Years ago I wrote a post about how awful hot desking was. I still stand by that, but now post lockdowns I’m no longer working 5 days a week in the office. This means that unfortunately hot desking will be my life when I do go into the office. I’ve converted to working from home and it’s working well.
I never thought I’d prefer working from home, but since having no choice since March 2020 lockdown. I’ve embraced it. And it’s not too bad.
For at least the foreseeable future, I’ll be a hybrid worker.
Hybrid working for us means most of the office will work from home unless that doesn’t work for them for whatever reason. Then we’ll be in the office for anything that needs face to face collaboration. Team day. Planning. Workshops. Meetings that aren’t appropriate for online.
We do have the benefit of having remote workers as colleagues anyway, so it was easy enough to learn from them and find what worked for everyone else. I can’t fault how smooth the transition to working from home was. As someone who already knew many of the people across the business, I didn’t have to worry about being new into the company when everyone was at home. I definitely would have struggled with that. Although video calls rather than phones, would help with that.
Since working from home I have been back in the office once. I was a little nervous – the first time I’d been in one indoor space for any more than a few hours. But they’ve got all the safety measures. Social distancing is still in place. Masks can be worn walking around if you want (although I didn’t as it wasn’t too busy). Only a limited number of people can book a desk each day. There’s a one way system. You wipe down meeting rooms, your desk, things you’ve used in the kitchen after using them. And there’s air monitoring meters and alarms tell you if the monitoring gets too high, and you need to leave the room and ventilate. We’re also asked to do lateral flow tests before going in, as well as a really high % of employees having been vaccinated. It’s as safe as it could be. (of course, with more restrictions comng back in for Dec ’21, the office is back closed again).
It was nice to be back in. I even sat at a riser desk so could stand up and work for a bit – I had to make the effort given that when I’m at home I am able to get up and move around regularly, so I’ve got fitter. I even managed to walk up the killer stairs to our floor without being out of breath and tired at the top.
Being back in the ‘normal’ working environment was no longer normal. It’s good to be able to talk face to face. To put on some slightly smarter clothes again other than jeans. To meet new people who I’ve talked to but never met in person.
But it’s not the same. There’s fewer people, I’m likely to mostly see those I directly work with, not my friends I used to sit near and talk to all the time when we were all in the office. It was quiet before, it’s quieter now. There’s rules to remember that take time. And I had a dozy moment when I couldn’t log in, then remembered I didn’t need to login through the vpn like I have to when working remotely.
Because the office feels empty with fewer people allowed in, there’s not the feel of office focus, that everyone around you is working, because you might be the only person on that pod.
I think working from home while things aren’t still back to normal in the office is good for me. It’s definitely what I prefer now, and it’s much more relaxing talking on a video call than on the phone in a quiet office (I do get quite loud on the phone).
What I enjoy about working from home
My own desk space, set up how I want, with my chair. Not hot desking needed.
More focus time. When I need to switch off and just work on something, I can put on do not disturb so calls don’t come through.
Fewer distractions – yes, we do have a bit of a personal chat on calls, but when you’re walking around the office to speak to someone, you might get called on by other people as you walk by. Via Teams or Zoom, you’re only talking to that one person, rather than several more than you intended.
Less involvement in office politics because you’re less aware of what might be going on. It can mean better working relationships, as everyone’s more focused on the job we’re trying to achieve, rather than distractions.
More exercise. I can do some before work, get up and walk around for breaks which you can’t really do without people thinking you’re strange in the office. And I can exercise at lunchtime too.
I can get to the post office (supporting the local one) when needed at lunchtime. No more queues in the one in town.
Family dinners every day. I can prep at lunch, then pop it in later, and it’s ready at 5 or after N’s sports clubs.
No commute means more options for N’s after school activities, because they’re generally 5 mins away, but from the office I have to allow 30 mins to commute to pick him up then get him where he needs to be.
Half an hour extra in bed, less stress as there’s no need for morning club even on my earlier work starts.
More flexibility – 5 mins to get to INR appointments rather than 20 means more choice of times for my INR tests, more flexibility around school pick ups.
Being able to put a washload on in the day time. Less of a rush to get all washing done at weekends.
Working from home more frequently does make the work life balance harder. I rarely worked past the end of the day because I had to do pick up. I might start a little earlier, and I would often work through lunch, but it is hard to switch off.
Switching off was earlier when I worked in the kitchen because I had to pack up for dinner and my laptop wouldn’t go back on until the morning again. But now my desk is all set up, I’m usually logged on between 8-8.10 (I start officially 8.30 or 9 depending on the day), and if I’ve had to get tea on, then I’ll often just pick up a couple of bits after tea to finish off before closing down for the day. I’ll also not take a full lunchbreak unless I am doing chores, or prepping tea.
Tips for a better work-life balance when home working
(do as I suggest, not as I do lol):
- Block lunch time in and arrange something to do in that slot to make sure you get away from work.
- Pack away your computer and work stuff each evening to avoid temptation
- Keep hydrated – have a bottle of water on your desk and keep drinking through the day
- Get up every hour and walk around
- Ideally get outside for 20 minutes daily – before or after work, or at lunchtime.
- If you’re a snacker, have a healthy snack basket that’s for work days to avoid being tempted by family treats.
- If you’re now working from home permanently, try and have clothes that are ‘for work’ rather than for both home and work, so you do feel like you’re switched off better when you finish (or at least at weekends).
Has your working situation changed over the last couple of years? How have you found it?