It’s not for everyone, but working from home has a lot of advantages. Here are a few that are important to me.
Ok, I used to have a laugh with my colleagues sometimes, and random kitchen chats added some variety or introduced me to new people. But overall I’m happy to be working from home and I know I’m more productive now. What do you think?
1. Control over my working environment
This is a big one. It’s basic things, like deciding how warm it should be in your working space. I used to sit under a cold air vent, and typing in fingerless gloves is not fun! It’s also about being able to control other things, such as noise. I need it to be quiet when I’m working, and people chattering away, singing, having loud conversations at the end of my desk, banging doors – all of these things take away a bit of my concentration and make me work harder to focus again.
No background noise at a volume that, for me at least, is higher than background noise (TV etc.) should be. No noisy printer or constant ringing of phones.
In my office, none of these things happen , so I’m more productive.
2. Communication on my terms
For me, this means nobody randomly showing up at my desk demanding my attention, and there are not several conversations at once.
Due to the fact that I spend a lot of time in meetings, I’ve pretty much trained my customers not to call me. Everything gets done by email or message, and I can answer people when I have time.
Also, it’s not a constant stream of chatter – I can deal with people one at a time.
I can listen to and follow multiple conversations, but it drains my energy. I don’t always want to, but my brain doesn’t filter noise out as some people’s do. Your brain might hear a ticking clock or a barking dog and dismiss it, because it’s not important, but I hear and process all the things. So at my birthday dinner, I was aware of most of the conversations around my table, but probably only the people immediately next to me thought I was listening to them. That amount of concentration, voluntary or involuntary, takes energy.
3. No commuting
Yay! I worked in London for around 11 years and had a 3-hour commute each day for about 9 of those. I read a lot of books during that time, but it’s a long time. Some of that was walking, some of it was train journeys, and some of it was waiting around. 3 hours is an estimate for a normal day. When trains were delayed or cancelled, it was longer. I’m not sure I could do it now!
Also, when it snows, I can build a snowman while others are working out how they’re going to get home!
4. Setting my own hours
This is more about working for yourself, but I can go into my office for an early morning meeting or stay late to get something finished without having to think about transport, who’ll be in the building, whether I’ll have access to what I need etc.
5. my own space where nothing moves
I was lucky really in my previous jobs. Even when we had the hot-desking policy, I set down my dog’s bed, set up my equipment, and everyone knew that was my space.
Especially when you’re unable to see, knowing where things are is important. In my last job, we had a clear desk policy, which meant that all personal items had to be tidied away at the end of the day. It didn’t really work as far as I could tell. Tidy people cleared the few things they had away, whilst untidy people just left their trail of destruction.
But it took time to put everything out again, and I don’t have to do this now. No helpful cleaning staff move or put things in an odd place. Nobody borrows or adjusts my chair. Nobody gets between me and my coffee!
6. Better sickness record
I think this may have something to do with the fact that I’m happier, the fact that I’m not commuting in the rain and snow, or just the fact that I’m self-employed, which means that no working = no income! But I also think that not having to sit in an office with other people who are unwell also helps me to stay healthy. Of course I have friends who might be unwell, and S might pick up something from his colleagues or customers, but I’ve had way less sickness absences now than I used to.
7. Healthier eating choices
I guess this could go either way for people working from home with instant access to the fridge, but I actually think I make better choices now.
As someone with a visual impairment, the crazy sandwich shop rush at lunch time was something I tried to avoid because I could never work out the queue or when it was my turn. This meant that most of the time I would take my own food in because I couldn’t guarantee that I’d find someone who wanted to go out when I did. So I’d often make myself some sandwiches or something to put in the microwave.
But if you add in travel time, I was out of the house for a long time. In practice this meant that I ended up taking more food and things to snack on to keep me going until I got home and could cook something.
8. No boring lunch breaks!
I usually took the 30-minute minimum lunch break, ate something, took my dog out, and if there was any time left, went online or read something. But apart from caring for my dog, or the times I decided to do something with a colleague, I often felt as though I was making time pass. Now I don’t usually take a long lunch break, but if I have something at home that I want to do, I can factor that in to my break. If the weather’s good, I can take my lunch outside.
9. I don’t have to share
There speaks the only child! But it’s true – I have an office to myself. Of course I still come into contact with people. I did a quick exercise to see how many people I communicate with in an average day and it’s somewhere between 30 and 50. But it comes back to point 1 I suppose – I’m in control of my own space and of whom I invite into it.
10. Decent coffee
I mentioned my new coffee machine recently. Even before that, I had one of the older type coffee machines in my office. Where I used to work, there was no machine – so you either had to buy one on the way in or drink instant coffee. Since then I’ve discovered the coffee bags, but still, my Nespresso machine is better than anything I’ve had access to at work! Ok, it depends where you work – but decent coffee was never part of my employee benefits package!
So, do you work from home? Would you like to? Can you think of any more advantages? Or would you miss your colleagues if you had to sit in an office by yourself all day? Let me know in the comments!
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