Is working from home a good idea?

Home office 2018

It’s 7 am and the alarm goes off. You get out of the bed and turn it off. You go to the bathroom. You wash your face, brush your teeth and go to the closet to pick your clothes for the day. You pick your favourite T-shirt and pair of sweats because, guess what: you are working from home today!

You don’t have to put make up on, you don’t have to wear heels or “real” clothes. You can eat whenever you want whatever is in your kitchen. That thought makes you feel great. You make coffee while thinking about where to sit while working today. The couch seems like a good idea.

Then other questions pop-up in your mind. You have to start working at 9 and, as you don’t have to commute, how will you spend the time? Put some music on? Clean the house? Load some whites in the washing machine? Start reading something you like? Check that [insert favourite social media platform here] updates? You take your cup of coffee, your phone and head straight to the couch. Ah, the morning is early and there are few things better than the prospect of a productive day.

Home office 2016

Doesn’t this sound great? I could have fooled me. I first learned about working from home when I started my job in a corporation in December 2013. My colleague who was working from home mentioned how much she enjoyed it: the flexibility, the being at home, the lack of need to commute, spending the day in home clothing. Yes, it didn’t sound bad.

But then I learned that working from home produces savings for companies. Which was when I started observing the downsides of it all. You spend the day at your own home, using your internet, your electricity, your toilet paper. You have the option to spend the day in your pyjamas. You don’t meet your colleagues or other humans, especially if you live alone. You get to blur the boundaries between personal and professional life.

It’s true that working from home system comes with many advantages, otherwise people would not be onboard. But it seems to me that it works best for several categories of people: (a) those with small children, who need a flexible schedule, (b) those which have feeble relationships with their colleagues, (c) those who live at another location and couldn’t commute.

When you need to work in teams, when you have good relations with your colleagues, when you lead or are interested in climbing the companies’ hierarchy, it’s probably best to be present. It’s a great opportunity to dress up, use the commute to prepare your mind for the working day and to connect with others interested in same activities as you. And the company is who should provide the context for doing quality work.

No matter the advantages, with time one thing will be exhausting when working from home: getting yourself in the right frame of mind for focused, productive work.

In my experience, best is to have a space dedicated to work outside home. Working from home is a great option to have for sick days or as exceptions. But working from home may marginalise employees, may keep them away from learning what’s going on, may prolong decision making processes and may restrict communication. Does it worth it, giving that productivity comes from employment engagement, which, in turn, is influenced by having a friend at work?

Does working from home work for you? Leave your answer in the comments below.

Make today count!

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