Remote work. Advantages, Disadvantages and practical strategies.
The Covid-19 pandemic in a very short time reshaped how companies operate and how we work. This crisis has forced many to work from home. This transition has been tough. The boundaries between your career and your home life are blurred.
As a career counsellor in Johannesburg I help my clients with these transitions. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of working from home. I will also provide some practical strategies to help you with this transition.
Advantages of remote work
Flexible work hours.
Working from home provides you with flexible hours. You have more freedom in choosing how to structure your day. This of course depends on how you and your team decide.
Your time commuting to work has also decreased.
This leaves more time for activities that provides you with more meaning and purpose. Activities like exercise, making a home-cooked meal or spending quality time with family.
You work in your own custom environment.
Working from home provides you with the ability to design your own office space.
Do you like listening to music when working? Now, working remotely provides you with the opportunity to listen to your favourite album on full blast!
Less time in traffic
Research suggests that commuting is one of the largest contributors to job dissatisfaction. Remote work provides you with the opportunity to cut down on this time.
With less time in traffic you have more time for your passions.
Disadvantages for remote work
Our homes tend to provide us with more distractions during the workday. For example, during an online meeting, nobody is checking if you are on Instagram. At work, Netflix is not there to distract you.
If your family is also required to work from home, they can also provide you with more distractions.
The stress and uncertainty that the pandemic provides can also serve as an internal distraction. Trying to make sense of these uncertain times can lesson your productivity, especially at home.
Sticking to a productive routine
Many workers feel that there has been a disruption in their work routine.
Driving to work, for instance, provide you with a natural cue that signalled you need to get into ‘work mode’.
At home it is tempting to have a meeting in your pyjamas, making it very difficult to maintain a productive routine.
The feedback loops and communication styles are different when working remotely. At the office, you could pop into your colleague’s office to clarify something.
Proximity at the office also provides a sense of security.
Working from home makes many workers feel distant from what is going on in the company. This distance leads to uncertainty and anxiety which then hampers your mood.
Practical tips to work from home
Here are some practical tips to work from home:
Manage your distractions
“If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are.” Call Newport – Deep Work
It is important to manage your distractions. Your ability to do ‘deep’ and meaningful work is directly correlated to your productivity and satisfaction. Part of this process is to manage your environmental distractions.
James Clear provides some great advice. In a nutshell, make your distractions unattractive or difficult to attain.
For instance, unplug your television and hide the remote. That 20-second buffer to switch on the TV can stop you from binge-watching your favourite show.
Set up your workspace for success
Make your workspace conducive to what you are trying to achieve. If you need to make a lot of calls have everything ready to do this successfully.
Have your headset, notepad, pen and the necessary documents ready.
Try not to mix spaces that have different purposes. For instance, don’t let the place where you sleep be the place where you work. Have a designated workspace in your home.
Take your breaks
Make sure that you take your lunch and tea breaks. This can do wonders for your anxiety and mindset.
Little breaks during the day create some mental space to keep perspective, despite the workload and stress.
Working from home makes it very tempting to check your emails or read a report while having your lunch. You then never switch off.
Get out and move
There are many health risks associated with sitting all day. You are also moving less.
Worldwide the daily amount of steps people take are down. So you have to be more purposeful in the way you add movement to your day.
Schedule a daily time where you go for a walk, do a workout. Basically, just get your move on. Use the time you were supposed to commute to move.
Prof Tsedal Neeley provides the following advice that summarises these tips:
“Develop rituals and have a disciplined way of managing the day. Schedule a start and an end time. Have a rhythm. Take a shower, get dressed, even if it’s not what you’d usually wear to work, then get started on the day’s activities. If you’re used to moving physically, make sure you build that into your day. If you’re an extrovert and accustomed to a lot of contact and collaboration with others, make sure that still happens”The bou