The million-dollar question, no matter if you like working from home or dislike it with a passion. 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 what the future of work may look like.
Some Industries Are Not Suited to Working From Home
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 simply 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 types of 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 there are further government guidelines.
Some Industries Can Choose Whether to Work In-Person, At Home, or a Hybrid
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 with the use of technology just as easily as if they were present 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 think about working from home.
What Companies May Think 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 members of staff could do work while travelling for business. So, working from home does not really cost extra in terms of resources. In fact, 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.
The main concern companies have is loss of employee productivity and loss of 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 they work. 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 or will daydream or even surf the internet while in the office. If anything, working from home will better shift the focus away from being paid for employee presence to employees being paid for the work they do. Less time will be wasted on office gossip or spontaneous meetings that only serve to waste time.
What Employees Think About Working From Home
Employees thoughts vary significantly 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:
- Additional flexibility to help with school drop off and pickups or even just being home to meet the plumber or repair person
- Saved time commuting (especially for people living in big cities) and therefore more time for family
- Ability to run errands or do things around the house on lunchbreaks
- Sleep ins
- No distractions from coworkers or forced team building (some people hate the office culture)
- Quieter working environment in comparison to an open plan office
There is also the fact that some jobs do not require 8 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 work they are paid to do, the salary based on hours worked model does mean that employees may struggle to tell their managers that they only need 5 hours a day to do the work they are hired to do (or 3 days a week). No one wants to be paid less for the results they create for a company simply because they can do their job more efficiently.
There are a number of disadvantages to working from home:
- Harder to quickly get someone’s opinion on something or spontaneous collaboration
- Slacker employees have no supervision to motivate them to work
- More difficult to track if employees are on time and their work output
- Lack of social aspect for employees who like the office atmosphere
- Additional emails and chat functions could bog employees down in communication instead of work
Some employees just 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 like having 8 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 that they gain from working in an office.
So, Will Working From Home Ever End?
While it is difficult to give a definitive yes or no answer, it looks like most companies will adopt a hybrid model. This will either mean that the whole company will work part-time from home and part-time in the office or that 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 allows more collaboration than strict working from home and means there is 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.
How to Be Productive Working From Home
So, seeing as how working from home seems to be around to stay in some form or another, here are our top tips for being more productive working from home:
- Have a working from home setup – Create a space for your work, where you have 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 you are sitting at a table or desk rather than working from bed.
- Create a work atmosphere – If you do not have a separate space to work from home, you should create a work mood or atmosphere in order to get your brain into work mode. This could take the form of a little 10-minute ritual that you do 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 switching back into home mode.
- Wear clothes – 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. At the end of the day you can change back into loungewear to switch your brain back into relaxation mode. You do not need to have a full face of makeup or be wearing a suit; just 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.
- Take advantage of being at home – Allow yourself to enjoy the benefits of working from home and sit outside and enjoy the sunshine on odd occassions. You can do a home work out 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 and dance and sing along if you want to. Enjoy the fact that you are not in the office and do not have to worry about other people.
- Create a to-do list – 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 important tasks of your role on time, then it doesn’t matter if you spent 2 hours of your workday listening to true crime podcasts.
- Find a body double – Humans are pack animals, and we generally like doing things in groups. We are more productive in the office because we see other people working around us, so it makes it easier to work. When you’re at home, there is no one else around you working, so it can be difficult to stay on track. A great way around this is a technique called “body doubling,” which means doing a task at the same time as someone else. If you have a partner or housemate working from home, then 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 just have the video’s background noise.