Home Sweet Office 2020/05/05

Seven reasons why working from home works

Some observations from my experiences working at home over the last few weeks.

Full disclosure, this is a subjective reflection. It’s decidedly and intentionally biased, because I’m a home body. I love being at home. I love having my family near to me.

It’s been a privilege to be able to work from home. I’m deeply grateful.

To have a home. A garden. A family. A wife who’s taken the lead role as home schoolteacher and principal. The means to facilitate remote working and remain connected with my outside world. Comfortably.

These are my top seven reasons why working from home has worked for me.

 

1. Productivity

My work time at home has been significantly more productive. Especially with regards to ‘thinking’ and focus work. I’m able to get into a flow state*1 much quicker and remain there for longer periods. Although there are the obvious home distractions, I’ve managed to navigate and handle these. Better than I do the daily office distractions.

Also, the nature of the work I’ve accomplished has been a lot less reactive. More forward thinking. Strategic. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this in an office environment. Yes, circumstances are different, they necessitate this type of work. But it’s not a given, that just because it’s needed that one achieves it. Being at home has definitely facilitated these times successfully.

 

2. Time

I’ve always had an issue with time. Regrettably. I’m habitually late. I can’t seem to get ‘the time needed between meetings and commitments’ right. Never leaving enough. Working from home and telecommuting*2 has reduced these gaps. There’s now less demand for travel and commuting, to and from work or between meetings. There’s no official South African statistics available yet. According to a recent MIT study*3, 34% of Americans who usually commute to work clocked in from home during the first week of April.

The result – I have more time. Literally.

Furthermore, there’s flexibility in how I use my time now. The 09:00-17:00 workday was already fading. However, there was still an expectation (placed on myself and inevitably others) that I ‘should’ be working and productive during certain set times. The standard, fixed time workday culture was intrinsically ingrained in me. This is no longer.

Yes, my working hours are all over the place. I’m working longer and later than ever before. This is a discipline and balance that I’ll need to find through trial and error. Aside from the fact that I’m enjoying my work, and am happier to work longer.

 

3. Stress 

A friend and colleague @Paul Krost, shared an interesting thought that resonated with me.

We live an existence fraught with stress and anxiety. This affects us both emotionally and physically. Impacting our sleep, diet, health and relationships. The circumstances we’re living through are a real concern. A worry. But the ‘worry’ seems less harmful and toxic than the burden of stress and anxiety.

Being at home and benefitting from everything I’ve listed contributes positively to managing stress.

 

4. Family

I see more of my family. We get to have a walk or ride. A jump on the trampoline. An afternoon garden soccer or cricket match. We share more meals together. Cook together. Clean and garden together. The list goes on. These interactions happen midweek, midday. Serendipitous.

I’ve even learnt about TikTok, Fortnite and Minecraft and I’ve (almost) accepted these. They’re my kid’s tools to communicate and connect with their peers. (A story for another day)

 

5. Safety

We exist in a society where we’re exposed to crime, violence, poverty, racism and Antisemitism. Disease.

I feel safest at home. For my family and me.

 

6. Kindness

There seems to be more kindness, compassion and time for one another. A humanness. Patience. Understanding smiles when my screaming child races past the Zoom camera, whilst I’m on an important call.

An effort to give, to those less fortunate. Of reaching out. A willingness to help and extend ourselves, a little more than we would have ordinarily.

I’m even more willing to ask for help.

 

7. Comfort

My home is an extension of me. It reflects my personality. My essence. My comforts. Being at home I get to spend more time in spaces that inspire me and make me happy.

 

Final Thoughts

These don’t mean I don’t like to or want to go out. I enjoy being out. I’m passionate about nature. I thrive on having personal connections with people. I cherish my friends, work colleagues, running mates and whiskey clubs. I enjoy a good restaurant meal as much as the next person. However, the reality we’re faced with is that there’s going to be less of these social interactions in the coming future. With this new normal, we’ll need to adapt to and embrace our time at home.

These are just some of the benefits of working from home that have stood out for me. The good that’s come from the coronavirus pandemic. Once it passes, I pray we’ll remember and continue to live these positive choices.

 

 

*1 In positive psychology, a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity - https://positivepsychology.com/theory-psychology-flow/

 

*2 Telecommuting is the practice of working from home for a business and communicating through the use of a personal computer equipped with modem and communications software - https://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/telecommuting

 

*3 Full details of the MIT study are available at - https://john-joseph-horton.com/papers/remote_work.pdf