The many work from home benefits available far outweigh the challenges of keeping productive in an open-plan office.
Working from home (and remote working) is fast becoming the "new normal" for traditionally office-based work. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to adapt quickly and develop work from home policies that they may have been reluctant to tackle in the past. Because of this, even as we start to reopen in the next few months our ways of working are unlikely to simply go back to the way they were, and many people will continue to work from home as long as they're able. For those questioning whether they'd like to return to the office or not, these are our top 10 work from home benefits.
What can you do with an extra two hours in your day? For workers in major cities, commuting to an office likely takes at minimum an hour each way. Working from home means no traffic jams, no packing yourself onto a crowded train, and no skimming through your emails on your phone to kickstart your day. Instead, you can use your commute time to exercise, make a great breakfast, and log on to your workspace refreshed and ready to focus. And when you're ready to end the day you can switch off and get straight to your hobbies, time with family and general unwinding - without the stress of fighting thousands of other people to get home.
Just eliminating the commute already reduces your stress levels as you start and end your day. But the office environment itself can be a stressful place, especially when it comes to managing relationships and office politics. Being able to step away from that and create a workspace that suits your ways of working has a massive benefit. On top of this, working from home gives you the space to cook healthy meals at a time that suits you - rather than grabbing a rushed takeaway from wherever's nearest and eating at your desk.
Plenty of remote work guides warn that it's difficult to switch off from the job when your workspace is part of your home, and that's definitely something to look out for. But the flipside is that you have far more flexibility in your schedule. When you need to run a quick errand or schedule a personal appointment, there's no need to take a half day or worry about being eyeballed for taking a long lunch. You can build your work life around your personal life and getter a better balance of both.
Struggling to get into a productive work from home routine? We've got 5 tips to make it work.
According to a Global Worplace Analytics survey, 36% of respondents would rather work from home than take a pay rise. Between the costs of travel, lunch and (if you're like me) multiple coffees a day, working from home can have a surprisingly positive effect on your savings account. You'll also often be reimbursed by your employer for home office costs like your phone and hardware.
How often have you sat down at your desk, put on your headphones and started digging into a complex task, only to be interrupted by a colleague's question? It can take 15-20 minutes to really get into the zone with a new challenge, and every interruption resets that clock. When remote working you get to choose to switch off all distractions, put on your favourite tunes and get stuck in to your project without unnecessary disruptions.
More time to focus means you're able to get your work done more quickly than if you were in the office. More importantly it means the quality of your work is improved. Big businesses have found that remote workers are as much as 40% more productive when they're working from home - better for your personal development and for the company's progress.
Improved writing and communication skills are an often overlooked work from home benefit, and it's down to the fundamental difference in how we relate to our colleagues when we're remote. Everyone is much more reliant on written updates when they're not able to pop over to someone's desk for a chat, and doing that writing forces you to consider the real value of the information you're presenting. Written updates also replace a lot of useless "meetings that could've been emails", and even online meetings are easier to manage with chat and filesharing.
Similarly to improved communication, when you're not able to turn to a teammate two desks over to ask for their help, you're forced to work more independently and search for solutions yourself. Just that process leads to better retention of your new skills, and you're developing a self-sufficient approach to work that sets you up for better personal development.
So much of your career is limited by geography. In the past, if you weren't already based in one of the big hubs for your industry, you were either forced to move or to look for jobs in other sectors. As more companies implement wider work from home schemes it opens up the talent pool - both for companies to hire the best talent in their field, regardless of their location, and for talented employees to seek out the best employers without having to move cities.
This work from home benefit is more for companies themselves, as reduced stress levels and a better work life balance already reduces sick leave. As an employee you also generally recover quicker, don't have to worry about being contagious in the office, and can still check in while taking proper time to rest.
If you ask me, the work from home benefits available far outweigh the challenges of keeping productive in an open-plan office. If you'd like to learn more about how to set up a remote working schedule, what to include in a work from home policy and how to manage remote teams, head over to our Essential Guide to Remote Work.