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The quiet, grinding loneliness of working from home

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https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/jul/14/end-of-the-office-the-quiet-grinding-loneliness-of-working-from-home

theguardian.com

The quiet, grinding loneliness of working from home
Before Covid-19, many of us thought remote working sounded blissful. Now, employees across the world long for chats by the coffee machine and the whirr of printers

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Longing For The Office Culture

Longing For The Office Culture
  • Earlier a privilege for a few, work from home became a norm for most office-goers due to the ongoing pandemic and is likely to remain for the rest of the year.
  • The shift towards wo...

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Work-Life Balance When Working From Home

  • Though employees are happy to see the demise of daily commutes and parking hassles, they are finding out that there is no work-life balance at home.
  • Most workers live in apartments...

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Digital Monitoring

Monitoring software that checks time spent on different applications, chat response time, and keystroke recording is now in great demand.

HR departments worldwide are fueling the use of tec...

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The Sound Of Office

The sound of the office, with printers, keyboards and coffee machines is something that is missed so much that many are a Spotify playlist of workplace sounds while working from home.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The new normal

Global companies, from the UK to the US, Japan to South Korea, have recently rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies amid the spread of the new virus.

Working from home will become t...

Clear communication

The key to working from home is clear communication with your boss. Your manager might not be used to managing people virtually or may not have a ready-to-go suite of tools for remote workers.

To prevent a breakdown in communication, you need to know exactly what's expected of you from day-to-day. Ask your boss for a 10-minute video call to start and end the day. Reach out to coworkers and managers regularly so that you won't get forgotten.

Treat it like a real job

  • Don't lounge around in your pajamas. Treat it like a real job.
  • Create a space exclusively for work that is removed from distractions, just like you would at your office desk.
  • Create boundaries within your home that your family members understand when you're 'at work.'
  • Bookend your day. If you can't enter and leave a physical office that creates more precise boundaries, use psychological transitions like a 20-minute coffee in the morning, then exercise right after work.

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Early times

Before the Industrial revolution, everyone worked out of their home and sold their goods from there. With the Industrial Revolution came the need for automation and factories, and employ...

From factories to cubicles to WiFi

Just after WW2, there was a rise in corporate headquarters and larger office spaces and cubicles. During this time, the 8-hour workday was established.

Then came the advancements in computers and technology that lead to remote workers of today. The internet and public WiFi allowed employees to do everything they would in their cubicle, but outside the office. They can also work all hours of the day.

Remote work is common

4.3 million people currently work from home in the United States at least half of the time, and this figure has grown by 150% in the last 13 years.  

Remote workers tend to have higher engagement rates and higher productivity levels. Once they switch to remote work, they rarely want to become office bound again.

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Digital Nomad

The idea of working from home, on your laptop, flexibly, without having to do the daily commute, is appealing to many office workers.
In the UK there are 4.8 million freelance wo...

The Other Side

Studies on long term work-from-home workers found that lack of interaction with colleagues and the lack of an office vibe can result in a disconnection from the outer world, leading to isolation.

Working at Home

Pitfalls of working from home: 

  • Mental health disorders like anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Feeling isolated
  • Less self-discipline
  • Lack of exercise
  • Unable to keep the boundaries between work and life.

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Working Remotely

There is ongoing turbulence in the workplace due to the uncertainties provided by the new virus, resulting in a whole lot of people working from home. Normally the work-from-home policies are esta...

Common Challenges of Remote Work

Even high-performing employees can face a decline in job performance and engagement when working remotely. This can be due to:

  • Lack of face-to-face supervision, which leads to a two-way communication gap and even mistrust.
  • There is a delay in the procurement of information as remote workers aren’t able to sense the atmosphere and real-time events at the workplace, leading to a lack of ‘mutual knowledge’.
  • A sense of isolation among remote workers, leading to a feeling of less belongingness within the organization.
  • Distractions at home due to unplanned work-from-home transition, with employees balancing childcare and many other responsibilities along with work.

Improving Engagement And Productivity

A few specific, research-backed steps that can be taken to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees:

  • Establishing Structured Daily check-ins, by establishing a daily call or touchpoint.
  • Providing several different communication technology options, using virtual communication tools like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams etc., and making use of video conferencing.
  • Establishing clear rules of engagement for communicating with the coworkers or the managers, according to the levels of urgency.
  • Providing opportunities for remote social interaction by talking about non-work activities, thereby reducing the feeling of isolation among remote workers.
  • Offering encouragement and emotional support by listening to the workers, acknowledging their stress, and keeping their needs and issues in focus.

Changes you may see

If and when you return to your office after the pandemic, you'll probably notice some changes.

  • The doors of the building may open automatically, so you don't have to touch the handl...

Working from home

Before the pandemic, only 4 percent of the US workforce worked from home at least half the time. However, the trend of working from home had been gaining momentum for years.

It is estimated that within a couple of years, 30% of people will work from home multiple days per week.

Continued remote work

  • Before the pandemic, a lot of company management and leaders were skeptical regarding remote work. But the skepticism will go away because companies recognize that remote work does work.
  • The economic impact of the pandemic will likely force employers to cut costs. They may reduce their rent by letting workers work from home instead of layoffs.
  • Employers had to spend money on new technology and equipment to work from home - a departure from the norm.
  • Employees themselves are also spending more money to create better home offices.

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Working From Home

Working from home means that all the chaos of your home (pets, family members, kids, and kitchen noises) is part of your entire workday.

Self-Discipline, concentration and work ethic are need...

Working is From Anywhere

WFH (Work From Home) eventually means you are working from coffee shops, parking lots, from your car while driving, and almost anywhere you can log in to your laptop or communicate on your phone.

No one knows where you are and what you are doing, and that can be an advantage, but also can be misused. 

Start Early and Mimic Office Time

The schedule that makes you start early, and mimic the office hours works best, as you end up being free earlier too. However, night owls may find working at night to be more productive or comfortable for them.

Maintaining a schedule in a routine, while incorporating regular exercise with it, works best.

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Remote work

The pandemic has forced companies the world over to move to remote working protocols. But like most things worth doing, there are different levels of proficiency and sophistication to scale.

Level 1: Non-Deliberate Action

Most organizations were at level one prior to the new virus outbreak where nothing deliberate has been done by the company to support remote work.
  • Employees can still offer a good service if they're at home for a day.
  • Employees have access to their phone and email and can even attend a few meetings, but they put off most things until they're back in the office.

Level 2: Recreating the Office Online

Most organizations are at level 2. This is where employees have access to videoconferencing and instant messaging software as well as email, and they try to recreate online, how they work in the office. Examples include:

  • A 10-person video-call where two people would suffice.
  • 60+ interruptions a day via Slack and phone calls.
  • Sporadic checking and responding to email many times a day.
  • Hyper-responsiveness that is expected of all employees.
  • People are still expected to be online from 9 to 5.
  • Screen-logging software on employees' machines to play the role of Big Brother.

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Following the rules

Following the rules

If there is one group of people you expect to set an example and follow the rules, it would be the people issuing them. In New Zealand, the health minister Dr. David Clark was demoted after he ...

Pleasing different stakeholders

The simplest reason leaders are inconsistent is that they think they can get away with it. Although that may be true in some cases, most people like to see themselves as virtuous.

Another reason for demanding one thing and doing another is to please different audiences. It may feel like leaders are doing the right thing in two different contexts.

Different cultural views

In countries that emphasize the needs of the group over the individual, like Asian and Latin American countries, inconsistent behavior is not immediately associated with hypocrisy.

In collectivistic cultures, people will prioritize the preservation of relationships, even when people have double standards.

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Separate Your Work and Home

Separate Your Work and Home

Simple activities make our workday at home effective:

  • Make a clear transition from home to work, by waking up, getting ready and having breakfast on time.
  • Do not check your...

Set An Agenda

Make a to-do list a day before and start without friction in the morning with complete clarity.

Having a structure of the day helps in your productivity, and gets you to finish your important tasks on time.

Disconnect From Work

Try to block some time off your workday to have a stroll outside, or to make coffee, or a midday lunch break. This brings the day under your control.

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How Remote Work Became Possible

How Remote Work Became Possible
  • Computers and the internet have made remote work a common arrangement, and this is a recent phenomenon. PC and internet access changed the shape of work in an unimaginable way, and the techn...

Slow Adoption of Flexible Work

Today, remote and flexible work arrangements are seen as a perk.
In 2018, a survey showed that around 3 percent of Americans worked from home on a regular basis. Due to technological advancements (starting with Blackberry), employees were working from everywhere, the subway, the café, home and during the commute.

But even after we have the technology required for remote working for about fifteen odd years, we have been slow to adopt mainstream remote working. The mass-adoption needed a catalyst, and that was provided in 2020 in the form of a deadly disease.

Remote Work During The Pandemic

  • The 2020 pandemic has shown that all remote working is possible, and bosses are no longer reluctant towards it, a forced change due to the present conditions.
  • Many global giants like Google and Twitter have embraced remote work in a big way, in their bid to protect worker health and to reduce corporate liability.
  • The unpredictable nature of the pandemic and an expectation of the second wave of infections can hamper any chance to return to offices.

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