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Is the office 9-5 truly dead? A personal account of working fully remote from home

Flexible working has always been high on many of our candidate’s list of preferences, however in recent years it is definitely become more of an assumption or even a requirement that firms will provide at least some time working from home. The balance seems to have settled with three days in the office and two at home, although some firms do offer more flexibility based on candidate needs whilst others sadly are still more restrictive.

At Fellows and Associates we offer 100% home working, which has allowed us to maintain staff retention when circumstances meant constant presence in

the office was not feasible, recruit fantastic talent from beyond the physical distance from the office, and be available for meetings more frequently with our clients and candidates, especially those based overseas. With this in mind we thought we’d give a personal view of life working from home and what we feel are the positives (and negatives) compared to the office.

Syncing with Household Chores

Working from home can allow for those with busy schedules to fit in household tasks that would normally have to wait until the evening/weekend, such as laundry or being available for deliveries. Personal errands like, walking the dog, going to the dentist or the school run can be slotted in around work commitments, assuming that contracted hours are still being fulfilled.

Lunch Break

Some office kitchens (if any are provided) can pose restrictions in terms of space, storage and preparation, risking lunch breaks to become monotonous. When working from home you are able to make full use of your own cooking facilities and add some variety to your diet. In addition to this, in the safety of your home you’re not exposed to your colleague’s love of strong-smelling foods like last night’s leftover curry.

Distraction, Distraction, Distraction?

Having the opportunity to develop your own working environment free from outside influence can help increase concentration and productivity. Colleagues and general office activity taking your attention away from the task at hand can be refreshing to an extent, but constant noise and distraction can be detrimental for some. Whereas for others, the opportunity to utilise those around them as a sounding board for projects and collaborate on issues you might find your stuck on can be hugely beneficial. However, working from home comes with its own distractions. Whether it be the temptation to prioritise non work-related tasks, door-to-door callers, or the washing machine choosing a spin cycle whilst on a video call.

Mental Health Awareness

Working alone from home can mean feelings of loneliness may set in, highlighting the importance of staying connected to your colleagues virtually throughout your working day and ensuring you prioritise your mental health whilst working. On the other hand, you may be at your happiest when removed from a potentially toxic office working environment – colleagues who you may not gel with or agree with their working style, as well as hovering bosses who might not allow you to manage your own schedule or entrust you to complete your work independently. Working from home allows you to take back control of your day, which for some is a fantastic relief if feeling stifled in the office.

No More Commute

When working from home the distance you need to travel to start your working day is dramatically reduced and in most cases is simply from the bedroom to the kitchen, living room, or home office. The less time spent travelling can be put to better use in terms of work productivity, as well as less chance of stress (whilst stuck in traffic for example) and accompanying reduced travel costs. It also opens up more time in the day to schedule meetings, although it is still important to ensure you are sticking to a work schedule. Just because you are available from 8am until 8pm every day doesn’t mean you should be (unless you’re being compensated for it of course).

The lack of commute also means you are able to live anywhere, you no longer have restrictions on location and could be in any country (assuming the time zones don’t hinder your working capability). The dream of the house in the country, working from your favourite local coffee shop, or the even more extreme move abroad can now become a reality.

If you do not need to leave the house for work there is, however, the risk for you to become demotivated having an affect on your physical and mental health. There isn’t the excuse to go to the gym if you’re no longer driving past on the way home, or motivation to go for a walk at lunchtime if you’re able to watch the latest episode of that Netflix series instead.

Blurring the Divide between Work and Home

There is a risk of the distinction between home and working life becoming blurred, making it important to ensure you make the effort to keep a clear divide. Lack of space can prove it difficult for some to find an area purely dedicated to an office set-up, meaning added stress due to intruding equipment and less opportunity to fully switch off after a day’s work. On the contrary however, working in your own familiar surroundings may increase feelings of ease and, in turn, increase confidence, happiness, and (potentially) productivity. Seemingly little things like the power to adjust the temperature of the room and the background music/ambience can really have a big impact.

Those in shared living may face confidentiality issues if dealing with sensitive material as part of their work. The increased energy costs associated with staying at home – lighting, heating, computer equipment, and being at the mercy of domestic Internet signal (especially if you live outside of a built-up area) can all play into the hands of preferring working in an office, rather than at home.

It is evident that there are pros and cons for both working from home and in the office, and it is very much down to the individual’s preferences, working style, and stage in their career. It is important then for firms to recognise that and allow for flexibility where possible. 5 days in the office for all, it can be agreed, is no longer a reality, but an equal split with the possibility for a little more/less is definitely closer to today’s norm.

Not sure you’re getting what you should? If you want to find out more about which firms offer what for flexible working then get in touch with us at [email protected] or call +44207 903 5019.

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