Reflections on Working from Home

Apr 19, 2020 | Innovation

Over the past few years, I’ve spent most of my time working remotely either on the road traveling to properties or out of my apartment. I’ve created an environment and workflow that’s conducive to remote work and I utilize technology to communicate seamlessly with the rest of my team.

I’ve enjoyed the benefits of working from home; no commute, an asynchronous schedule, and the ability to hang with my daughter throughout the day. For me, remote work was a strategic choice and a luxury afforded to me.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all teams to adopt a remote working environment and scramble to implement systems to manage a distributed workforce. It was unexpected and unplanned for.

On the one hand, it’s a great work from home experiment and will compel teams to embrace remote work. On the other, it’s a terrible first impression of working from home. Parents are forced to deal with kids, dogs, and the distractions of the home.

Either way, this experience will accelerate the work from home trend and lead many companies to adopt some sort of work from home strategy. 

Here are some of my reflections on working from home;

Asynchronous schedule; I enjoy the ability to work out during the day, read, walk the dog, or spend time with my daughter. For me, work has never been a 9-5 endeavor. And why should it be? I tend to work best in the morning, then I drag in the afternoon. If I take an hour and go for a walk with the dog, I come back re-energized. I often work well late at night when the emails stop coming in.

Workers don’t control the office; at home, my office is set up just the way I like it. The desk, chair, ambiance, temperature, scent etc. are all dictated by me. In a conventional office all of that, and more, is out of my control.

It’s easier to get by not doing work in an office; in an office if you show up, dress nice, and ask questions, it’s easy to hide. When working remotely, you can’t hide. Your output is measured, and it forces you to work harder and smarter.

Decisions can take longer but they’re often better; while fewer meetings is undoubtedly a good thing, one of the drawbacks of fewer meetings is that decisions take longer to make. They typically require a lengthy email chain and several calls. However, additional time and analysis lead to more thoughtful decisions.     

The ability to write well is important; when communication shifts from in-person to email, the ability to synthesize your thoughts in writing becomes incredibly important. This also creates a better environment for introverts who typically don’t speak up during meetings but are able to share their opinions in writing.

With the majority of us working from home for the past 6 weeks, there’s no doubt that we can be productive and remain motivated, all while also staying connected as a team.

In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink affirms that motivation comes from three things; autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Autonomy is the desire to direct our own lives. Mastery is the desire to get better at something that matters to us. Purpose is the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

This can all be achieved while working remotely.

I don’t believe that the office is dead and post-coronavirus that we’re all going to be working from home. However, the way we work will be forever altered. Many companies will adopt and full or partial work from home strategy.

Cramped open floorplans will become a thing of the past, everyone’s temperature will be taken as they enter and leave office buildings, and meeting sizes will be limited.

Humans change and adapt. Last night we watched the Rolling Stones play ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ while in quarantine.