Working at home doesn’t work for everyone…
There’s lots of talk about going back to the office, continuing to work at home, or some sort of hybrid working arrangement. Why does working at home not work for everyone?
We had no choice when the PM announced he was putting the country into lockdown. Lots of businesses were not prepared and certainly didn’t have the technology or equipment in place to move their staff from the office to home smoothly.
Forward 18 months and many of us have now settled into working at home and have established a routine. However, does working at home suit everyone and every business?
We all live busy lives these days and it’s too tempting to get ahead of the game if you are working at home. Load the dishwasher, unload the dishwasher, load the washing machine, unload the washing machine, and so on…
It’s not just the household chores, it’s shopping, deliveries, popping out to get this and that and the list goes on. And, don’t get me started on TikTok scrolling!
Being in the office gives you automatic discipline and structure. It’s a professional environment that lends itself well to working. Of course, there are still distractions in the office – all the banter for example. If you work in a big open-plan office, there are lots of hellos, and how was your weekend, and goodbyes too!
Working at home can be quite isolating for some individuals. They like to be surrounded by their colleagues and manager. Particularly important when there are problems or issues to deal with.
It can be uncomfortable dealing with a crisis when you are working alone. Having the support and backup of your manager and colleagues has many advantages.
People get different things from their jobs and work in general. Some people are career-driven and want to work with other like-minded people. Others like the social aspects of working and prefer working in a team.
Today there are a variety of methods to be able to communicate with each other. A lot of businesses have been able to continue business as usual during the lockdowns. However, it’s not as easy to have informal chats and catch-ups over email, Teams, or Zoom.
Following on from feelings of isolation is a possible lack of support. We know how the lockdown has had a massive impact on mental health and we are yet to see the real impact.
Limited learning opportunities
Some companies will agree that most of the real learning about the job is on the job. It’s doing the job where you learn the most. Learning happens when you start applying the knowledge.
You can also learn a lot from your colleagues doing the same job and that’s not so easy when you are working alone. It’s easier to ask quick questions to gain, increase, or confirm your knowledge when you are surrounded by your colleagues.
There is the option to send a quick message on MS Teams or go back to sending emails but there’s no guarantee you’ll get a quick response. The answer may also generate further questions or clarification. In my opinion, nothing replaces having a two-way conversation with a more experienced colleague.
You can never network too soon! If you’re a student the right time to set up a LinkedIn account is today. We’ll show you how to use LinkedIn as a student and more importantly, how to land a job when you have graduated.
Managing remote teams
Over the last few years, mental health absence has been on the increase in the workplace. Absence from work due to mental health costs the industry billions of pounds. Yes, billions. It will be some time before we see exactly how COVID has impacted these figures.
Working at home or remotely makes it a lot more challenging for managers to spot those early warning signs amongst their team if they are not working in the office.
When you work in an office, you can pick up on signs on how the team is feeling. You can see if someone is stressed or unhappy. No, it’s not always obvious how some people are feeling, and some people are good at putting on a front particularly at work.
Health and wellbeing issues
We all know the importance of looking after ourselves. At work, it’s also looking out for each other. Work can be stressful, and there’s a tendency to skip breaks, and lunches to ‘get ahead’ and all these things contribute to your health and wellbeing.
Are you the type of person that never feels productive working at home? Do you compensate by working longer hours or logging in on your day off?
Is the workload so high that you cannot possibly complete all the tasks during your contracted hours? So, you once again log in during your holidays, days off or work extra hours.
It’s healthy taking time off work. Even if you are career-orientated and consider yourself a hard worker, take your holidays seriously.
Not getting to know me!
If you’re new to the team or business, there are fewer opportunities to have informal chats. Building working relationships are not just about the job role, it’s taking some time to get to know the personalities and characteristics.
If you’re a people manager (you manage people!), getting to know your team is extremely important. As a manager, you need to build trust and show your appreciation. Again, not so easy when your team works at home. You need to get to know the skills, experiences, knowledge, and capabilities. Not only that, but it’s also beneficial to get to know their drivers, what motivates that person, and what demotivates them.
When you’re talking to people on MS Teams or Zoom, it’s not the same. Having formal meetings after formal meetings is not giving you the opportunity to get to know the team.
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