WFH…Is It Over?

This week video conferencing specialists Zoom announced that they expect employees back in the office at least for some of the week. At least if you are working within “commutable distance” of their offices.

It’s not just a Zoom – which strangely was the weapon of choice when we were all sent home for the COVID-19 pandemic – but also the likes of Amazon have decided that they will track and penalise employees working from home too much. And it’s not just them either. Over the past year the likes of BT Group, Apple and Twitter/X have also decided on some form of return to work. 

So what’s the big fuss? 

Work from home was a necessity during the pandemic for obvious reasons but now that’s in some kind of endemic phase it’s not really a barrier to bringing people back to the office any more. Top level management are seemingly intent on using that office space they’ve spent the cash on to reap the benefits of bringing teams back together. Or so the theory goes right?

I read different articles and different studies on the effect from working from home. Some in favour, some against. Personally I think it’s very much down to the individual and their circumstances. I do work from home but I don’t really like doing it as I feel there should be a separation of work and home space but also interacting with people face-to-face is critical important. I do live alone so that’s a big reason for the aforementioned mind

There are MANY different benefits to working from home polices in terms of environmental benefits (less cars on the road and/or stuck on the M62 might be nice for some), parental responsibilities, focus in busy environments (who on earth likes working in open offices?!) and countless others.

Despite the fact I personally wouldn’t work from home if I chose to I would still discourage an employer from withdrawing the facility. Fact is that it’s outdated to think that computerised work can only take place in one location and that location must be the company offices. Not everybody wants to work in an office and be closely supervised on work they can do easily at home. Just why am I working this hard just so that employers can decide working from a beach bar is a bad idea?

Winter Beckons

British Computing Society

I’m at a busy time in consultancy!

The only recent professional development to share is that recently joined the British Computing Society which I’m currently on the induction phase. More on that story later but yet another shiny badge right here. 

We’re fast approaching Christmas which means that winter is also looming for those in the northern hemisphere of planet Earth. Conditions in the UK are also becoming quite challenging. The cost of living crisis is making a real, human impact and we are also entering a period of economic recession. We’ve also got to adapt to Brexit whether we voted for it or not. With this in mind I’ve been making sure I’m as prepared for the winter months as best as possible to ensure I am mentally well.

I thought I’d share some tips for surviving work from home (WFH) during winter. These are written by an IT person so take and tweak accordingly.

  • Ensure you’re interacting with others and not just through glass – if you are like me and live alone this is not the greatest time of the year. It can get lonely and is very much a dehumanising experience. I attend Andy’s Man Club on a fortnightly basis to discuss my feelings and listen to other men doing the same in a mental health safe space. For women we signpost to Women’s Wellbeing Club as an equivalent.
  • Set aside your workspace – if you can make sure that your workspace is for work only, keep the door shut and talk to other inhabitants that live with you to set boundaries. This minimises the disruption and keeps your mind focused on work.
  • Maintain a line between work and home – on meetings ensure that you use a background, and also use a headset to ensure the conversation is kept private. At the end of the day shut down laptops & phones and then shut the door. You are done, you are human and it’s time to rest. Stick to set working hours and ensure you are setting time aside for self-care and rest. It’s not a guilty pleasure, procrastination or anything else. You need this time to reset.
  • Write your tasklist – write down everything you need to get done in a day. Prioritise the important things you need to do, delegate the tasks that you can to share the workload and plot the tasks that can wait for days when the load is lighter. Ensure that you ask for a deadline from colleagues and remember that “no” is not a bad word; it’s actually a good one! If there’s too much to handle you need to say it!
  • Exercise – get out the house daily for exercise whether that just be for a walk or for something more strenuous like a run. I’m indoor swimming now which helps.
  • Check in with Colleagues – keep communication constant even if that only starts with “Hello” on a morning and “Goodnight” in your team channel. Do share any big problems, unusual discoveries or even funny incidents you’ve had. This way you aren’t being forgotten about.
  • Journal – write down thoughts and feelings onto a suitable medium and keep a track of any persistent thought patterns. If you do identity anything that’s making you feel down make sure to act on it whether that being by raising it with your team, a manager or taking action yourself.
  • Get out for a day – contradicting a few points above but I’ve found it helpful to work from a coffee shop 1 day a week. I do have to provide mobile internet for security purposes but I’ve found that this breaks up the week and gives me something to look forward to

Please put a comment below to share your tips or just check in if you’re having a bad day. I’d love to hear from you.