Some would say this post is a little premature, I would say I couldn’t give a shit what they think J On Monday my era of Generation Y Working began. Gone were the daily commutes to the office, out with the water cooler conversations and in with the hounding of the post man. Ok let’s be serious for a moment. I am a full week into the journey I have started. I like to call this a journey as I had absolutely no previous experience other than a couple of work from home days.
Ultimately nothing can really prepare you for such a journey. You can read all the ‘working from home’ blogs you want (and believe me I did) but nothing can really prepare you for how you feel when it comes to a remote environment of work.
The contrasts between my previous role and my current role couldn’t be different in all ways. My previous employer was a catalogue company making the transition from offline distributor to online whereas my current role is part of an internet start up. Chalk and cheese really. I have also gone from a bustling open plan office to my home office. Again quite a HUGE contrast.
This all sounds like I’m building up to a negative right? Wrong. It’s not at all I’m merely providing some context behind the situation. It was a big move and one I was slightly worried about. But if I wasn’t worried I wouldn’t be human right?
I used the term ‘observations’ as thus far these are merely observations which I have encountered over the past few days. If you are considering making the jump into remote working like I have then here’s some food for thought.
I wake up, I start work:
As an early riser the rigid nature of most organisations prevents me from working when I wake up. Now I work for a business based in Singapore I am able to tailor my hours to meet my early riser like nature.
A few mornings this week I was awake before 6 so I was washed, showered and sat at my computer by 6:30am. Not only does this give me more time with my business but also gives me time back at the end of the day. If I start half an hour earlier I am well within my right to finish half hour early. Instead of ‘killing’ time waiting to get into the office I can hit the ground running and start working. I like this.
Your Gym sessions are AMAZING:
Chewing the fat in the office wastes energy. As does commuting. Working from home means you spend most time on your own in your home office. Even though you are essentially working to the same level or sometimes harder than you would in the actual office you seem to have more energy to burn at lunch time as this has been conserved as you haven’t had to have ‘those chats’ with the fella who sits near you.
How you use this energy is up to you but as an avid lunch time gym goer I use this energy in the gym. Extra energy levels = harder work in the gym. I am using this unique opportunity of home working to really improve my work outs.
Hard to shut down:
There are a number of factors which could constitute to the reason for this but within the first week I have found it increasingly difficult to ‘stop’ working. It’s funny that this is the exact opposite of those jokes and jibes you are presented when you tell people you work from home.
This may also be the keen new job syndrome which is common but I’m not sure. Because I like my job I think it’s half the battle but I have found myself still engaging in work activities while watching TV in the evening. Not intense ‘I AM WRITING A BUSINESS STRATEGY’ working but replying to emails, answering tweets, discovering websites.
At my previous role once the clock stopped rolling I rarely looked at the work other than my emails from time to time. I think because you are in the same surrounding, using the same equipment you feel more obliged to continue working. At the moment I’m not seeing this as a negative as I enjoy my work however it’s one of those which needs to be watched as it could quite easily turn into one. It’s one of those horror stories you here when researching home working.
Coffee/Loo Breaks Seem wrong:
My experience of working in an office environment is that you are up and down quite often. You go to the loo, grab a coffee, a colleague comes over to show you something and so forth. You may spend large portions of the day mooching about the office.
When working from home however you are very much clock/activity conscious. You time your lunch breaks to precision, you feel guilty for going downstairs to grab a coffee. Maybe I am way over the top but this is the initial observation I can draw from myself last week. I make sure I am back at my desk ‘on the dot’ with my lunch break. I take a select amount of coffee breaks in the day and I sometimes don’t take calls in the day as I am ‘working’.
I guess it’s a bit of a working from home mentality thing. You are so devoted to proving those cynics wrong that you take it a step further. It’s also pride in ones work. As a remote worker you want to work that little bit harder, be that little bit more punctual and be seen as a dependable worker within the team.
Productivity is through the roof:
People talk about positive karma or a positive working environment and this is what you tend to create when you work from home. Having a clearly defined office space without the negativities of a corporate office can help productivity significantly.
In my final days at my previous role I was moved to a seat near the business assistant for the marketing director. As the marketing director was an extremely busy guy people would clamber to the business assistant’s desk asking for meetings with the Director. This was sometimes every 20 to 30 minutes. If it wasn’t face to face interaction it was the phone calling.
Personally I find it extremely difficult to work on a strategy document in those types of surroundings. This was no fault of anyone’s it was merely my seating position.
My home office however allows me to dictate how noisy or how quiet I want it to be which leads to a ramp up in productivity. If I am zoning my way through a social media strategy document i will probably go for complete silence or the window open to hear the birds singing. If however I am however compiling list contacts of researching then I may want to be jamming to some Bob Marley to up the anti.
The dictation of how you control your surroundings presents a natural uplift in productivity. I said to myself that I have literally learnt more in the last week than I have in months by having the right surrounding to digest material, try new things and deal with my job.
Distractions can be amazing, distractions can be the worst. When working from home you tend to not have any distractions. When you’re having an absolute dog of a day in the office then there is nothing better than a smiley face pushing a coffee in front of you and a nice chat about how one day you will escape this rat race, live off the land with just a packback, your laptop and your craft **looks into the distance dreaming**
But let’s be serious these distractions are some of the best and are hugely missed. But these distractions are not the only ones you get in the office. The constant distractions of people inadvertently knocking your chair, speaking loudly to someone next to you, talking to you about a painfully boring subject or just simply distracting you. The office can be a real crap surrounding when you are trying to work.
Working from home however you have no distractions other than social media which essentially can be a distraction when you want it to be a distraction. This is a clear distinction from the office as you are presented with distractions always and not when you want them. Again however if you ‘need’ that distraction or chat with a colleague then they may not always be available on skype, twitter or any other social channels so the no distractions has to be seen from both ways.
I miss the welcome tea/coffee break distractions but most of all I am thankful to have lost the painful office distractions.
Where are my friends?:
The main sacrifice when working from home is the lack of friends/work colleagues you will speak to on a daily basis. There’s something warming about having a good group of friends at work, having the guy who cleans the bins to say hi to everyday or the dude who you see while making a coffee in the kitchen. It’s all about being human to enjoy those type of interactions. You don’t get that when working from home.
It’s one of those things really where if you want to lead the ‘working from home’ lifestyle and have all the positives attached to it then there has to be one negative and the friends angle is the negative. It’s impossible to have the perks and the draws of working from home without having any negatives. It’s hardly going to fly with your boss if you have a gang of mates around your house in business hours and let’s be real you wouldn’t want that. Corporate offices have those human relationships, those friends who you can tap into when you want. I call them ‘lazy’ friends. Not mates you are going to go for a beer with but people who you’ll happily speak to at work to give you that human interaction buzz.
There’s ways around this though. I have a day a week in the UK office where I will socialise with the UK team of the organisation I work for. Secondly I get myself to the gym most lunch times and spend an hour there. You will have the human interaction with people in the gym.
Thirdly I am keeping in touch with my friends, arranging drinks, nights out, social gatherings to keep myself ticking over. I also spend a few hours a week at least skyping the boss. We literally stick skype on and work away. I think it’s his of keeping an eye on me really. You have to keep yourself busy when working from home and keep yourself in the social loop. Without this loop you’ll become a social outcast, you’ll not shave, look like Tom Hanks and have a ball as a friend. Honest.
I read, I tidy, I clean:
One of my favourite things thus far about working from home is the tailoring of hours. I have said throughout this blog that my productivity is high around 6:30am-4pm instead of the industry standard 9-5 grind.
If i start work at 7am I can be finished for 4:30pm and when I say finished I mean walk downstairs and sit on the sofa finished. This is a massive benefit to me and something I have loved throughout the first week of employment. Sure I have put in the extra hours on a night but I have also had time to do mundane chores, read and things you may miss when working in an office environment.
I used to start work at 8am however i would wake up regularly around 6am. I would sit around until it was time to get ready for work, sit in the car for 30 minutes to work and then 30 minutes on the way back. Those 90 minutes can be used effectively elsewhere. Grab a book and read for an hour. Jump in the car and get to the shops, add another workout into your day. Working from home allows you to use your time more effectively at the times which suit you.
I was never organised when working in an office to take in my own food every day. I was therefore reliant on the food served in the canteen. If you are a healthy eating sun of a gun like myself then you struggled in the canteen. It was relatively cheap if you were happy to eat curry, fish and chips and other delights however if you wanted a salad it was a little more pricey and less delightful.
Since working from home I’ve been able to buy the goodness for myself. Chicken breast, salad and sweet potato for lunch? No problem. Fancy some salmon? Just get it made. You can really eat healthy and eat well. You have your own kitchen downstairs so you can choose exactly what you want to eat and when you eat it. For healthy eaters or those who want to stay away from the canteen mania then this is a key positive of remote/home working.
I FEEEL GOOD:
So far so good would be the general consensus so far. I love my work, enjoying my surroundings and making the most of the great opportunity I have been presented with. I am fortunate to have this opportunity and I am desperate to make the most of it. Before taking a working from home opportunity, considering self employment or maybe just becoming a bum then I hope my initial observations will help you make the right decision.
Even though my advice is pretty much standard practice nobody can tell you how it will feel until you sit down at the desk and realise its real. Trust me I now realise it’s real.
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