Recruitrite is a Darlington recruitment agency that knows what employers are looking for in their staff and what employees need to do to be at their best at work. Here, we share some important insights on the new global working from home phenomenon.
The move towards ‘working from home’ was gathering pace before the COVID-19 pandemic and has – through necessity – accelerated to the point that ‘wfh’ (yep, that funky little acronym for work from home) is and will be ‘the norm’.
But how can you make sure that you get it right when it comes to working from home?
Old Attitudes Towards Working From Home
What typically happened ten years when you announced to the office that you’d be working from home?
More often than not, you’d get a collective snort and a barrage of predictable jokes about how you’d be spending the day in your pyjamas watching repeats of Morse or bingeing Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
That was annoying. Especially to those that worked very productively and responsibly at home. And also infuriating to people with commitments like school or nursery pick-ups that require flexibility. Not everyone had parents, spouses or partners that could help them with that.
But the cynical attitude towards wfh was understandable, in a way.
For one thing, some people (the minority, largely) really did ‘take the michael’.
They’d cite a particular piece of work they had to get done by a deadline as their reason for wanting to work from home – and yet, lo and behold, they’d turn up in the office after their wfh day having made absolutely no progress with that work whatsoever. And then a picture would show up on Facebook of them in town on the megalash the night before their wfh day.
And, for another thing, the technology and tools weren’t really there for managers or colleagues to be able to keep in touch or collaborate with the person working from home.
More Recent Positive Attitudes Towards Working From Home
Those dudes in San Francisco are creating amazing new products and services worth billions to their companies while working at home – so why can’t we?
That was the question many people began to ask as – thanks to widely accessible and cost-efficient new technologies and methods of communication – the way towards working collaboratively from remote locations became clearer.
But, while a Technology Director or IT leader might be well behind the idea of the workforce working from home in a staggered way at least one day per week as standard, it was still a bit of a struggle to get the idea past fuddy-duddy CEOs or less trusting managers. And sometimes even non-workers that didn’t believe that they or their colleagues would be disciplined enough to be productive working from home.
Working from home was still being seen as a luxury or benefit, as opposed to something that staff should be able to do as a standard to allow greater flexibility and sense of wellbeing at work.
OK – Global Lockdown Has Meant Most Of Us Have To Work From Home
The last few months have been, well, challenging to say the least.
Beyond the obvious devastation and tragedy that COVID-19 has brought with it, the lockdown introduced by governments across the world has meant that companies and their staff have had to adapt and innovate very quickly. Especially when it comes to working from home.
Why didn’t we do it sooner? OK, working from home all the time isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (organisations and their staff will have to get the balance between wfh and working in the office right in the future), but look at the good it’s done recently:
- Lots of people have been able to retain their jobs
- we’ve generally worked together before than ever before
- we’ve kept businesses running and paying full salaries
- and we’ve helped keep the economy running as a result
- We’ve seen fantastic innovations like historically physical businesses pivoting to a delivery or eCommerce model – businesses that not might have survived have actually ended up thriving
- People have started to enjoy a better quality of life thanks to improved mental health and enhanced work-life balance
- We’ve been hugely productive – and will be even more so once the bairns have properly gone back to school in September
- Think not only how much good it’s doing us personally not to be battling traffic and rushing about on our daily commutes but also how beneficial the reduction in commuting – whether that be by car, public transport or even air travel – has been to the planet
With all these positives in mind and previous barriers to wfh overcome, let’s make sure we all adhere to best practices for working from home. Based on their extensive experience and insights, here’s what our recruiters recommend.
Set A schedule
OK, so, we were all complaining about the constraints of ‘9-5’ even before the Dolly Parton classic and the incredibly prescient film it first featured in. But there really are benefits to creating and maintaining some structure in your working day.
For one thing, it stops the working day from creeping into your personal and home life. Nobody wants that.
For another, knowing that you’ve got to get something done in the next hour or so helps prevent procrastination and enhances productivity. And that’s good for your working life and your personal life, because you won’t spend all night worrying about that incomplete piece of work preying on your mind.
Make Sure You’ve Got A Proper Workspace
OK, so we don’t all have room for a dedicated office in our homes.
But you can’t just work on your sofa, unfortunately. Why?
- You’ll end up watching Homes Under The Hammer or box sets
- It’s not good for your posture, back or neck
- Other people in your household might need the sofa – and it won’t be easy to work if they’re distracting you
- Finally, you should keep your sofa for relaxing and personal time – like, erm, watching box sets, snuggling up and piling into the Malbec in your onesie
In lieu of a home office, use the kitchen table or a quiet bedroom – and make sure that you come to an agreement with other occupants of your household that they don’t disturb you Except to bring cups of tea and snacks. And on that point…
Take Regular Breaks!
So, it can be easy to sit at your desk or equivalent all day staring into the computer, bashing away at the keys or making conference calls. But give yourself a break. Get up. Walk around. Go outside. Take the dog for a walk. Watch a bit of TV. Do whatever it is that you need to do to take your mind and body away from work. And do so regularly.
Well, it’s better for productivity and the quality of your work. It’s proven that people can only properly concentrate on tasks for a very limited amount of time (and that time is a lot shorter than you might think).
In your day-to-day office environment, you’re forever taking short breaks from your work, whether it’s to walk to another meeting, make a brew or chat to your mates. It’s completely normal and expected. But those opportunities aren’t so available to you when you’re working from home.
Getting out for a bit of fresh air and some exercise – however minimal or strenuous – is good for your physical health.
It’s also good for your mental health because it takes you away from work and prevents mental fatigue and obsessive behaviours.
Make Sure You’ve Got The Right Tools For The Job
Having a slow computer or not being able to access the right folders or digital work tools can not only have an adverse impact on your productivity but also be flipping frustrating! And frustration is one of the worst things to experience in the workplace, because it can make you resent your job or fall out with colleagues or managers.
To prevent this, make sure you’ve got a computer in good working order and proper, easy access to everything you need to do your job properly and without getting in a tizzy. Inform your manager or it, and make sure they sort it!
Make The Most Of The Tools Available
Working at home alone for extended periods of time can be, as they say in the country & western songs, a bit lonesome.
So, it’s a good thing that so many of us have now got access to great digital collaboration tools that let us keep in touch with colleagues (and work bezzies) and feel part of a work community through Zoom calls, quizzes and other activities.
Make sure you do learn how to use these tools properly and use them to their best potential, though, won’t you? Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t get them to work – just ask a friendly face to show you how.
And when it comes to Zoom and other video calling, unless you have a company policy that says you have to, don’t feel pressured into:
- Constantly being on calls to aimlessly discuss issues that could probably be sorted with an email
- Turning the camera on! Fine if you want to, but some people just aren’t comfortable with it (they might be more so once they’ve managed to get into the hairdressers – but even then, maybe not. It’s just not natural to some people)
What To Wear?
OK, so there are some pretty polarised views on how people should work when working from home, but really it should be about what you’re most comfortable working in.
So, work in your pyjamas if you feel like it, but make sure you’re in the right frame of mind by showering and not wearing the same pjs day after day.
Equally, if you’d rather wear something smarter, that’s cool – but remember that most other people probably won’t. Don’t stress about it. You do your thing, they’ll do theirs.
Use Training And Development Opportunities – If You Want To
At the start of lockdown, there were some posts going round from entrepreneurs that seemed to be pressuring everyone else on the planet to develop new skills to further their careers.
There was understandably a backlash against that. Firstly, people have had enough going on worrying about COVID-19 or dealing with new mental health challenges. Secondly, not all of us are wired like the contestants on The Apprentice – gaining a competitive advantage over other people isn’t some people’s natures. They’d rather have a cup of tea and a biscuit.
But if you are inclined to learn new skills and develop yourself professionally, there are thousands of webinars and online training programmes out there. Maybe speak to your manager about them letting you set aside some time to go on a few?
Above All – Be Professional
These are indeed very strange and challenging times. Some of us are very lucky to be able to work from home. Others have lost their jobs because some companies hadn’t been through digital transformations that would allow their businesses and staff to carry on working remotely.
So, bearing in mind that we’re fortunate to have jobs, let’s maintain good professional standards and do the best jobs we can!
Looking for a new job? Recruitrite is the right Darlington recruitment agency for you
At Darlington recruitment agency Recruitrite, we’re about changing lives and companies. We only live once, so we’ve got to do it ‘rite’!
Recruitrite deliver the ‘rite recruitment’ solution at the rite time, changing individuals’ and company’s lives by enabling them to achieve their unique objectives.
It’s becoming clear that employers and employees will be expecting work from home as a standard, so let’s make sure this new way of working really does work for us.
If you’d like to discover how recruitment agency Darlington Recruitrite could help you find your next great role or are recruiting for new staff, please give us a call on 01325 734 858 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.