The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a shift in workplace operations with many companies working from home and others fast-tracking their digital strategies to adapt to the changing times. If you have been working from home, you might have realized like everything else, it has its pros and cons.
When starting out, you might have thought that this will be your ultimate work-life balance dream come true. You had pictured yourself finding time to discover hidden hobbies and interests while perfecting on your KPIs as an employee. By now you might have realized how hard that is. This is because working from home doesn’t necessarily guarantee work life balance. Here is why.
You’re on the Job 24/7
Flexibility looks so good on paper, adapting it is a whole different story. Remote working and flexible working hours comes with a fluid working schedule. The usual 9-5 gives you a fixed schedule that helps you plan around the available time to get your tasks done and to take a break at the end of the day.
Working remotely requires you to stay connected all the time. You will need to be more responsive and take on more workload than the usual 9-5. If you feel like you have been putting more hours, this could be the reason why. You need to be more productive than usual to convince your boss that you are working. This, of course, translates to more work done.
Working Remotely is Lonely
Going to the office allows you to meet different people in your day-to-day. The watchman at your gate, different people in traffic, the lady who serves tea at your office, your colleagues and even friends later over drinks.
By the time you get home, you have had at least five interactions with different people throughout the day. The interpersonal interactions add value to your life. You get inspired, encouraged, even angered or tickled. This creates a rich mix of your daily life unlike the current interactions on video calls, emails and phone calls. It is even lonelier if you live alone.
Your Sleeping and Eating Patterns Change
Following a regular schedule ensures that your eating and sleeping patterns are regular and followed. You tend to sleep on time most of the time because you have to be up bright and early for work the next day. It is also easy to plan your meals and follow a routine because they just fit in an already existing schedule.
Working from home, on the other hand, has its numerous distractions and the notion of abundant time. You find it easier to click on the next Netflix episode with each episode becoming more interesting than the last till its almost dawn. As for food, you might find yourself either with little or no time to eat or eating all time.
Your Home is no Longer Your Haven
Take a look at your current work station. Do you remember what used to be there? Probably not. Your home used to be the haven you come to at the end of the day to unwind after ‘a long day at work’. Working from home merges work and life into a seamless day-long activity that becomes difficult to untangle over time.
Waking up and working in bed is perfect for the first couple of weeks. It takes a toll on you when your workstation (your bed) is also the place that should give you relaxation. Research shows that light from computers and TV in the bedroom increases artificial light exposure and erodes your mental association between your bedroom and sleep. This is why you should create a clear distinction between your home work station and the rest of your home, difficult as this might seem.
There are More Distractions
On a normal day, there are many distractions in the office that could adversely affect your productivity. Now, imagine those distractions wrapped in the familiarity of your home and comfort zone, and you have the potential of your work productivity dropping to dangerous levels.
It is also easy to experience transfer of productivity from your current work tasks to other tasks around your home. It could start with the temptation to declutter your desk, then you realize that your bedroom needs decluttering too. Soon you are spring-cleaning.
By the time you realize you have not touched your work the day is spent. You then get into this mad rush trying to finish off your day’s tasks before the evening stand-up meeting with your boss and department. This will obviously affect the quality of your output. If it becomes a habit, it affects your weekly, monthly and quarterly performance.
Is there any hope?
If you recently started working from home, you will identify with one or more challenges mentioned above. If you are a veteran remote worker, you have probably found a way of dealing with the challenges.
If you are having problems with productivity while working from home, this article here will provide guidance on staying focused.
If you are facing distractions and you are having trouble keeping up with tasks and basically staying sane amid the confusion, this article is very resourceful on finding structure in an irregular working schedule.
The most important thing to remember is that finding your optimal working environment is key. Peak performance is a combination of different factors and as long as you find out what works for you, it won’t matter whether you are in the office or at home.