What are the perils of working from home?
Many of us have dreamt of this moment. No commuting. You can work in your PJs. Watch daytime TV. Do a spot of gardening. Eat your lunch on the sofa. And still get all your work done. Yes… it should be heaven.
Instead, your internet speed is something out of the dark ages – remember the days of dial-up modems?
With everyone online, all-the-time, forget video conferencing with the office… buffering is back!
This is just one of the stresses and strains of self-isolation, which are compounding the crippling anxiety of financial fears and job insecurity.
With millions of people worldwide being forced to WFH, many are also being locked up 24/7 with their partners/families… and the two are just not compatible.
WFH is fine, when it’s just you. Trying to do it whilst also looking after children, foraging for those elusive items such as toilet rolls, while remaining well and healthy, checking in on loved ones, and keeping the boss happy, is virtually impossible.
Aside from slow internet speeds, there are just too many distractions.
Space invaders: keep them out
Even if you don’t have children fighting over food or bellowing into their headsets (why do they have to shout as they game?), there will be plenty of your neighbours whose offspring are going stir crazy.
A kick around in the garden sounds like they are playing a real-life game of Fortnight rather than football particularly when it is magnified a dozen times (who knew there were so many children living so close?).
Along with the continuous squeals from trampolines and parents shouting in frustration ‘stop fighting’, you will need more than noise-cancelling headphones.
Finally, there are the space squabbles.
You like working from the dining table or breakfast bar? It’s close to the coffee machine and normally quite peaceful. However, every inch seems to be covered with unfinished homework, half-built Lego sets and crayons and paints. It’s great that the kids want to be creative, but you need peace and quiet. You certainly don’t want someone to scribble a picture of a rainbow over your end-of-year report.
You need boundaries
So, it’s time for some rules. The sooner you set these the better – before everyone else has got set in the new routine.
- Set your own ‘office hours’: Tell everyone “I’m going to work”. This will put you in the right mindset – and also give you some demarcation. When you finish for the day, you want to be able to “leave” the office, shut down your laptop, and put work out of sight, and out of mind. Also, it should signal to your partner that just because you are at home, now is not the time to mow the lawn, put up a shelf, or chat endlessly.
- Limit screen time: Keep the rest of the household’s use of the internet to a minimum during your critical working hours. It will be good for them!
- Ask for some quiet time during the day: Even if you’ve shut the office door, you will probably find the household noise a distraction. If you need to concentrate or make calls, you cannot have a blaring TV or toddler tantrums in the background, so try to set a few hours a day when the house is quieter.
- Claim some space: In my household there is a current battle over the best office chair – and who gets the biggest desk. So, claim your own home office space (even if it is in the corner of the bedroom) and make it as work-friendly as possible: this might be your workplace for several months.
- Find a lockable cupboard: Your printer paper will vanish, the family will use up all your printer ink, you will find someone “gaming” on your office laptop – or worse spilling a soda into your computer. Keep work tech for work only.
- Invest in some protection: Make sure your anti-virus is up-to-date and all of your online devices are secure. Working from home might be designed to protect you from the coronavirus – but what about computer viruses.
But remember, it’s not forever
At some point people will return to work, schools, colleges and universities will open their doors and your home will no longer be for work, rest and play.
So try not to stress too much about poor internet speeds, a lack of space (both headspace and physical space) and too many competing demands.
You may never get an opportunity to spend so much time with the ones you love – even if, right now, you are hating being with them day and night. So try to enjoy WFH.
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