Is Working From Home The New Norm? Let’s be honest, for me, it’s a Yay. I prefer working from home because I find that it has many benefits, and I’m used to it since day 1 when I graduated from university. I even work on weekends (that’s freelancing and business life for you) and working from home (WFH) is pretty much standard. If you are a freelancer or your own boss, and work mostly at home/remotely, you can easily relate to this concept of working, and love it because you are used to it.
Based on my personal focus group results which involved Millennials (born between 1982 and 2000), they are the group of people who are strong advocates that prefer working from home/away from the office. They are also known as ‘Digital Nomads’. In the survey conducted, it was found that the only reason they miss their office was because of their lunch buddies/friends and lunch moments – as it is the only time they get to eat, socialise, and really bond with each other. Interestingly, some don’t even miss their office because of less physical involvement in office politics and drama.
In fact, if we are referring to the newest statistics (Fortunly and PWC), millennials do appreciate flexible working space, and WFH is a top priority for them. 69% of millennials would give up other work benefits for a more flexible working space. WFH is also one of the ways for companies in this digital era to retain and sustain talents from millennials, which will form 50% of the global workforce by 2020.
Let us go through some key benefits of WFH. I believe those who have to travel far can perhaps relate to these easier. WFH saves you hours of traveling time, traveling cost, long hours and frequent meetings, and so much more – that leaves you exhausted and unmotivated at the end of the day. Can you also imagine having to deal with bitter colleagues who like to bully, or in worse cases, make your life miserable at the office? Working from home = less face time = less drama and bullying.
Having high discipline, perseverance, and a positive attitude are just some of the traits you would need to be able to work from home effectively. If you’re able to carry these qualities in your life when working, you can basically work anywhere. Additionally, you also need the right tools and technology.
Of course, the preference of WFH still varies from one person to another and it depends on their personal circumstances. Distractions (children, house chores, isolation) could be the main reason why some dislike it, which is understandable, and sometimes unavoidable. The likelihood to wear many hats at home can also occur if you have to look after your family while working, and it’s definitely not an easy task when you have to juggle it all at once.
One of the main solutions to WFH efficiently is to designate a space for work that will minimise any unwanted distractions when you work and able to aid you to be more productive. For children and spouses – guide them to be respectful of boundaries and be independent when it comes to you working. Chores need to be distributed based on responsibilities, so everyone is occupied with productive assignments and has a good understanding of the situation at home. Couples need to come together and help each other; being a supportive and understanding partner is one of the best solutions.
Other than that, schedule your time wisely and define the right balance – only you know what’s the right balance for yourself. Find your productive hour and give your brain and body a break before you burn out by doing the things you love as this will help you focus in the present moment. Boost your resilience by focusing on how you feel and if you’re down, focus on how you can bounce back and be better. Cultivate positive emotions and attitude. It’s okay to take small, imperfect steps towards resolution.
Another bright side of WFH is you will have more valuable time with your loved ones. If you live with your family, you have the luxury to be with them, which for me is a bonus because I love to be close to the people I love. WFH allows for extra time to spend with loved ones and to care for our well-being. For me by managing my time wisely, I feel I can do so many things, while giving it my all when it comes to working. One of the happiest would be my cat as I’m always there for him, (pets wanting attention they say) – and he gets it a lot!
One of the best ways to appreciate the benefits of WFH is to note that you can’t mix work & life. Find the balance. Set specific working hours and focus on your work when you’re at it. If we work at the office from 9am-6pm, for example, thus it should be the same at home. It’s okay if you want to put in the extra hours (deadlines, new projects, etc.), but ensure that it doesn’t ‘eat’ you at home. That will make you feel that working from home is dreadful and exhausting.
Don’t forget to structure your work during the day based on priority to avoid feeling overwhelmed at the end of the day. You know better than anyone else your best time to think and work, so if you can be flexible and still produce, be it. Be agile and flexible, as long as you achieve your goals and end-results (delivery based).
For me, I’m happier at home, and when I’m happy, I am more productive. Less stress, less problem, better overall health and well-being is very important to me. They say home sweet home, and for me, that’s true. I feel more energised and positive.
Besides the benefits that one can attain from WFH, we must not forget that we need to equip ourselves to ensure we can work from home efficiently. The ability to handle any situation as a leader, as well as a follower is also important when people don’t visibly see you in front of them. Leadership qualities are important. Be a leader and not a boss. As a leader, it’s our responsibility to guide our teammates to be productive, no matter where they work, so you know what that means? Micromanaging is a big NO-NO.
Teamwork makes the dream work, no matter how tough the situation gets. Communication is crucial when working from home. Use the right words and methods to deliver messages. Have virtual face-to-face meetings through Skype or Zoom. Even though the person is not right in front of us, we now live in the digital era, where everything is just one click away. Things can work if we try hard enough. No excuses.
Trust is also important when working apart from each other. It goes both ways between the leader and teammates. Therefore, responsibility and accountability need to be there. It takes two to tango. It should be a culture of understanding that WFH is working like normal except not in an office setting. Similarly, we as an employee should abide by our roles and responsibilities no matter where we work as an honour of our duty.
I do see that working outside of the office is a possibility in the near future. In fact, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is already happening now. The fear of working digitally is slowly diminishing. Those who used to be skeptics have turned believers when they recognised the benefits and have no choice but to adapt. It takes time for most roles to work digitally. This tough journey will teach us how to see and experience things differently. How we can change the way we work to fit the future we live in. How we need to change our mindset to be able to adapt rapidly and swiftly.
Working at the office and climbing the corporate ladder is no longer a top priority or career aspirations for Generation Z and Generation Alpha (after Millennials) These are the generations where technology is at their fingertips, and they know how to earn through digital space which clearly sets them apart. Social media platforms have taken over the digital world and is now a new way of making money for the younger generation. That’s the world we live in now, and it will keep on evolving through time.
The wave of young professionals who will enter the workforce in the near future is a topic that needs to be relooked at, ‘How do we change the way we work now and attract these generations to work with us’ will perhaps change how we work currently and prepare better for the future.
It’s paramount that we all need to have a mindset that is able to adapt and shift according to change, because change is inevitable. Transformation is needed from time to time. Embrace what we can. The world is moving so fast, we need to train ourselves to be more versatile, understand the young ones, and work hand in hand with them because they are the new generation that will lead the future.
Hence, ask yourself, if WFH is the new normal, will you be okay with it and how do you manage this concept of work in your life? On the contrary, if you are not ready, how could you change your perception and situation so you can embrace WFH culture in your life? Sooner or later, this work from ‘anywhere’ will be a culture, that will overtake traditional office work in the future for many, whether we like it or not.
It’s time to adjust, and WFH is already the ‘new normal’ for some businesses due to the pandemic. Some companies are already making arrangements to embrace work from home in a more permanent way. Google and Facebook have said they will extend work from home to their employees for the rest of the year. Even, Twitter jumped in the bandwagon. Yes, WFH has its challenges and is not perfect, but in the long run, it can be beneficial for both employees and companies with the right method of implementation and understanding.
Change is always hard at the beginning but once you get used to it, there’s no turning back. We need to constantly adapt to change and ensure our work reflects our skill and we are able to be a viable asset to the company. Keep learning something new especially during this challenging period so we are able to cope with any uncertainties that the future may bring. Not only that, learning can also help to nourish our brain.
Take care, stay safe and I hope this article will help you to understand more about work from home.