The million-pound question, no matter if you like working from home or dislike it passionately. Even if you don't work from home, you may be sick of your partner or housemates taking over the living room on your day off. While we certainly do not have all the answers about whether working from home is here to stay or we'll be shipped back to offices the minute it is safe to do so, we will discuss what may factor into the decisions and the future of work.
While many of us were trying to figure out Zoom and setting up workspaces in our homes, many workers across the UK were still going to work. Some industries and job roles are not suited to working from home because they demand a physical presence. NHS staff and builders can't work from home, and we have all seen that while roles like teaching technically can, it is more beneficial when done face-to-face.
These roles (if they ever went remote in the first place) will likely go back to in-person as soon as it is safe and remain in-person unless further government guidelines exist.
Some industries have the luxury of choosing whether they want to work in-person, at home, or adopt a hybrid model. Generally, these roles will be office jobs where people can do their work at home using technology just as quickly as if they were in the office. Whether they will return to working in an office, stay at home, or adopt a hybrid approach will boil down to what the company thinks about working from home and, in some ways, what the individual employees feel about working from home.
Every company (and every executive in a company, for that matter) will have an opinion about working from home. Most companies had the technology in place even before 2020 so that parents could work from home or staff members could do work while travelling for business. So, working from home does not cost extra in terms of resources. Many companies would be able to downsize office spaces, or new companies may not have to hire office space at all if their staff work from home.
Companies' leading concerns are the loss of employee productivity and collaboration. They can be valid concerns; it is easier to become distracted while working from home, and many people will do loads of laundry or be listening to a podcast while working. But, no one works solidly for 8 hours when they're in the office either. People get pulled into conversations while they make a cup of tea, daydream, or even surf the internet while in the office. If anything, working from home will shift the focus away from employee presence to productivity. Employees will waste less time chatting at the water cooler or in spontaneous meetings that only serve to waste time.
Employees' opinions vary when it comes to working from home. Some people love it, and some people hate it with a passion. Some of the benefits of working from home for employees are:
There is also the fact that some jobs do not require eight hours a day in the office, and an employee struggles to find enough work to do to fill their requisite hours. While we do not endorse an employee not putting in the hours they are paid to do, the time-based salary model does mean that employees may struggle to tell their managers that they only need five hours a day to do the work they are hired to do (or three days a week). No one wants less pay for the results they create for a company simply because they can do their job more efficiently.
There are several disadvantages to working from home:
Some employees prefer working in an office. They like having the distinction between work and home and the balance it gives their life; sometimes, they may even enjoy having eight hours where they do not see their housemates or partner. Working from home also hampers the ability to form connections with coworkers and therefore does not give employees the natural network they gain from working in an office.
While it is difficult to give a definitive yes or no answer, most companies will adopt a hybrid model, meaning either the whole company will work part-time from home and part-time in the office or employees are given the flexibility to set a split that works for them and the company. A hybrid model will allow employees to choose what works for them in terms of working in an office vs working from home. It will enable more collaboration than strict working from home and means there are less likely to be employees that no one has ever met in person.
Another benefit of a hybrid model is that it allows more flexibility for parents. They no longer have to juggle part-time schedules or flexible hours; they can stay in the job full-time and move up the corporate ladder.
So, seeing as how working from home seems to be here to stay in some form or another, here are our top tips for being more productive working from home:
Create a space for your work with a desk or table, a comfortable chair, and items you need within easy reach. Not only will this help you to be comfortable and not hurt your back, but it will also help you get into work mode when sitting at a table or desk rather than working from bed.
If you do not have a separate space to work from home, you should create a work mood or atmosphere to get your brain into work mode. This could take the form of a little 10-minute ritual to set up your space, like laying out the things you need and making a cup of tea. It could be burning a scented candle to help your brain associate that scent with working. This will help you to create a work-life balance by switching from home mode into work mode and, at the end of your workday, changing back into home mode.
While it is so tempting to work in your pyjamas or a tracksuit, wearing something at least smart casual can help tell your brain that you are working. You can change back into loungewear at the end of the day to switch your brain back into relaxation mode. You do not need to have a full face of makeup or be wearing a suit; wear something a level up from your loungewear. This also means you do not have to race around getting ready for a spontaneous video call.
Allow yourself to enjoy the benefits of working from home, sit outside, and enjoy the sunshine on odd occasions. You can do housework on your lunch break or go for a walk around the block. You could even use your lunch break to do something around the house that you enjoy or spend extra time with your partner or pet. Listen to music you enjoy, dance, and sing along if you want to. Enjoy that you are not in the office and do not have to worry about other people.
Create a to-do list with the three most important things you need to do today. They could be as big or small as you want (as long as they are realistic). Keep this next to your computer and use it to stay on task. A lot of the work we do in corporate jobs is just busy work; checking emails, answering calls, looking over something for a colleague. If you are completing the essential tasks of your role on time, then it doesn't matter if you spent two hours of your workday listening to true crime podcasts.
Humans are pack animals, and we generally like doing things in groups. We are productive in the office because we see other people working around us, making it easier to perform. When you're at home, there is no one else around you working, so it can be challenging to stay on track. A great way around this is a technique called "body doubling," which means doing a task simultaneously as someone else. If you have a partner or housemate working from home, you could work at the same table or in the same room (unless they have a lot of meetings and calls that could drive you mad.) Alternatively, you could use a "study with me" or "work with me" video on YouTube to act as the body double. Try one out and see if it works for you. Some have relaxing music; some have the video's background noise.