Man, 2020 has hit us hard. Just three months into the year and our have lives turned a full 180 degrees. We have all seen the changes that year has presented to all aspects of our daily lives. Businesses have been forced to adapt and innovate their way of work to maintain operations, like companies in the fashion industry, who have now pivoted to make face masks.
Most people are now working from home, and it looks like things will remain the same going into 2021. Given that we are in the digital era anyways and most work is now done on a computer, how much can things change from working in your office to working in your home, right? It shouldn’t be a big deal. Some employers get nervous when the words "home office" are put on the table. They fear productivity may decrease, issues will appear, or people are not trustworthy to do their job properly if they are not in the same room as their supervisors. Truth is, different studies have shown that most people are more productive when working from home. A lot of businesses are now running even full-time home office operations since there are all sorts of new technologies at our fingertips that facilitate communication and remote work.
Home office pros and cons
- Time saved: Forget about spending from 1 to 3 hours sitting in traffic. No more worrying about being late either to the office or to appointments after work. All that lost time and stress is gone, and now you can invest that time into yourself, your family, and friends.
- Creating a personal working environment: Don't like your office chair? Your desk? In an office, you have to work with what you get most of the time, but at home, you can make your workspace your own. Pick your favorite place at home, find your own furniture, and get that perfect chair that won't hurt your back.
- You define your hours: Extra hours just got a lot easier. You are already at home, you don't need to be in a rush, your family is closer, you can start earlier, or you can spend a few more minutes finishing that last briefing you have for tomorrow’s meeting. Why not, take breaks during the day and make up for it later.
- Casual Friday all week: You can forget about having all your shirts, ties, and suits in order and instead enjoy wearing more casual apparel. While we often joke about "business on top, couch potato on the bottom" for virtual conference calls, we recommend that you get dressed for working from home to keep up with a routine.
- No chit-chat noise: How many times have you had to deal with your coworker chit-chatting while you were on an important conference call? It’s very stressful to be on a call and have all the background noise from the rest of the office. But no more of that at home (unless your little ones decide to join your call!).
- More sunlight and fresh air: Not everyone at the office gets the window, and in fact, most people don't even see the sun until they leave the office. Getting some sunlight, enjoying the weather, and getting some fresh air is very important to relieve some of the stress generated during the day. At home you can always get a glimpse from the windows, enjoy your backyard or take a 5 min rest outside.
- Technical issues: Working in a home office can be great at the beginning, but once you begin having internet issues, hardware or software issues, losing access to your company intranet, or maybe even losing power at home, things can get complicated and stressful.
- 24-hour job: Since you have your office accessible all day long, some days you might find yourself putting in work before or after hours or even on the weekends. However, it's important to set boundaries, even something like the physical barrier of closing your laptop, so that you can separate your work life from home life.
- No immediate feedback: If you are at home and you have a question or important matter you need to discuss, it’s not as easy to solve when you don't have people around you all the time. That's why it's important to use Slack or collaboration tools like Confluence to keep you and your team focused and informed.
- Isolation is not for everyone: We all crave human interaction. Not everyone can handle social distancing very well. Some employees need to feel connected to and appreciated at their workplace. This last point, socializing, is what I believe is the hardest part, especially given the current situation.
Importance of socializing at work
We as individuals need people. We are social beings, and we need that relief from our mental load that social interaction brings. Now, I’m not talking about chatting with coworkers or discussing projects and work; no, I’m talking about us as human beings, sharing our likes and dislikes, just speaking with one another about our weekend, going out for a drink or dinner after the office. We don't have in quite the same way right now, we can’t go to the movie theater anymore, go to the club and dance, have house gatherings or in some cases, even go to the park. We all missed that more than anything, speaking and having fun with one another.
Boost in productivity
Most people work around eight hours a day at their workplace, which is 34% percent of our day at the office. It is important to choose how you spend this big chunk of time in your life: either be confined to your desk focusing solely on work or utilizing some of this time to invest in building your team and work relationships.
It’s all a personal choice and a way of working. Some view socializing as an unnecessary distraction that negatively impacts productivity and wastes time. However, a study conducted by Mckinsey Global Institute shows that productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees.
Communication and collaboration
Did you know that a survey of 400 companies cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year due to a lack of proper communication? Communication is a big deal and a lack thereof can cost you.
When co-workers socialize outside of work, working together becomes more enjoyable and keeps people motivated. That is what Stephen Ufford, the founder of a leading identity and business verification company, Trulioo, has to say. He emphasizes that when employees socialize, this leads to improved communication, a good work ethic, flexibility, and a better understanding of each team member's responsibilities.
“Most good relationships are built on mutual trust and respect.” - Mona Sutphen
This applies to our workspaces and organizations, too. Employees tend to experience a more positive work environment when they trust their managers/organizations.
If you are looking for ways to support your team while working from home, check out our blog post on how to host a Virtual-Bring-Together or learn about how we keep our employees engaged and motivated to live a healthy lifestyle with our Wellness Challenges.