Always wanted to work from home? Course you have. Who doesn’t want to respond to emails in their PJs? Well with COVID-19 showing no signs of slowing down, there’s never been a better time to ask your boss if you can get corporate from the couch.
Obviously, not everyone can work from home, and if you know your job can’t be done remotely you probably don’t think about it too much.
But if your job involves rocking up to log onto a computer, discuss synergy with your colleagues and hone your paper plane designs, you might have found yourself questioning why you can’t clock on from your balcony. Or the beach. Or New Caledonia.
Remote work is on the rise in Aus, but it’s still generally a privilege reserved for bigger companies and more experienced staff.
An article in the Australian Financial Review (#business) the other day laid it plain:
‘Coronavirus is creating a global experiment in working from home that could have major implications for traditional head offices.’
That’s right, quarantine is on the menu, and it could change the way we work permanently.
Home Office Heroes
I’ve got a little experience here. For the first two years of working with We Are Explorers I worked from home, every day. We just didn’t have an office. It’s pretty epic; lunchtime trail runs, tapping out articles in cafes and never getting behind on washing were all big drawcards.
But it does grind you down if you don’t approach it right. So here are my tips for locking in some work from home time and making it last.
Think Like A Boss
Right now, the key thing every business wants to avoid is their entire office getting sick. Some companies are asking staff to work from home if they feel the slightest bit ill or have travelled at all, others are alternating the days their staff are in the office. Effectively halving the risk of the entire company going down.
My mate works at a consultancy in the city where they’ve been asked to take home their laptops every night:
‘The vibe is that remote work will become increasingly common, and maybe indefinite, if things keep escalating.’
We’re proving that remote work is more possible than ever before, and it’s hard to see us going back to the old days once the panic’s over.
So convincing your boss to let you work remotely shouldn’t be too hard in the age of coronavirus, but if they’re a bit scared to break with tradition, remember to think like a boss. Anything they implement has to be fair and consider everyone in the company.
Make sure you do these key things if you want to prove that working from home is sustainable long term:
- Be online when you’re expected to be
- Make sure you’re as, if not more efficient, than normal
- Keep your chat about midday baths and running errands on the DL, bosses worry!
- Highlight how you’re paying for your own tea and toilet flushes all day
- Lend your boss a copy of Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia). That’s what we did and now we get to work from home on Wednesdays
- Yep, I wrote this at home!
Long term, the benefits of a workforce who sometimes gets to work from home are pretty clear: increased morale, increased productivity, reduced employee turnover and paying less office rent are all pretty tasty. But to get there you’ll have to wriggle into your boss’s head and make sure you’re ticking all their boxes.
So You Want To Work Remotely, Long Term
You’ve convinced your boss that working from home is a winner in the long term, so how do you keep the momentum going?
If it’s just one day a week you’re probably ok. The novelty of using your laptop on the toilet or conference calling without pants on stays nice and fresh*. And you can hopefully book in the tasks that suit working remotely best for those days (for me, that’s writing articles).
Personally this is the best setup, it’s hard to replicate seeing my colleagues in the flesh and it’s nice to ride the wave of energy when everyone’s working together.
But this all depends on your personality, and your job. So what if you want to work from home more frequently, or try to work remotely full time?
Here are my tips:
- Wake up early. Sleep ins are a downward spiral
- Dress nice. You don’t have to put on a suit, but wear fresh clothes that make you feel good (not your pyjamas, trust me)
- Leave the house. The lunchtime nature reset is my fave, but a cheeky cafe will do in a pinch
- Ideally, create a home office, or at least get a desk. It’s hard to keep a work-life balance if your entire house feels like a workspace!
- Set some rough work hours and use timers to keep a gauge of how much working vs scrubbing the bath you’re clocking
- Ice cream and cheezels are not breakfast, nor lunch. In fact, stop buying snacks for the house (again, trust me)
A Brave New World
Working from home is The Dream™ – and has the potential to radically change the way we approach work. In Norway, if you tell someone you’re working long hours they’ll think you’re inefficient, not a hard worker.
Concepts like the 5 hour work day are within reach, and although it’s the silver lining to a horrible epidemic, I think there’s potential for a pretty cool future.
Because more time off means more time for exploring, and we’re all about that.
*Conference calling while on the toilet is the ultimate boss move.