Thankfully workplaces are now starting to realise that flexible working can really boost productivity. But it’s not something that comes naturally to a lot of people. And many businesses that we coach (particularly the smaller ones) are often hesitant to allow people to work from home as they are worried about their productivity.
So let’s put their minds at ease by starting with the upside of working from home….
You save energy on commuting that can be put to work – I don’t know about you but I find suiting up and getting to work in rush hour – standing on buses and trains a bit of a waste of time and energy. On the mornings I work from home I’m at my desk working way earlier than I would be if I had to make it to the city. For many people these days it can give you back an extra hour or two each day as well as the related energy.
You work at your own pace – now this is particularly one for our slower paced friends who like longer blocks of time to focus. When you work from home you generally have more control over your distractions. Working in large open plan offices can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to deep thinking. You are still contactable by having a work phone diverted to your mobile but you certainly don’t have to deal with random pop ins by co-workers.
Work life integration – Maybe you need to pop out and take the kids to school or the dog to the vet but you’re happy to work at some other random time instead. Working from home certainly gives you the flexibility to do this so that you can achieve more in all areas of your life.
Now for the biggest downside….. and it’s a big one……isolation!
If you’ve ever done the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator you’ll know that extroverts are defined as people who get their energy from other people while the introverts are those who prefer to re-energise on their own. It doesn’t have anything to do with who are most likely to dance on a table. I’m personally a high extrovert – when I travel for work I would much rather to go a restaurant with others around and sit by myself than stay in the hotel and order room service.
So those who get their energy from other people can suffer mental health issues from isolation if they try to work from home too much. And interestingly our observations have now been confirmed with a study from Stanford university.
So what to do…….
Strike a balance.This will be different for everyone. Personally I find that working from home in the morning is a great way to start when I’m lighter on energy credits. Then I go into the city and teach fitness classes or other forms of exercise at lunch then jump into my suit and have a productive afternoon in the office or with face-to-face client meetings. It also saves a costume change as I can jump straight into my gym gear in the morning.
Others prefer to have full days at home or at the office. There is no right or wrong but you do need to understand how YOU are built to operate before you can determine your best working from home strategy.
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