We aren’t technically in a post-COVID world, but the want for working remotely is still going strong.
There is a difference between wanting to work remotely vs. needing to work remotely. And working remotely isn’t for everyone – working in staffing and having to have countless conversations with individuals regarding their performance while working from home proves that. Don’t get me wrong, some people can do it and do it well, but it takes a lot of structure to do it. king of the idea of wanting to “try” working from home, I think there are a few things to take into consideration to determine if this is best for you and your employer.
Remote work is not a replacement for childcare
The number one reason I hear on why people want to work from home is because of children. While I can 100% sympathize and understand the need of flexibility from parents, remote work isn't a one size fits all for all households with children. Sometimes I ask myself, how did parents handle this before March 2020? Is before or after school care an option? Brainstorming alternative options is a good thing when job hunting, especially with children in mind.
While March-May 2020 may have had more leniency due to childcare facilities and schools not being open, working remote does not replace the need for childcare. Even though it may be a money saver, the expectation in a remote capacity, is that you will have a quiet and separate workspace to be able to work without distractions. That doesn’t mean you have to sit in a dark cave with no outside light or music quietly playing in the background, but that does mean you won’t have screaming kids in the background with Tik Tok videos playing.
Remote work is not for everyone
We all think we have the structure and regiment to be successful working from home, but it’s not for everyone and that’s ok.
I remember when the country shutdown, my husband and I were sent to work from home, and he was scratching at the door to get back into the office as soon as they reopened his office. For my husband, he needs to have the structure of waking up at the same time every day, leaving 35 minutes early (for his 18-minute drive), going out to lunch, and leaving work at work at the end of the day.
The idea of working from home can be very enticing, you don’t have to worry about the drive to and from work, spending money on gas, or wear and tear on your vehicle, but is it worth your performance suffering if you don’t have the right frame of mind when you are working from home ? It’s easy to get distracted while at home – doing laundry, tidying up the house, taking the dog on a walk, and then before you know it, 25 minutes has flown by and you haven’t been productive.
Mental health and working from home
According to the American Psychiatric Association, remote workers’ mental health has declined due to the feeling of isolation, loneliness, and difficulty of work/life balance and leaving work at work.
There have certainly been times where I have felt the need to get out – go grab lunch, leave the house after work just to get out and completely disconnect. I remember the feeling of working remote, thinking that it would be temporary in 2020 and having to work from the kitchen table (because why set up a big workstation, we thought it would only be for a few weeks.) I struggled pushing my work aside and eating dinner right next to my computer, notebooks, to-do lists, etc. Once I realized this wasn’t going to be a few weeks, I set up a workstation in the spare bedroom I have in my house and that way once I was done for the day, besides going to close the blinds or cleaning, I could walk away from the space and try not to think about work.
Another way to combat that feeling of “loneliness” is to continue to connect with your peers that you used to see every day – you can do that by picking up the phone and talking to them, see how they are doing. Or as much as people may roll their eyes to it, set up video meetings through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc.
And when you are feeling burnt out from working from home, it’s so important to communicate with your management team about what you can do for a day off. That doesn’t mean just taking some random day off because at the end of the day, your employer is running a business and taking a busy day off isn’t mutually beneficial to either of you. Communication is so crucial while working from home – so don’t forget to use your voice and see what you can work out with your employer when you're feeling burnt out.
Working remotely absolutely has its perks but working remotely can’t just be because “my friends or family members are doing it and I thought, hey why not – I can do it too.” There are some jobs and companies that you cannot work from home. It’s important to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you have the structure needed to stay on task while working from home, in addition to making sure you can remain productive and balance the not so fun side of being a fully remote worker.