Major Companies Are Moving to Permanent WFH Positions
While it may seem like the concept of working from home or working remotely is a modern idea enabled by the rapid advancement of technology, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Historically speaking, for millennia the majority of labor done by humans had taken place in their homes, be they communal or personal.
More centralization of the state apparatus, such as public schools and a growing bureaucratic sector, and eventually the Industrial Revolution and mass manufacturing were the basis for the rise of the cramped office spaces as we know them today. And now, with the recent developments on the global scale, major companies around the world are adopting WFH policies.
The Reasons Behind The Shift to Remote Positions
Two factors have played a pivotal role in major companies starting to rethink the way they operate: the rapid advance of technology, primarily information technologies, and the current global hazard of the pandemic.
The advancement of technology is the enabler of this change – a worker often just needs a PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone and access to the internet to be productive. All of these devices are portable and do not require a stationary office building to use, and with the ease of communication team coordination and regular check-ups from management are as easy as ever.
In the last few decades, there has been an increase in workers desiring to work from home – long commutes are avoided, time management is easier, flexible working hours are a possibility, but the main catalyst was the global pandemic. Social distancing is quickly becoming the norm, and while theoretically possible in physical offices, it is highly impractical and more often than not ineffective.
If possible, it is easier to facilitate workers to set up home offices and provide them with the appropriate tools. Many smaller companies have started focusing on enabling the labor force to be just as effective from their home offices and providing their services to other companies.
While tech companies have been leading the charge in permanently changing the system from office work to work-from-home, many others are following suit. The CEO of Twitter and Square, Jack Dorsey, has announced that his employees may start working from home permanently. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has made a similar announcement. The global freelancing company Upwork, which already had a strong foundation for the work-from-home framework, has said that they are embracing a “remote-first” model.
Major companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, PayPal, and JPMorgan haven’t fully shifted to the new model, but have substantially extended their work-from-home options. It is obvious that a major shift has happened, and it seems like work-from-home for nonessential positions may become the new norm.
While the new model is still in its infancy, there is already proof that productivity doesn’t suffer and many polls show that a majority of employees prefer this type of work, even without the current health hazards associated with large groups of people working in the same physical space. No longer is it a detriment for candidates to request work-from-home positions.
Simple and practical tips for working from home
Work-from-home en masse is new grounds even for large companies, so an initial adjustment period to set up appropriate home offices will be required, but here are some simple tips that you can do yourself to remain productive and raise your chance of employment.
Get a good chair. It may seem a simple thing, but it is fundamental. Spending long hours in a sitting position can be a challenge, and without a comfortable chair, more breaks are needed. More breaks away from the workstation mean more breaks in concentration. You will be surprised by how much more effective you are when working from a good chair. Also, the long term effects of bad posture caused by a bad sitting position are undeniable. Save yourself unnecessary future health problems and get that quality chair.
Improve your internet connection. A slow or choppy internet connection can make your day hell. Whether you are on a conference call and constantly losing signal, or having to wait those extra 10 seconds to open a page while doing research, this puts a significant strain on your work. The time loss itself is a minor obstacle, but the annoyance that comes with it can easily put you out and force you to refocus your thoughts again and again.
Optimize your home office. Research has shown that people subconsciously react to their immediate surroundings, and you will be spending a lot of time here, so make the effort to keep your workspace suitable for your needs and personality. Certain colors make people agitated, while others have a calming effect. Find out what works for you and, if possible, integrate the appropriate color scheme. It doesn’t have to be a big project, like painting walls – a new curtain, rug, or even a mouse pad will do the trick.
Keep it tidy. Messy rooms have a subliminal negative effect on the psyche, so remove all the unnecessary clutter that was hoarded over time and clean the room every few days, but also try to keep it homey. Overly sanitized spaces are not comfortable to spend long stretches of time in.
Advantages of working from home
Customized work hours. One major advantage of working from home are the flexible working hours. If the work is project-based, your time and schedule can be made to accommodate when you are most productive. Instead of working the standard 9-to-5, you may be most productive in the early morning and late afternoon.
Start working with your morning coffee, have an early lunch and take a nap, and continue working with your afternoon tea. Change it up until you find what suits you best. Even if you have fixed working hours, it is still easier to take a break, go for a five-minute stroll to clear your head, and then go back to work.
No dress code. While some companies may be more lax in how they enforce their dress codes, not a lot of people wish to sit in stuffy office clothes for eight hours or more. If you have a video conference, simply put on a dress shirt, while remaining in your comfortable shorts or sweatpants.
No commuting. In urban areas commuting can easily eat up more than two hours per day, not to mention that public transport is often unreliable, and more likely than not uncomfortable. The new commute is from your bed to the computer.
Saving money. Be it the money you spend on the aforementioned commute, lunch at a cafeteria or bistro, or a simple coffee – it adds up. Working from home allows you to cut all of these costs by a significant margin.
No distractions. Do you like it a few degrees cooler, while your co-worker likes it a bit warmer? Is this the third time that you have stealthily attempted to lower the AC? While it may seem like a small thing, after long hours spent working any small distraction can make you lose concentration, and then you are back at square one. Well, no more of that. You are not in the mood for small talk, but don’t want to seem rude so continue listening politely? No more of that, either.
Customized workspace. Concentration comes and goes, but customizing your environment can help you get into the desired headspace more quickly and easily. Instead of pushing through the low concentration patches and wasting your willpower that way, you may find yourself much more effective in a space you are comfortable in. This goes double for introverts.
Challenges of working from home
Socializing. A major disadvantage of work-from-home is the lack of socializing. While you may not prefer to spend your working hours chatting endlessly about uninteresting topics, it often provides a short respite and welcome distraction from the work you are doing; when it is gone you may come to realize that you actually miss it.
Team building is an important aspect of working in small or large groups, and without face-to-face communication, it is harder to establish the social bond that otherwise comes naturally. For team members to be complementary to one another and support each other, that bond must exist. Group outings serve this purpose. Acquiring this bond is harder when working from home. Extroverts may find the work-from-home model especially challenging and will need to adjust their habits.
Routines. Office work, while stressful, provides a certain scheme and routine to stick to, which helps when self-motivation is lacking. Unorganized persons may have a hard time adjusting to the new format, and will require a few weeks extra to find out what suits them best and how to be as productive as they were before.
Direct lines of communication. If you are on a tight schedule and run into a problem, and management is not answering your calls or Slack messages, it can easily throw you off. In an office setting, there is usually a way to contact management directly, even if it means knocking on their office door. In work-from-home situations, this is not a possibility, and waiting is the only option.
Motivation. In a work-from-home setting, a person can easily feel invisible and isolated, and that can lead to a loss of motivation. Extra effort must be taken to keep in touch with co-workers, employers, and employees.
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