Work from home – is this the new norm?

An employee’s view of her work from home experience

With the country on COVID-19 lockdown, many of us are being asked to work from home. It appears that businesses and staff are taking to this change with mixed emotions. I’ve been working as a UX Designer at TrackMyRisks for 2 years now with our whole team working remotely.

Here’s why it works…

Working from home doesn’t mean that you don’t have colleagues, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have interaction or stimulation. It just means more flexibility, greater planning and advanced communication. We work to an agile methodology where we have our morning standup every day. We each discuss what was achieved the day before, what today’s goals are and outline who we may need to communicate with that day to achieve them. From being office-based for 6 years to home-based for 2, I can honestly say I have more structure to my day now than ever before.

The main benefits of being home-based are obvious – no travel expenses, more flexibility and more time at home. This became hugely important to me just recently when I became a new mum. Unlike most working mothers, going back to work was an easy transition for me. I took a couple of months off – utilising my keep in touch days to keep in the loop. Working from the comfort of my own home or sometimes where my childcare took me. I then went back to work full-time with a new 4-day week schedule. I was never far from my baby and I got straight back into it.

Why was this a success? 

  1. My employers trusted me
  2. My goals were still set and achieved and/or discussed daily
  3. My hours were flexible but transparent to all team members
  4. My wellbeing and that of my child was important to my employers

The key points here are that it shouldn’t matter where your employees are doing their work as long as the output is the same. If you cannot trust that your employees will do that, then surely this needs to be addressed more so than the working from home lifestyle? 

The most common question I tend to get when I tell people I work from home full-time is:

“How are you not distracted and do you not get a bit lonely?”

You’re only lonely if you isolate yourself. I still chat with my colleagues, I have video calls with them and engage with them as much as possible. I’ve already explained how I structure my day so the advice I would give to someone adapting to working from home is this:

  • Get up and start your day as normal. Get dressed, have breakfast and start as if you were to leave for the office
  • Have a dedicated workspace in your house away from the main distractions and try and keep it as tidy as possible. Create a desk space, if you can, or work from your dining room table. But make it so that you’re focused on your tasks for the day
  • Take breaks. Most people think that with working from home there is added pressure to be at your desk at all time. You can still get up and have a coffee, stretch your legs and take a few minutes away from your screen (which we all know is recommended anyway)
  • If you are away from your desk – let people know! We tend to say “afk ~ 10m” in our slack channel (away from keyboard) so there’s a timeframe for how long we won’t be able to see/answer messages.
  • Focus on your daily tasks and communicate with your colleagues as much as possible. Don’t wait for them to come to you. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT.

Is working from home right for everyone?

Working from home might not be for everyone but it is doable for everyone that operates via digital means. There will be those that are desperate to get back to office life and those who are determined not to. Personally, I’m surprised at how effortless it was for me to adapt to a work from home life. I’m excited that more businesses are getting the opportunity to trial their remote working process. They are potentially creating more remote opportunities to a larger demographic of like-minded professionals in the future.