Miss Rona dealt us a few heavy blows, but we also developed a new outlook on life. This included working from home. You either love it or hate it. It’s great waking up five minutes before clocking in, sitting with your laptop on the couch – until your dog starts running and barking all around you. Working from home can take its toll on our mental health too (hello, cabin fever), but it also has its wonders. Let’s put this issue to bed (literally and figuratively) and figure out this new way of working.
Many of us are more productive behind our desks when there are fewer distractions. But working from your bed – ahem, working from home – also has its perks:
• Location independence. Working from home allows us the comfort of working wherever, whenever. This is helpful for those from small towns outside of the CBD, those travelling and for those simply seeking more digitally supported dynamics. You can pick up your work in a cafe or any other space when your home office is feeling a little too repetitive.
• Cutting down on commuting. Cutting out the frustration of inching in first gear through traffic helps employees feel more energised for the work day ahead.
• Saving costs … and the planet. WFH means less travel, which means less money spent, which also means less carbon emissions. It saves money in a tough economic climate and brings joy to using a space that is your own and crafted for you.
• Increased happiness. Workers have come to realise that being swamped with work all the time doesn’t need to be a norm, instead you can be productive, eat a healthy lunch, and stop missing your kid’s soccer games.
Many of us working from may home struggle from lack of social interaction and end up feeling depressed or burnout more frequently:
• Lack of socialisation. Those quick trips to and from your colleagues’ desks to discuss a small task, or even where you’re going for lunch, are cut out. You still communicate via online platforms and video conferences, but that in-person feeling and new relationship development
• Overworking. Because your home has also become your workplace, it’s easier to get lost in work and stay seated in front of your computer after hours. This can lead to burnout and unmanageable stress.
• Easily distracted. Some find working from home to be peaceful and quiet, but for others there are too many distractions, especially if they have young children, pets or live with family or room-mates.
• Lacking self-discipline and routine. Staying off social media, not taking extensive breaks, and not doing too many ‘out of office’ tasks can be tough when you’re working from home.
The In-Between Not enjoying working from home can be tough, but loving it too much is also not advisable. How do we settle ourselves and find the balance?
• Talk to your household. Let the people in your household know what you expect from them – set boundaries as to when you can be disturbed and when you can’t: ‘If my door is closed, it means I am in an important meeting’ or ‘When I have my headphones on, I am trying to meet an important deadline’.
• Set physical boundaries. Create physical separations between your work and home space if you can. Try finding creative ways to do this if the use of your space is hybrid. For example, when eating at your desk, light a candle there instead to signal that the use of the room has changed.
• Have a change in scenery. You can have your primary workstation, but relocate to a new environment for a change. Take your work outdoors or to your favourite local coffee shop so you don’t feel cooped up.
• Take clear breaks. Set your break time for the same time every day. If you need to take more frequent breaks, try something like the Pomodoro Method, where you work for 25 minutes, then break for five minutes.
• Give your mind a rest. Working from home can leave us feeling as though we aren’t doing ‘enough’ work. But spending time relaxing isn’t being ‘lazy’ or ‘unproductive’. How many times haven’t you spent a few minutes doing something else in the office or helping a colleague with tasks that are not your own?
• Communicate and plan meet-ups. Keep communication open about your tasks and any difficulties. Plan to have regular meet-ups so you can stay in touch with your team, or meet those you haven’t before.
• Get dressed for work. We are all guilty of working in pyjamas to varying degrees, but getting into the mindset of ‘going to work’ helps you to treat work like work. The mere act of changing into trousers and a blouse does wonders.
• Structure your days. To avoid losing focus and burning out, plan your tasks for the next week. Set out tasks to do each day so that you’re not doing too much on one day and too little on another.
• Work when you’re productive. If your brain starts lagging at 2 pm, do simpler tasks in the afternoon and tackle more intensive tasks in the morning.
• Use your surroundings. There’s no point in trying to fight the fact that you’re at home! Use a timer to do a task and take a break for a few minutes when the time is up. Listen to upbeat music or an insightful podcast to keep you going.
Words by Saadiqah Schroeder