How we experienced
working from home
and how the future will look like
︎︎︎MIRTE WINTERS / CRISIS
What used to be a free choice for employers and employees is now imposed by the current conditions in most sectors. Do we like to work from home? What are we missing? What insights have we gained and how do we see our future?
I have experienced working from home as very difficult because it constantly appeals to your discipline.
You have to. You are still supposed to meet your deadlines, make hours, and actively participate. What I miss most is social contact; you are constantly in your bubble. I also experience that I am quickly distracted and still looking for the right relationship between work and private life. It also has its positive sides, such as that we have more time for self-development, no traveling time, and more spare time because we can do some laundry in between.
The struggleIt is difficult to have a particular opinion about working at home. Everyone experiences the current situation differently. There is no universal approach to it. An approach has to be situational and accommodate individual needs. Some people are more flexible in their working hours, while others suffer from this flexibility. Some employees find that their productivity is higher because they are less distracted at home, while others indicate that there are more distractions at home - and this also applies to people without children. There are consequences of working from home; one has an increased stress level, is almost burn-out and according to data from the GGZ, the emotional and mental burden is high in the Netherlands. Almost half (48%) of homeworkers are worried about their health, 39% about their financial situation, and 20% about keeping their job.
What has been said in the past?“Working from home is a strategic move, not just a tactical one that saves money,” said Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics. “A lot of it comes down to trust. Do you trust your people?” Companies large and small have been trying for decades to make homeworking work. As long ago as 1985, the mainstream media were using phrases like “the growing telecommuting movement.” Marissa Mayer, the chief executive of Yahoo, created a furor when she forced employees back into offices in 2013. “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings,” a company memo explained.
But how does it work in our heads?Our brains are not made to sit still for an entire day. Erik Scherder, a Dutch professor of neuropsychology, explains the advantages of taking a walk in a short video: “Because of the ignorance of the virus, we (un)consciously experience more tension and stress. We are constantly busy processing the gloomy and negative messages in our heads. The place where this comes in first is the brain stem and this is the point where our heart, breathing, and blood pressure are. It is precisely by moving again that you get a better grip on things”. Together with the brain foundation, he has released an app for this: Ommetje. With this app, you are ‘pushed’ every day to walk for half an hour. Walking ensures that you can process all messages better in your frontal cortex, which reduces the pressure of your brain stem and improves your immune system. This is because you create benign cells while walking; also called natural killers.
The Knowledge Institute for Mobility Policy (KIM) has researched how employees have experienced working from home, between 55 and 70 percent of them say that they liked it. Moreover, about 40 to 60% expect that it will remain, even when the corona crisis is done, this will scale down to 1-3 days a week. So it will never become the norm. Many large companies such as Unilever and Achmea, for example, have tackled the corona crisis and working from home with both hands and say that a full week’s work in the office will no longer be the norm because new, more effective ways of working online have been found. It is becoming part of the normal working week and offices are being used more like ‘clubhouses’.
“Our offices will become more like clubhouses”
Tips to stay creative / motivated / efficient- Look for other places than your home to work, think of the library (this is nice and quiet) or a coffee shop, here you have often nice work music and some activity around you.
- Find out what works best for you; a tight planning or, on the contrary, global planning.
- In between, try a walk every day.
- Organise your time superefficiently: The most important thing is to finish in the morning, at 11 o’clock you open your mail, at most 1 hour after which you open your mail again at 4 o’clock. This is because if we spend the whole day sending our mails to the answers are no longer time for our work.
Given our previous knowledge, there is not a very good chance that we will continue to work massively at home after the pandemic. On the other hand, the combination of working from home and in the office became more likely. We are moving towards a more flexible way of working, especially in places where it was once impossible to work from home. Efficiency will play an important role in this. For example, fewer travel times, which means that meetings can also be attended online, which is different from people taking the plane to go to a meeting by car to the office.