Welcome to the first segment of my new blog feature, Let’s talk about… short opinion pieces on a variety of different topics. I have plans to discuss relationships, work, things that are happening or general topics I, or you, find interesting. By day, I am an HR professional (Associate CIPD) with a particular interest in organisational development, employee engagement and wellbeing. I’ve looked on in interest as the world of work has stayed home, how I think remote working will become engrained in the 9-5 plus, my personal experience working remotely and starting a new role remotely.
Pre-2020, working from home was a luxury that was limited to most high level managers, or the ‘trusted’ few. The corporate world was stuck in a, broadly speaking, older generation of, and style of management whose principles were that any opportunity an employee was given to take advantage, they would. As innovative organisations introduced working from home policies and encouraged flexible working, those sat squashed on public transport, on their three hour round-trip commute, or those stuck in traffic heading home to a pile of washing, longed for the ability to work in their slippers. It was very much a wouldn’t that be nice, as you tried to dig your car out of 3ft of snow.
Whilst Covid-19 brought unbearable sadness, isolation and disappointment after disappointment, there have been some perks. The culture shift around remote working became life-saving and necessary with organisations having no choice other than to adapt to a new way of working. Twelve months ago, you wouldn’t have believed that ‘you’re on mute’ would become one of the most used phrases in business life, or seeing everyone in your team’s living rooms would become the norm.
Some people love it, other’s hate it. Some people haven’t left the house for weeks on end, and others are in the best daily routine they’ve ever been in, but it’s been proven that it works, it’s sustainable for businesses, CEO’s everywhere have pound-signs in their eyes with the prospect of less outgoings on accommodation. As business now re-assess their Covid-19 recovery plan, I have no doubt that there will be a huge pressure to keep remote working in some form or another.
Until I changed jobs in November, I was used to a big rowdy office, full or big characters, where we were always laughing or discussing something and when I knew I was going to a job home working, all day, every day, I was a bit nervous about how I would get on. Thankfully technology has given everyone a helping hand, I use Microsoft Teams, and what you can actually do on it, is fantastic. I was also surrounded by a supportive team who were well in the swing of remote working when I joined. It was a big daunting sitting waiting to go on video calls with people I’d never met before, or feel like I was constantly messaging people asking questions but I tried to remind myself that the same discomfort is present in an office when you’re new too.
Three months on, I really like home working. I’m in a good routine, which I think is key, and I’m lucky that I have personal circumstances that makes home working easier e.g. – I have space, I don’t have children that I need to home-school, I’m relatively confident with technology and I don’t live alone, so I’m still seeing people. I find meetings are much more productive, the way you work is completely different so you have more time for yourself, it’s easier to balance your home life because you’re not walking in at 6pm exhausted, having the dinner to make, lunches to make for the next day, the bins to empty, the list goes on.
Sometimes I do feel myself a bit camera shy if I have two or three days without a call, I notice that I can feel a bit of dread just before I go on but I try and combat this by making sure I’m calling someone every second day at least, even if it’s just for ten minutes to catch up, so I’m not getting out of the way of it. I struggle sometimes when there’s other people in the house because I’m used to my own routine, I try and make sure there’s at least one day a week when I’m in the house alone all day, that allows me the time I need to be selfish when working, and charge my social batteries. I’ve also had to vastly improve my small talk skills when waiting for others to join meetings or when the internet slow, Watched anything good lately? Is a favourite.
It looks like working from home will be a permanent solution to a, hopefully, temporary problem. While we’re not designed to be cadged up in the house all the time, this is the first step to the concept of working from anywhere which will open a lot of doors with those who don’t live, or can’t move to big cities. As the way we work changes, home working may be the first step towards a four day working week due to increased productivity, longer working hours due to lack of commute and more efficient ways of working.
Do not fear social butterflies, while I doubt majority of us will ever go back to a five day in the office week, I think we’ll move to a blended model of home and office working. Not everyone loves home working and personal circumstances are very relevant but I believe the key to successfully home working is a good routine and once the recovery plans are underway, employers need to focus on employee wellbeing in a remote setting.
If you would like to know more about my daily routine working from home, or what it was like changing jobs in the middle of a pandemic, please leave me a comment below.