The past couple of years have been hectic for absolutely everyone in the world; the global pandemic has forced all of us to completely rethink the way we work and the ways in which we are all suddenly supposed to be able to do this remotely. Although this has been a tough adjustment, every working person across the world has had to endure the change and is in the same situation, therefore it is important to remember that no one is on their own with this and we are all united together.
Despite the world slowly starting to gain some aspects of normality again, a lot of people may still be working from home and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, and a lot of future jobs may just be advertised as a ‘remote’ role permanently. According to RemoteYear, it is suggested that around 70% of jobs in the United States that were not previously remote, currently are, with “technology advances” suggesting that this figure will not decrease anytime soon.
The growth of online video communicators such as ‘Zoom’ and ‘Microsoft Teams’, it has ensured that we have all been able to stay connected socially, as well as able to communicate for work and academic purposes too. In spite of remote working being in place for a while now, people may still be struggling to adjust to this new way of working, whether they are the employer or employee, so it is important that everybody comes to terms with how they can personally make this adjustment that slightly bit easier.
Working from home has allowed businesses to view things from a different perspective and suggest that letting their employees work in other environments rather than the office, can actually be really beneficial to all parties involved. It is also super important that every one that is required to work at home has a good home-office environment wherever possible, as this can really make all the difference.
Mental well-being is another very significant aspect to bring up when discussing working from home, and it is important that this is at the top of everyone’s lists when continuing remote work for employees and employers. This blog post will give you the low down on how to successfully implement remote work and the ways in which you can ensure that this is something that is suitable for those in your company that is working from home.
What are the benefits of working from home?
Working from is said to be the “necessary next step” for businesses, so what makes it so beneficial?
- Technology: Without the internet, there would be no remote working! It has ensured the possibility of all members of staff to stay connected to each other and those involved in the work. Online communication sites such as Zoom and Skype have made sure that communication between employees and employers is a smooth and efficient way of getting things done. It allows everyone to continue to have meetings and discussions despite not being face to face.
- Flexibility: Working arrangements become a lot more flexible with remote work, as employees are not assigned to an office place 9-5 for 5 days a week. This may mean that they are more comfortable in their own home, suggesting more willingness to work. Also, more flexible hours and more flexible working days may be available which could, in turn, be better suited for everybody, for example working later in the day or working weekends. This could also meet the needs of those who have employees or even customers in another country with a different time zone.
- Increasing Productivity: Office environments can potentially provide interruptions that may not occur at home, providing the idea that a quieter and less disruptive home environment can supply more genuine work pieces. Employees may also be more inclined to work longer hours, as they are working from the comfort of their own home, which is beneficial for everybody involved.
- Employee Retention: Working from home can help certain employees meet their child care or home care needs, reduce commute costs and ensure that they can work around their personal life. This can really improve employee retention, as it allows them more freedom. Having the ability to work from home provokes more trust and mutual attachment between the employee and the employer, contributing to the loyalty of the staff members.
- Not As Much Holiday Time: Being able to work from home can sometimes already feel like a break from the company office space, despite the fact that employees are still working. This can bring a more enlivened feeling amongst staff as they are spending more time with family or friends that they are living with, suggesting that they might not feel the need to take as much time off. Although this could be the case, it is very important that employers make sure that staff is still always entitled to their holiday leave.
- More Convenient: Home working is all-around just allowing a lot more convenience for all parties involved. Allowing staff to be in charge of their own time (to some extent) and where they base themselves ensures that they can complete their duties at their own expense and convenience. In return, this can easily save a lot of time and costs for both the employee and the company if they are just committing to work at home.
- Good Advertising: Remote working can be a good incentive for people to come and work for you, ensuring you attract new employees and ‘talent’ to your company. Especially in the current climate, a lot of people are looking for remote work, so even offering the option will level you up on the market compared to other companies that are not offering or do not offer this choice to their staff or new recruitments.
- Improved Staff Motivation: As mentioned previously, working from home improves the trust between employees and employers, due to the working relationship not being as closely monitored compared to office work. This provides employees with a higher level of authority and control to complete their work at their own time and pace. It allows a more creative and positive working routine that often suits them, contributing to better motivation levels and encouraging them to get more work done to a higher level.
- Less Absences: As staff is working from the comfort of their own home, they are more likely to continue to work if they are ill or feeling low, as they do not have to leave the house and can take better care of themselves. As employees are working in isolation, there is a lesser chance of spreading illnesses and infections, compared to an office environment where this is hard to avoid.
- Financial Gain: Saving money on office space, rent, supplies, expenses, and bills can all be done if more staff members work from home. Employers can downsize office space if only a few employees are required to work at the office at one time and spend this money wisely on other great benefits for the company.
- Better Work and Life Balance: Remote work can really help employees to distinguish their work life from their home life. It allows them to create boundaries and therefore have a more focused work mode when required. Whatever time would usually be spent on commuting can be spent on other things at home, like spending time with family, so this creates a nice environment and headspace for staff to be in. chores can also be completed during the day if working from home, giving them more time in the evening to relax and feel more refreshed for the next working day.
- Better Health And Wellbeing For Staff: Work stresses such as commuting can be eliminated through remote work, and time savings such as this can result in more sleep, rest, time for food, and exercise. This can result in a much happier and healthier employee.
Creating a good home office environment:
Creating an office space at home can be difficult if the capacity is small, or if there is not the option to completely redo a room to make it into a workspace. It is important to have some kind of area designated where you can work and complete work duties, as well as create rules to ensure there is a divide between work and home life.
Boundaries: Often, when working from home, people find it difficult to separate work life from home life, as there is no gap between them. Setting boundaries that you can follow and abide by can significantly improve this and focus the work mindset properly. Similarly, it is important to implement some office rules and routines at home.
If there is no dedicated workspace at home, then the whole house can become a workspace, completely eliminating that chance of relaxation and being able to switch off. It is also advised not to work in bed or on the couch, as these are the most comfortable and relaxing places in your home, however, if this is where you find you can work best, then you are more than welcome! Working from home allows you to be more flexible with your working hours, yet this is something that should definitely still be monitored and organized, so ensure that you write down and make notes of the hours you plan to work so that this is more easily stuck to.
It is also a good idea for all employees and employers to log their designated working hours so that everyone is aware of each other’s hours and can remind them to clock off if need be. It is also important to take days off seriously – if you are remote working, it is so easy to quickly check your emails or finish off a piece of work on your day off, and then suddenly you’re engulfed in work and your free day has disappeared. Shut down all work computers and gadgets and put away all documents so that there is no temptation to quickly check your work.
Working from home gives you the choice to wear whatever you want, however making sure that you get changed every day out of sleep clothes and into something formal yet comfortable is a great way to create a work boundary. Mentally, this can help you prepare for the working day and contribute to a good routine for the day.
Designing An Office Space At Home: Here are some useful ideas and tips for creating a workspace at home that can help make working from home work for you.
- Having Organised Storage – Using different things for storage such as boxes, having storage and shelves helps to organize folders and documents into sections and creates a space where everything is easily accessible. By doing this, it helps to eliminate untidiness, as it is concisely organized away.
- Comfortable Chair – Investing in a comfortable and ergonomic chair is one vital point that can really benefit staff. Paying attention to the support that it gives your back, neck and arms will help you decide which one is best for you.
- Minimalist Space – Try not to overcrowd your workspace and keep it neutral. Keeping it clean and bright helps to lift the area and awaken the individual each day. Ensure there is a lot of natural light which will coincide with contributing towards a daily cycle and routine.
- Wires – Make sure all wires and trip hazards are out the way and kept tidy too so that no one gets hurt and nothing gets broken too.
- Personalize the space – Although it is important to keep the space neutral, adding little personal touches or bursts of color can lighten the mood and make it feel more comfortable to work in as it is deemed a welcoming environment. This can therefore contribute to better staff production and motivate them to work too which is ultimately the goal.
- Cleaning – Keeping on top of the cleaning and tidying of your home office can ensure that it is a clear environment each day and makes it more bearable. It is also vital to clean all surfaces properly too.
- Working Area and Living Area – If possible, create your home office space where there are fewer distractions, like using a spare room with a door that can be shut away from home life. This is such an essential part of remote working, as it heavily contributes to the important divide between work life and home life. It helps the brain to associate the home office with work and no other rooms.
It is vital to ensure that remote working is suitable for you, your company, and your employees, so that this is a collaborative and productive attribute to your business. It should be something that is carefully planned out, structured, and implemented to ensure that it is beneficial and works for yourself as well as everybody that you work alongside. There should be discussion around which roles can and cannot be done from home, who will want to do remote working, and how any future problems that may occur can be dealt with accordingly.
In order to make home working work for you, you should really make sure that your own personal needs come first and are a top priority. Staying inside and being more isolated while working compared to an official office space surrounded by others, can really affect individuals both mentally and physically, so this is an aspect that really must be in check. A good way to see if an at-home workspace is suitable for meeting specific requirements is to carry out a small and quick risk assessment.
More information on risk assessments for remote working can be found here. Organizing and configuring your daily time is a great way to manage how you work at home as well as your productivity levels. Creating a routine for working days helps you to use time appropriately. Using time, which would usually be spent commuting, to relax, get a little more sleep or even exercise before the day begins can significantly improve your mood and get individuals in the right mindset for the day ahead.
This video from Harvard Business Review explains the importance of also stopping when it stops time. It can be difficult to avoid getting swarmed into piles of work at home when there is no ability to physically avoid the space or room that you are working in the day in and day out. Setting an alarm or scheduling your last call of the day at the same time every day can really help towards ensuring that individuals know when to call it quits, thus contributing in regards to a suitable routine.
Also, taking breaks regularly or whenever you need one, is a super vital requirement whilst working from home. Productivity and motivation levels can be affected negatively if breaks are not taken when needed, so this is definitely something to take note of. Boundaries between work life and home life can be super effective when created and carried out successfully. Having a major divide between the two is so important, and working on this will really benefit how you work at home.