Employees have always been curious and excited about the thought of working from home. The COVID-19 regulations of the last couple months have allowed nearly everyone the chance to experience what that is really like. Many positives seemed to be obvious at the outset of quarantine; no commute, casual dress, more time with family, no co-worker distractions, and easy access to the kitchen. However, after a couple months I have noticed that working from home has not been entirely what I expected. How have my expectations lined up with reality?
Having the ability to miss the increasingly horrendous Denver traffic has mostly been a positive. Not having my daily commute has allowed me to spend additional time working as opposed to driving. However, I have found that absent my normal commute, I am struggling to get mentally prepared for the workday, and I am missing that crucial time to wind down after. Having a 2-year-old means that I am immediately stepping from the stressors of work to the stressors of parenting. The thirty to sixty-minute buffer pre/post-work is something I really miss.
My daily commute is the perfect amount of time to get ramped up before work and to wind down after. If I had 1-hour commute or more, the ability to split working from home and going into the office would be ideal. Employers are bound to come around to that flexibility in a post-COVID world.
Having a set schedule is imperative to ensuring you are working enough, but not working too much. I noticed immediately it was very easy to get in the zone without the distractions of an office place (coworkers talking, etc.) and ended up working hours past what I normally did. This is great in the short-term but fails over time as most humans will burn out trying to keep up that pace.
I also found that even minus the normal distractions of the workplace, I was getting distracted more easily. There are a million things around the house that can divert your attention: crying 2-year-olds, laundry, going for a walk, or even just constant the access to your pantry (snack time, anyone)? All these things really detract from your productivity during the day, and you end up having to work longer hours to accomplish the same amount of work.
Lastly, I have found that the energy of having a solid team around you is an immeasurable benefit and is greatly missed. When everyone is in the zone, that productivity is contagious! It is hard to get that same energy from a Zoom meeting.
There are just too many distractions and not having the energy of my colleagues is definitely missed. I have really enjoyed spending more time with my family, but my job allows that anyway. If you do not have the luxury of a healthy work-life balance, it may be time to entertain other opportunities anyway.
Obviously, working from home during a pandemic is different than working from home in a normal world. Absent a pandemic, you would have the ability to go places and see other people. During this pandemic, you are fairly limited on where you can go and who you can safely see. Not having human interaction has been the most difficult part of working from home, but that was to be expected.
There is no added benefit to being isolated in my opinion. Some people might like this, but this is definitely not for me.
I would say that overall, that I would not like to work exclusively from home. However, I could see tremendous benefits if employers allowed their employees the flexibility to occasionally work remotely. It is all about balance, right?