Working from home

It’s all over the news now that companies do not expect to return to the daily 9-to-5 commuter drudgery.

It will be better for the environment and yes, also better for the work/life balance.

I believe that if you see work as something that needs to be separated from life instead of something that is part of life, work is likely to be experienced as stressful.

As someone who’s been working from home for over twenty years, I know both the benefits and the downsides of working from home.

You can do laundry while you’re working. It’s not detrimental to work.

You can take a break and go for a walk, have lunch when you need it or want it instead of when it is scheduled (depending on what work you do).

Children or pets can come bursting in with a problem and can be a major distraction, though. It is important to arrange the best working conditions for you – that suit YOU – and declare boundaries that your friends and family members may have to learn to respect.

If you work from home, others may be quick to assume that you are “free” if they spot you outside (also if you occasionally work in your garden). Some neighbours may want to chat with you on occasion, not realising that you have a deadline in an hour. Think about what you are going to say to them that works but does not make them feel pushed away. Maybe you can talk with them about this in advance, even.

If you or your kid needs to see a doctor or dentist, you won’t need to travel to work, then travel to (pick up your kid and) see the practice, travel back to work again. It will become much easier to fit this kind of activity into your life.

You also, however, need the right equipment and that goes beyond the company laptop. The right artificial lighting, the right chair as well as the right desk/chair combination if you work at a desk are important.

So is an assessment of what natural light coming through the window – including sunshine – is going to do to you.

You may have the perfect spot, but before you end up with a headache from squinting because the sunshine’s been blessing you, make sure you have a screen at hand that you can place on the windowsill to stop the light from falling into your eyes or your screen. Even a dissembled cardboard box (which you can paint) may do the trick. It does not have to cost you tons of money.

If you are one of those people who like having people around them all the time and you don’t like working from home much for that reason, well, find yourself a recording of office noise or restaurant noise (I have such a recording) that you play in a loop to make you feel that you are surrounded by people. You can even find these kind of sounds on YouTube.


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