Whilst a lot of employers have not naturally warmed to the idea of allowing employees to work from from home, after being 'strongly advised' to only go to work if absolutely essentially, I think there has been some positive that has come from the Corona Virus that we have been unexpectedly hit with. If nothing else, it has forced / encouraged companies not only to entrust their staff, but to look at remote working set ups in a way that gets the best out of a situation, with everyone in mind. It can be done and moving forward, may become the new norm....We need to embrace change and consider these new ways of working, in order to keep up with the ever changing world.
When I first started working from home, I must admit, I wasn't overly convinced that it was the most productive way to get much done. This could have been because I was set up with only my laptop, at my dining room table and the distractions of 'home' around me. In addition, I didn't feel confident that my employer fully trusted that I was actually doing any work whilst I was at home...I therefore spent a lot of wasted time, proving that I was working - either calling to 'report in' or 'touch base', emailing updates of tasks achieved or productive conversations had, rather than perhaps focussing my energy on just doing the job at hand and drawing inspiration without the distraction from the outside world or office environment.
I have worked in target driven environments for most of my career, so results speak for themselves. KPI's aside, if I have ever been given a monetary target, my personal aim has always been to smash it! With this in mind, the only way to achieve the end result, has been to work hard. The day I realised that I didn't have to work in the 'traditional' office environment to achieve my own targets, was the day home working really started to have a positive impact on my work / life balance.
In order to achieve the work life balance however, I have had to routine the way I work from home, to keep motivated and on top of my game.
Number 1 - Set yourself up with a dedicated office space - whilst not everyone has the benefit of a separate study / office, a dedicated area where you can go to work, away from the distractions of 'quickly loading the dishwasher' or 'doing a load of washing' is really important.
Number 2 - Stick to a routine, even if you only work from home on the occasion. Try and get up at your normal time and stick to your work routine - this will prevent you from getting into the habit of rolling out of bed onto your chair and not being ready to start your day with the right mindset! I am not suggesting getting fully 'office' dressed, because I am a real advocate of working from home in a tracksuit - comfort over style, when nobody can see!
Number 3 - One of the main benefits to working from home for me, especially as I have a family with a frantic daily school run and a dog walk to incorporate before 9am, is the fact that I can cut out commuting time and of course....avoid rush hour traffic - one of the most stressful ways to start a day, is by getting stuck in traffic and then racing against time, to find a car parking space near work, dashing to the office in inappropriately high, uncomfortable shoes, quite possibly in the pouring rain...all before 9am, when work has officially started - Apart from starting the day feeling exhausted, there is certainly no chance grabbing a quick cup of tea, after 'sauntering in' with no seconds to spare....Need I say more!
Number 4 - Brain space, to be creative and more effective - for some, I can see why working from home full time, may not be an option - I, like many, love interacting with people and if I work with like minded people, the interaction is more often motivating as opposed to distracting. That being said, there are times when working from home can be really useful, especially when you have a piece of work or a project that needs to be focussed on or completed within an agreed time frame. Being able to just focus on your work can often mean that you can get far more done, in a shorter space of time. Think of the distractions that are presented in a work environment....and that is not just when you are saying good morning, or offering someone a cup of tea / coffee!
Number 5 - Lastly, from an employers point of view - running a business comes with such financial commitments, that if you could cut back on even a proportion of the running costs of an office, this could mean shifting some of the pressure away from 'getting results' to pay the bills and more towards getting the most out of your teams, for everyone's benefit. Office overheads can be reduced if not everyone needs to have a desk at all times, thus saving space. hot desking set ups and shared office space is becoming a more popular way to work - not only for small businesses, but for larger businesses to reduce their overheads whilst still providing a vibrant, dedicated space for staff to come together to work.
From a recruitment perspective - I have spent the past 18 months encouraging my clients to recruit with a more open minded approach, in order to attract the best talent available. Flexible working hours and remote working to name just a few cost effective incentives, certainly enables employers to attract the best talent available out there....My advice is to accept and get on with it, before it becomes the expectation. If nothing else, it will help make you stand out above your competitors, who are still set in the traditional working ways.