Often my overflowing inbox is where I find potential podcast guests; but today the focus is on an interesting article I was sent by Danielle Strouther.
While I am going to be talking about working from home from my opinion, most of the references I will be making will be to Danielle's article and to some relevant signposting I have found helpful.
You can read Danielle's full article here.
I have spoken already about my adjustment to working from home, that it was great at first, then became harder as lockdown eased, and now is in a state of readjustment and consideration as I/ we look forward to the rest of 2020 and beyond. Who loves stats? Well there were some that stood out for me in Danielle's article which reported on feedback from 448 workers.
- 93.3% of people can work as normal from home - 83.5% of people enjoy working at home - 67.6% more productive when working at home - 43.1% of people missing socialising in the office - 60% of people would work at home if they had the option
There seems to be more acceptance of home working now, and being honest I am not sure there is much more in terms of tools/ resources than there was before. Instead it's our approach to home working that changed.
The general points the survey and article seemed (to me) to be driving at are; this change came suddenly, and without planning many adapted to new ways of working quickly and effectively. There is now a viable option, a way of working that seemed unimaginable before. Not surprisingly, many are in no hurry to give up this new way of working.
Here is an exclusive quote from Dr Daniel Weatley regarding the findings. "The positive response of workers and employers to the rapid expansion of remote working reinforces the mutual benefits which can be realised from working at home with respect to productivity, job satisfaction and work-life balance. Nevertheless work does, and should, continue to occur outside of the home. Recent changes in the ways in which we work are highlighting the importance of individual choice regarding the timing and location of work, and continues to show the value, to worker well-being in particular, of physically connecting with others (colleagues and clients) in the workplace even where we may face restrictions due to social distancing and/or other measures. The future of work is flexibility, with the greatest benefits to be obtained from the successful blending of remote and workplace-based working routines within an organizational strategy and culture that promotes and supports this." Dr Weatley mentions something here I think could be essential. That is "individual choice". While some jobs maybe possible remotely, care and attention needs to be given, and discussed, as to what is best for the individual. Not everyone will want or be able to work remotely. We don't all live in strong broadband neighbourhoods, with peaceful surrounding, a garden to take our lunch in, and with the support of those we live with.
There is of course also the mental health aspect to consider when home working. Which Danielle's article mentions via discussion with Psychotherapist Paul Ansorge, who says "mental health should never be thought of as a single issue matter. It's an immensely complex and vast subject".
There has been a range of support for home working from mental health charities and projects, including national mental health charity Mind. Who have provided support such as:
We are becoming more supported, facilitated and robust with our home working. As support grows, so does our confidence with working in this way. This likely in part means we are just not in a rush to return to the workplace. In May there was an article stating we would be home working for a year (I'm sure there's lots more, just this is the one that I saw on my Facebook feed). No one knows how long the current covid situation will last. But, while the covid virus was the cause of much home working starting, any decrease in infection/ transmission should only be part of the reason to return to workplaces.
The graphic from Danielle's article provides a brief insight to what may very well be a more widely held view. That being, many don't want to return to the workplace as it was.
Much like the global changes we have seen on high streets, with coffee shops and leisure spaces replacing retail shops. I do wonder if we will see many offices close in favour of home/ remote working and a greater focus being put on storage centres and hireable meeting/ conference spaces.
From the graphic, and my experience, I think the main thing I miss from office working is the social aspect. But that doesn't seem to me to be a good enough reason for a workplace to pay for buildings and offices all the time. Particularly if the workplace is smaller and or just managing their running costs.
Personally, I really like the idea of remote working, because it suits my current job and I think can lead to some great use of technology and innovation in working styles and delivery. But I understand it isn't a viable option for everyone, and even if I like me you're in favour. Real thought does need to be given to individual and team wellbeing.
Whatever happens I think it is important to consider that your working environment will affect your mental health, be that positively or negatively. Hopefully articles like Danielle's (and others), along with resources from experts and professionals support us all to take advantage of this horrid situation; and support us to develop our own best ways of working. Be that in the office, shop, warehouse, studio, at home or a remote work place.
One suggestion... recommendation I will leave you with is; complete a Wellness Action Plan. Every workplace should have them, though many don't. You can find a guide here from the Mental Health at Work project. It encourages you, and you Manager, to think about what works for you, any struggles or trigger you may have and how you would like to be supported. It is a great tool, and prompts some really important conversations.
Please check out Danielle's article (here) if you'd like to read more. Also do check the Mind and Mental Health at Work links, I have already found these super useful myself.