Why are we struggling so much to find a work life balance at home?
Why can we not just enjoy the extra hours gained by not commuting?
What are the 2 main issues holding us back from actually enjoying the benefit of remote working?
Remember catching yourself daydreaming about how great it would be if you could work from home a few days a week? Today, working remotely is nothing new. Everyone’s doing it and seem to be too busy doing so. Where did the freedom go though and why does everyone seem to work at least 12 hours a day?
There is a ton of information available out there on how to work remotely effectively and efficiently, but there’s hardly anything on how to enjoy the process. Is it here to stay, is it still temporary, are we more productive in the office, is the Hybrid model better, should we go back to full time in the office or at home? These questions seem to be all over polls on LinkedIn.
I believe the answer is, there is no one size fits all. Working for a GP surgery is different to working for a tech startup which is again very different to working for Twitter. Whilst there is no clear answer to what will happen by the end of the year, let's look at how we can make it a bit more enjoyable.
The First reason is Psychological. You don't feel that you are doing enough.
When going in the office, things are a little simpler. You come to work 15 minutes early with a cup of coffee and a croissant, you do your work in an efficient way keeping on top of your workload as much as you can, avoiding too much chit chat with that colleague that never knows when to stop. You then leave 10 minutes after your shift has ended and you feel satisfied with your efforts for the day. You were there, everyone was there, your productivity was in many ways witnessed so it won't be questioned.
When working remotely though you naturally feel that you need to do more. You feel that you have been entrusted with your workload and since there is no-one there to witness you working you need to keep on top of absolutely everything, otherwise anything that goes wrong is your fault and everyone will think that you were slacking and not actually taking your work seriously.
Lowering your expectations a little bit and trying to prioritise life a little more is generally the best thing you can do. Many people end up falling into the trap of repeatedly working late because they're "trying to catch up" ending up in an endless loop of working really long hours, then feeling tired the next day, then working at 40% capacity for the biggest part of the day and having to work really late again just to keep on top of that their basic tasks. Clearly that's not a sustainable practice and the more you do it the more you get stuck in that energy sucking loop. I always find myself procrastinating and feeling extremely unproductive if I had to stay and work late the previous evening to achieve a deadline. Try to avoid it as much as you can.
Good working equipment is key
Screen real estate is seriously underrated. Endlessly minimising tabs, windows and programs and stubornly trying to split a small laptop screen to fit 3 different programs to the point where you cannot even see what you're typing is not the way. With the amount of different tools needed to perform most jobs in todays world, an ultra wide monitor next or above your laptop is an absolute must. I spent a year working from a sofa hunched over my laptop on a coffee table until I finally decided to listen to a friend and make space in a corner for a little cluttered corner desk that would allow me to use 2 monitors. The world changed, I felt invincible. It felt like I was doing double the work, in half the time, twice as easy. My setup today is a DropTop.™ Pro L that has 2 screens side by side that are about 30cm above the desk level on adjustable arms and I have my laptop in the centre under them. I use my laptop's screen as the "menu" to access browsers, files and programs and drag them up on one of the working screens. This is the perfect setup for me, I always seem to have everything I need in front of me and big enough so I can comfortably see it. The dining table is not a desk, it was never designed for work. Dragging screens out of cupboards every morning, plugging power leads, chargers adaptors, connecting keyboards and looking for that misplaced mouse again gets very soul consuming after a while and will set you up for a bad start for the day.
A comfortable chair is equally important, your dining chair is designed for short usage and when it starts feeling uncomfortable, you have probably overstayed your welcome as far as that chair is concerned. The sofa may have been good enough for lockdown V1 but it's certainly not a work setup. You will spend more hours on that chair than you spend doing any other activity so definitely invest in comfort, it will change your mood and improve your productivity.
Nothing works without good internet and nothing can be more frustrating than a bad internet connection that keeps on dropping all the time. Have you ever been working on something for 5-10 minutes intensely just to see an error on your screen saying that your work was lost because your internet is down? Yeap, there is no turning back… it feels like handing in your resignation there and then. Why am I working? What’s the meaning of life? To be or not to be? F*ck you internet connection provider, it's all your fault. Thankfully, for most of us this is one of those problems in life that money can actually solve. Speak to your neighbours or check your postcode online and find which provider offers the best internet service at the best price in your area and make the switch today. You will not regret this one.
These are in my opinion the 2 fundamental things you can change, that will have a great immediate impact. No1 your attitude an expectations and No2 your WFH setup.