Working from home works

  • Photograph of someone sitting at a table with papers and computer working from home.

Image courtesy of iStock.

In the past year, many people have had their first go at working from home. Some people have ranged farther afield taking their tablet computers, cellular phones and laptops to more exotic locations like parks, beaches or even vantage points along highways just to take a break from being at home all the time.

I understand that being at home so much can be rough on someone used to being out and about in the busy world and many of you are likely anticipating when we can venture forth into the world again. I would like to ask you a favor; keep working at home, regularly.

When you are able to go back to the office, consider working from home one or two days a week. Many people have found that they can often get more done, are more relaxed and you still can be in the office to interact with coworkers to light the creative spark; the best of both worlds. In addition, for every able bodied person who advocates for the opportunity to work from home, you help people with disabilities who may only be able to work from home due to their condition.

Modern technology allows us to work with much more mobility which is great for people who need to have a mobile office. However most of us need less mobility and more stability, reliability and security. Even if you do not have a home office, working from your breakfast nook can be great for concentration and productivity. Moving your work to a coffee shop, or a park might be a nice change from sitting at home all the time but you are merely distracting yourself, if not procrastinating.

In my opinion, leave your work at home and go to the park to relax, play frisbee with the kids or dog. You will be more relaxed and focused. If you take your work to the park, you are ruining the park for yourself and maybe others. As much as you can, keep your work and your relax time and space separate. The delineation will help your focus, it will help your output and it will give you the sense that you are “at work” or “not at work.” When you are not at work, do not do work related things. Unless you are someone who is paid to be on call, your coworkers can wait until your next shift.

I have been working from my home since my college days back in the 1990s and even ran my own business in the early 2000s from my bedroom. I would sometimes go out to a park, a coffee shop, or a library for a change of venue. There may be good reasons to do that on occasion, such as you just really need to interact with other people, or you need a creative nudge. I would go back home to get more thoughtful work done. I found it hard to concentrate on complicated work while in the chaotic world at large, and the music tended to be better at home.

Until the past year, most businesses actively pushed against people working from home for many reasons, most of them lame. The COVID pandemic has shown these employers to be the anti-innovators that they are. I am thinking specifically of one job. A thousand of us seasonal employees crammed into a former Air Force warehouse building with inadequate air conditioning. We all sat behind a computer terminal pushing one of 6 buttons as we checked the answers for standardized tests. With the technology even of the mid-2000’s, this could have been done completely remotely and securely. At least with standardized testing being considered passé, they might not be open at the moment.

There are many good reasons to go into the office and many reasons to work from home. Look at the job that you do and ask yourself where you are most creative, where you are most productive and what you really need to do your job. Do not even consider the technology. We have had the technology for working from home for more than 30 years. Technology is not the problem.

Fear of change is.

Change is here. Like it or not.