This article will be the first a three-part series looking from different perspectives at how working from home benefits business. My goal will be to present the benefits that employees, employers, and customers can realise by working from home.
In this first article, I will look at this topic from the perspective of the employee. With the vast majority of professionals now working from home, it can be rather easy for this to be viewed from a pessimistic perspective. Numerous articles point to business disruption and employees having to find places in their homes to conduct business. While these facts cannot be disputed, what is often missed is the benefit that is afforded to employees while working from home.
While having a home office is new for many, it is not a new idea. According to a CNBC article published in 2018, almost 70% of people working globally worked remotely at least once per week. Clearly, these are different circumstances, however having had a home office for the last fifteen years, I can speak to the benefits that can be realised when employees work from home.
You Can Accomplish More in Less Time
We’ve all heard the old adage of “work smarter, not harder”. While this is something we should all look to apply, working at home does indeed provide the opportunity to put this into practice.
How? By aligning with our ultradian rhythms – let me explain without getting too scientific. All of us have ultradian rhythms, both when we are awake and when we are asleep, and they correspond to the “ebb and flow of our body’s energy.”
When we are awake, these rhythms run in cycles that enable us to work at peak mental capacity for 90-120 minutes. After this time, our ability to work at peak capacity begins to decline and our brains and bodies need a break to refresh. This period of refreshment is brief, 15-30 minutes, but it is enough to allow your brain to reset so you can then give the best energy to the next task at hand.
While in an office, it is harder to align your day around your rhythms due to co-workers and unwanted distractions. However, while at home, you can more easily structure your day to these rhythms and can accomplish more, with better quality, in less time.
I have applied this approach to my days and can assure you that you will find great benefit and will indeed be working smarter not harder.
When you work from home, your commute is just a few steps away, which also allows for maximising time. Rather than spend this time doing more work, use it to connect with your family or invest it in learning something new. Click To Tweet
In the late 90’s I had a job that was 40 kilometres from my house. Overall, if I left at the right times, the commute was rather smooth and painless. If however, I missed that fifteen-minute window I was all but assured at least a one-hour commute each way.
Over here in the UK, sources put the average London commute at anywhere from 54 to 74 minutes; UK workers on average spend 221 hours a year going to and from work. While for many their commute is a time to get caught up on audiobooks and podcasts, I have yet to meet anyone who says they truly enjoy their long work commute.
Clearly, when you work from home, your commute is just a few steps away which also allows for maximising time. Rather than spend this newfound time just doing more work, use it to connect with your family, invest it in learning something new whether it is work-related or simply as a way to increase your learning. Perhaps using that additional time can be used to establish a healthier sleep pattern which has numerous benefits.
However you choose to spend this time that would otherwise be spent in a car or public transportation, use it wisely and be thankful for it. The one thing we cannot manufacture is time.
A Reduction in Personal Expenses
Whether your typical transportation is via your own personal vehicle or public transportation, the reality is when you are working from home, you will not be spending money on a ticket or petrol, which can lead to a significant reduction in costs.
Add in the pounds spent on stops for coffee on the morning commute and lunch with office mates throughout the week, and you will find that this savings increases substantially.
You Choose What Works for You
Early on in my career, I worked for a software company where office design was completely lacking. Nothing in the office seemed to flow, the chairs were uncomfortable, the lighting was overpowering and it was clear that ergonomics was not high on the priority list.
When you are working from home, you get to design a setup that works best for you and will make you the most productive. There are times, if the weather is pleasant, I will move outside to do some writing or take a call. I have a habit of putting my feet up on my desk when taking a call or pacing back and forth when thinking through an issue. I can do this as it is my space, my office and I have designed it to account for what allows me to give the best to my work.
I would encourage you to do the same with your work at home space. Find what works for you as there will be no restrictions on what design you decide provides the optimal work environment.
Long Term Benefits
As I noted in my last post, nobody knows when we will return to normal and there is no guarantee that we will return to what we once knew. While moving from an office to home is certainly an adjustment, you and your employer may find that it is the way of the future.
Take note of the benefits and do all you can to maximise them. In the meantime, think through some of the benefits you have already realised by working from home and do all you can to think about the positive aspects versus the negative as a positive mindset does change your perspective.
Look out for new episodes in this series over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, for more advice and information about remote working, check out the Remote Working Resources Hub.
Originally published Apr 28, 2020, updated Mar 09, 2021