Family/Friends are important to us all. They are the people who we love, cherish & spend a significant portion of our non working life with. When working in an office you build up a bond with work colleagues, have a ‘work’ friendship with them which is warming. As humans we love these type of interactions. The conversations with the man who picks up the work post; the guy who empties the office bins, individuals you may in other circumstances not always have this conversation with. Remote workers however do not have these little conversations with Joe Blogs or a smile and a hello in a morning. Remote workers wake up, jump on the computer and work.
We all know of the positives around remote working but the human interaction side of things can be tough sometimes. There’s only so far conversations on twitter or via Skype can get you. But working from home is also a double edged sword. At the same time we crave conversation we also NEED to have work boundaries. Working from home is still working and friends/family need to digest this.
Your family and your friends are as important to your success remote working as having a swanky office or the correct equipment. They are your support network and you need them. Here are some ways friends and family can support your remote working:
Understand what you do:
Having an understanding group of friends and family is an essential part of remote working. Friends and family who understand exactly what you do will understand your needs and requirements when working from home. I have seen genuine examples of where family members assume because one works remotely they can do the housework; deal with bills which need paying and other household chores. Again this is another misconception of working from home and a lack of understanding from family.
I feel like I am banging on the same drum here but we have the same restrictions as office working and we need to adhere to these restrictions.
Remote workers need to educate family members on what they do so the family know that when ‘Mummy/Daddy’ is working, they are working. Describing the complexities of the role, the amount of work required and the demands of the role will improve understanding and thus improve the mind set of others on your remote working set up.
Remove ridiculous stereotypes:
I hate stereotypes. Especially those which are derogatory to those who work from home. It’s painfully annoying and links in with the point above in regards to lacking understanding. I was recently speaking with a family member of mine about my new employment of remote working and they just didn’t understand the concept.
He assumed that if I ran out of work for a given week then I was finished work and I could do what I wanted because my boss didn’t work in the same office as me. Now not only is that opinion short sighted it’s also hugely prehistoric. I had to explain to him that I will regularly skype, email and web cam my manager throughout the day and I am actually tailoring my working hours to match closer to those of the time zone my organisation work in.
Although on this occasion I was able to educate it’s a huge stereotype which needs to be removed. This however will come with time and education around remote working. Granted remote working does come with some fantastic benefits (flexi hours, no commute and no dress code) there are many aspects which make it more challenging than an office based role.
By friends and family understanding what you do, how hard you work and understanding the challenges of remote working the stereotypes will be removed turning my frown upside down J
Understand working hours:
When you work a 9-5 within an office your friends and family know you are working. They understand your working hours, may send you a text message or email but ultimately they stay well within the boundaries.
Working remotely relies on these same boundaries been kept. Sure there are perks that allow you to make your working hours more flexible, have a longer lunch break (work later) or possibly jump off in the afternoon for a dentist appointment but family/friends need to understand you are still working like anybody else in an office job.
Ashley Baxter touched on this previously when I interviewed her where she mentioned friends inviting themselves over in the day to see her while she was working. This was not written in the rule book of remote working. Friends need to realise the hours you work and stick to them in the same way they would if you worked elsewhere. The concept is the same just the office surrounding is different.
Working remotely is a challenge for everyone to begin with. It’s a new experience, a new way of working and therefore this should be accommodated by the family members you live with. Everyone will have different ways of accommodating this. My Girlfriend and I had a shared office space. One side manly, one side pink and girly. You know what I mean right?
Once I secured the work from home opportunity she instantly said ‘You can have the office space however you want it’. This is my prime example about accommodating family members. She was aware of my requirements to have a dedicated office space and accommodated this, was unselfish and caring.
This may sound dramatic but working from home is a big step and family members need to be aware that this is now your working hub. You need space, consistency and a dynamic working environment which allows you to really flourish. Whether this is clearing a room to have that office space you need, taking the kids out in the day while you concentrate or merely bringing you a coffee every now and then, be accommodating to your partner to help them make the transition.
Make an effort:
I strategically saved this one until last as I believe this is one of the most important, if not the most important point. Remote workers rely on friends and family to make an effort with communication. Even if you are not the most social person in the world you can still have a credible social life by working in an office. Remote workers however do not have this luxury which is where friends and family come into the equation.
We work from home, we do not talk to that many people on a social level day to day so why not drop us a text? Reach out to us and ask us out for beer or for some food. Friends don’t be shy, make an effort to speak to your friends who work remotely and spare some time weekly to do something with them.
The same also applies for family members you live with. After been cooped up in the home office all day with nothing but the radio as company it’s pretty cool to get out of the house. Whether it’s just a walk or going out for a meal by making that effort it will prevent your partner from turning into a social recluse and going into hibernation.
By having a great group of friends and a close knit family remote working will become the opportunity you envisaged and not a dark room of cabin fever.
Remote working has many positives but the reality is that it’s not all plain sailing. I know there’s the vision of working in your pj’s, flexible hours or working outside in the sun however with those visions you also have the downsides. Family and friends who are supportive of your working from home conditions will ultimately help the success of your working from home arrangement.
Those without a close group of friends and a supportive family may struggle to adapt to the challenges of remote working. Before any decisions are made I recommend having the support and buy in from family members and a group of friends you know will not let you down. You will need them the most when you have just spend 7-8 hours of a working day at home.
Working 9-5. There’s a song about it, over 22 million people do it in the UK yet...