimal efficiency. It eliminates any unwanted and unnecessary distractions.
- Reduces distractions: Building a dedicated workspace makes you less distracted and more committed to completing your tasks. You get less distracted by your family members and other household noises. Without the crowd and noises, you’re able to concentrate more and pull off quality work. Also, a dedicated workspace is essential to maintain your professional distance between your work and your life.
In our next article, we’ll look at how our teams work together, apart. We all have unique skills to bring to the table, but how can we perform our duties remotely? We will meet again in a few hours and two clicks! Feel free to check out our previous article in the meantime.