Can you still be in-house when you’re at home?
I’m a remote working fan. For the past 6 years I have worked from home, commuting to offices as and when necessary. I have found this to be the most rewarding way to work, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely plain sailing.
Remote working – it’s all about you
Working remotely you are truly your own boss. It’s not about ‘getting away’ with stuff, slacking off as nobody is looking. It’s about structuring your day to achieve a specific result but doing it in a way that suits you.
When you’re sat at your desk, surrounded by several co-workers all beavering away, the urge to ‘nip out’ for coffee has to be suppressed or at least camouflaged (“just popping down the road to buy some…errrr…paperclips…”). Understandably, your manager can’t have everyone wandering around, working when they feel like it.
But what happens when you ARE working from home?
Before working for myself I had plenty of practice with remote working. When the pressure was on and deadlines were mounting up I would ask for a day (sometimes two) at home to focus and clear the backlog. This speaks volumes. I knew, and more importantly my boss knew, that I was more productive at home. I really was. I could easily achieve four or five times as much sat at my kitchen table than I could in the office. I could prove it too. Time sheets are not everyone’s friend but I loved mine. On this occasion it proved to me, and others, that working from home I got more done.
Is productivity enough to justify working from home?
In my experience, no.
Offices are competitive environments. There is a constant battle between getting the job done and getting it done with as little bloodshed as possible. Whilst you may be more productive at home, the rest of the office has declined into anarchy because ‘she can get away with a free day off’.
When a team is used to working side by side there are some hurdles to overcome. You need to communicate REALLY WELL. Not just in the words you use but your choice of delivery to. A short sharp remark from a colleague stood in front of your desk, visibly stressed out and carrying the weight of the world is more easily forgiven that a one sentence email demanding and instant reply. Being at home you’re out of context and things can get a little blurred.
Fairness and equality play a part to. It’s hard to accommodate a receptionist who wants to try remote working – the nature of the job dictates they need to physically be in the office. You need to strike a balance and in my experience dispelling the myth that working from home means free day off is a good place to start.
It’s a lonely place at home
So we’re paid to work and productively gives your employer better value for money, but unhappy employees are rarely productive, no matter where they sit. The 3 minute chat over coffee in the office kitchen can be enough to lift your spirits and drive you to your next big success. Without a support network at home would you fair as well? This is a personal choice and only trying will help you find the answer.
Managing a remote team
Most of my past experience with remote working is from the employee side, but I have a little experience of managing a remote team too. Logistically they were in another country, different time zone and different culture – not one of my career highlights to be honest. Even today, I couldn’t imagine running a team of 20 when everyone is in different places, but if you want a flavour of the ups and downs I urge you to read Remote: Office Not Required. I nodded all the way through this book and for anyone not sure of what it will be like, this is a great insight.