2020 has been a crazy year and has caused a massive amount of change across many areas of our lives.
However, it seems that some of the greatest impact has been felt in how we work and how business is now done.
One of the biggest realisations for many companies is that it may actually be more beneficial and cost effective for their employees to work from home.
And as a result, we now witness the great migration as companies encourage their employees to ditch the comforts of their normal office set up and reconfigure their homes to house their new remote office.
Now, we’ve all seen the working-from-home Zoom disasters – the kid’s video-bombing business meetings; cats walking across people’s faces onscreen and angry partners bursting in midway through important conference calls.
Which for some of you has tarnished the concept completely.
But there are also many benefits to working from home, that can add huge value to your life and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Here are my suggestions for the top 5 benefits of working from home and making the most of this opportunity.
Have you ever taken the time to calculate just how much time you spend travelling to and from work?
Research shows that the average commute in the UK is 59 minutes per day, that roughly 221 hours per week.
That’s over 2 years of your life spent travelling to a place where many of you don’t even want to be.
Working from home saves you the time and hassle of the daily commute to the office.
Roll out of bed – and you can be at work within minutes! Or at least, once the kids are at school!
Many people now working from home are starting work earlier than usual, immediately after breakfast, and are working late – with no need to pack up for the day.
Meanwhile, you can prep your lunch in your own kitchen – and switch the washing-machine on at the same time.
A chore isn’t a chore when it’s a comfort break.
The convenience of working from home increases motivation and is a more pleasurable experience.
Make sure your work-life balance is maintained, and life will be a lot better.
2. No Commuting Stress
With the removal of the commute you also remove the stress that often comes with it.
With traffic jams, public transport cancellations and delays, potential accidents and tiredness – this can all be very stressful, anxiety-making and exhausting.
Apart from this, and wasted time, research studies have evidenced that commuting even 10 miles every day is results in health issues like increased cholesterol, blood sugar levels and risks of depression.
So, working from home improves both your mental and your physical health.
The time you save can be better spent on other priorities aside from work, like getting more sleep each morning, having more family time, working out, or having a healthy and leisurely breakfast, instead of the mad rush to get out.
3. Cost savings
Consider how much you save in travel expenses – whether it’s the cost of your Oystercard, railcard, bus fare, or petrol and car maintenance and parking fees.
Add to that the cost of buying coffees and lunches – and buying and maintaining business wear (dry-cleaning, etc.), and you’ll find that your salary will go much further.
If you’re a business owner who’s renting and maintaining expensive office premises – this might be the time to consider whether you actually need these facilities, going forward, or whether certain sections and teams can work remotely, from home.
Do a cost-benefit analysis for the future.
4. Increased productivity
Many people are finding that they can work better without constant interruption from colleagues and general office noise.
Especially if you usually work in an open-plan office with its constant distractions and disturbances.
You’ll be amazed at how much work you can get done when you’re not having to deal with mundane queries and requests, friendly banter about TV and football or even greetings and offers of cups of tea.
In fact, working from home increases your focus and productivity, and improves overall work quality.
Do maintain your connections and relationships with your colleagues, however. Of course, you do have the option of platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, which allow you to connect with your peers instantly at the click of a button.
However, I would always suggest making time for real, live face-to-face interaction wherever social distancing rules allow – at least a couple of times a week for a walk, or for lunch or a coffee where the regulations permit.
This can make such a difference to your day or week, and gives you something to look forward to.
5. Autonomy in personal workspace
Because it’s your own home, you have the freedom to personalise your work area as you please, making it much more user-friendly and comfortable for you – meeting your own needs and desires without having to conform to ‘company standards’, image or convention.
If you already have a home office – that’s great. But otherwise, repurposing part of a bedroom or another quiet corner in your house to set up your work area will delineate that space.
Design and decorate it according to your wishes and needs: display motivational materials, plants, family photos, crystals, scented candles, flowers, or whatever uplifts you and raises your energy.
Lie down on cushions, or spread papers on the floor if it helps you to think.
We often don’t give ergonomics a second thought when we are working from home – we just make do with what we already have, using a dining-chair or armchair.
But not having the correct support for long periods of time can be detrimental to your physical health, negatively impacting on your back or shoulders, and causing serious problems.
Either make an investment by purchasing a suitable chair or bring your office chair home from work, because it can save you a lifetime of pain.
Allocate an area
Having a dedicated workspace of your own at home allows you to manage your time with more purpose, and enhances your working day.
Generally, we associate different areas of the house with different things: for example, the bedroom with sleeping and the kitchen with the preparation of food.
Like a conditioned response, you unconsciously react accordingly whenever you set foot in the room.
Create a space within your home, so that each time you enter that space, you instinctively know that it’s time to get down to work.
Allocating a space specifically for work will unconsciously put you in the right state of mind: whenever you sit there, your mind will immediately be geared towards work.
My key advice for anyone creating a home work-space for the first time is to find a place close to a window where you have lots of natural light and can get fresh air.
Ensure that the surrounding area is clutter-free, because a messy working area will have a negative impact.
Getting the most from working from home
As working from home becomes the norm, inevitably it has its own pros and cons and there are risks and challenges.
Do avoid waking up late, not bothering to get dressed all day, watching TV, or dipping into the cupboard or fridge every 30 minutes, just because you can!
It takes self-discipline to work from home successfully, so develop a routine that you will maintain to ensure that your day remains productive and helps you to maintain strong mental clarity.
Set the alarm as usual and consider this as your working day.
To make the most of remote working and to offset any drawbacks, you can use these suggestions to take advantage of the convenience of homeworking, the mental and physical health benefits, cost savings, improved productivity and relationships, and having your own personalised workspace, in a daily work routine that produces results.
Doing your homework never felt so good.