Working from home: progress or problem?

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For few people of working age, the last two years has been unlike any in their career. If you’ve been lucky, Covid-19 hasn’t had a huge effect on your workplace or career, but its unlikely.
For the majority of workers across the country, Covid, in some way, big or small, has affected colleagues, clients, customers and most likely, the workplace as a whole.
Where once, many companies wouldn’t have for one minute considered homeworking as an option, now it is being adopted as the “way forward”.

Britain has experienced the biggest shift of working habits in Europe.
Source: The Economist / Morgan Stanley

The cost is all yours

Saving money on the commute sounds great – with the average UK employee spending £146 a month – there are certainly cost and time savings to be made. However, major household costs such as Electricity and Heating increase, albeit fractionally, when you work from home. Then there’s the other elements that can notch this cost up such as adequate internet, using your own bathroom, toilet paper and soap during the working day, increases in food consumption & snacking and every boil of the kettle is paid for by…you guessed it…you.

Don’t knock the commute

Of all the things work-from-home employees might miss about pre-pandemic life, commuting wouldn’t seem to register high on the attention meter. But nearly a year after being sent home from the office, some employees have realized that losing that time on the bus, train, or street – or in the car – has some drawbacks.

According to research from the Harvard Business School, commuting provides “a temporal and spatial separation between all the different roles we play.” It’s a buffer that eases the transition from one identity to the next, a consistent dose of in-between time to reflect and reset. 

Research indicates that before the pandemic, the average commute was 38 minutes each way. Not only have employees lost that buffer, but they have also taken on more work – about 48 extra minutes per day!

And they are also dealing with more meetings and more communication that spills into off hours – according to findings published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in July.

When we don’t psychologically detach from work, we risk becoming exhausted and burned out. Are we working at home or sleeping at work? We’re all confused! 

Without a commute – we’ve lost that “me” time and the opportunity to unwind, detach, shake everything off from the day. 

Commuting is an opportunity to think about and plan for the role we’re transitioning into – such as shifting from technical analyst or project manager to parent. It allows us to reflect on our upcoming role like what to make for dinner, which chores need to be done, what’s on TV tonight, or what to wear tomorrow. 

When you ride public transportation, you can sit back and relax. You can scroll through social media, read a book, do a crossword, send a message, or DO NOTHING AT ALL.

To go a step further – STUDIES show that public transportation users are generally more active, safer, spend less on transportation, and help better the environment and economy. These factors improve the well-being of riders and those who surround them.

Individuals who use public transportation get an average of 19 minutes of physical activity per day and get over three times the amount of physical activity per day of those who don’t.

Public transportation users take 30% more steps per day than people who rely on cars. In fact – train commuters are 4 times more likely to achieve 10,000 daily steps than car commuters.

Mental Balance

The grass is always greener on the other side. When you’re at work, nothing sounds more amazing than a toasty day indoors with your favourite blanket. When you’re at home, you reminisce about workplace banter, office romance and the days when the vending machine was re-stocked.

Working from home mostly means working alone. Many struggle with willpower, maintaining focus, keeping a routine and avoiding the modern conveniences of food delivery and TV streaming on-demand.

Then there’s the interpersonal elements that make working for a team rewarding, no time for boredom, work-pace being set by those around you and having the ability to ask a question face-to-face and getting an answer there and then. Immediate tech support can take a backseat and receiving and giving one-on-one training becomes devoid of the human touch when we take work away from the workplace.

  • Great ideas don’t come from lone geniuses
  • Diverse perspectives help you come up with winning innovations
  • Teamwork can make you happier
  • When you work in a team, you grow as an individual
  • Sharing the workload eases burnout
  • Dividing the work lets you grow your skills

WFH is great and many people are finally being able to show that they can comfortably fulfil their role without needing to be in the office, but for Staff One, we’re firmly planted in the office, arguing about who used the last of the milk and sending aggressive emails about cleaning up after yourself if you spill something in the microwave. We really believe that it’s all about balance and there’s no set rule for every worker or every workplace, it shouldn’t be written off altogether, nor forced onto every person in the workplace. Some employers are shifting part of the cost of employment onto the employee and making cut-backs in the name of progress.

Our advice? Keep an open mind to both, some of the finest connections, friendships and even romances have started at work, humans are social animals and do exceedingly great things when working together. No amount of technical innovation, web cameras or virtual meeting spaces could ever replace the output of a diverse and engaged group of people working as a team together.

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