Working From Home vs. Back to The Office

In March 2020, our lives changed forever…

March 2020, when Boris Johnson told us all to stay home, brought with it a sudden shift from office life to life working from home. Consequently, I found myself working from home in my un-decorated spare bedroom with cardboard boxes I was meaning to unpack, bags of clothes I had to take to the charity and yesterday’s laundry drying on the airer.

An unfamiliar ringtone started to come out of my machine, realising it was a sound I’d grown to recognise very well, of a client wanting a quick video call. Setting up my new workspace and trying not to get distracted by my new, unfamiliar surroundings was rather strange and at times a little intrusive!

Bridget Jones Diary

But I shouldn’t complain

There are people out there who have lost loved ones to the pandemic, some have lost their livelihoods and are not sure where their next meal is coming from. Home schooling became the new torment for working parents with an added hour of Joe Wicks blasting out of the TV every morning in a desperate bid to try and wear the kids out and get something done.

Bitter jealousy came from my friends and family who couldn’t work from home and had no choice but to risk their lives and make the journey to their place of work. Supermarket workers became important key workers overnight, frowning at me as I’m shuffled around Tesco the wrong way in a one-way system with a masked red face.

To be completely honest, I’m now sitting here writing this blog in my comfy pants, slippers on, drinking my own coffee. I’m listening to my own radio station, happily working away while the Amazon driver delivers more purchases that’ll I’ll never use or wear.

Legally Blonde

My family are well fed, Bruce the dog is ecstatic with company all day and the house is sparkling clean – working from home has provided that little extra time needed, not only to throw some meat and veggies into the slow cooker but also to clear the burgeoning laundry basket that would still be overflowing if I was to make the 50 minute, one way, journey in to the office. 

No more rush hour & fighting for parking spaces with colleagues

Gone are the days of the last-minute morning rush to beat heavy traffic, with several bouts of road rage on the way in. No more panic, when remembering that I didn’t fill up with fuel last week so I’m running on good graces and wishes with no time to stop. No fighting for a decent parking space with colleagues, because they are all at home too, in their comfy pants.

Not to mention the environmental impact remote working has had on the planet. Venice canals run clear as dolphins are spotted in Italy’s waterways. Wild animals ventured into locked down cities. The Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg are over the moon!

Yes, it’s been a huge culture transformation for us all, not just the office workers of the world.

Are we actually more productive when working from home or just happier?

I spoke to a client last week who wholeheartedly says yes, he is much more productive working from home as there are less distractions than at the office and “highly suggesting that” employees go back to the office will be a catastrophic backwards move in this new, perhaps enjoyed, culture shift for the masses.

In another Zoom meeting a client said ‘Finally, we are being trusted by the Managers to work from home.’

Working 9-5

As a Graphic Designer, I started working in the 1990s. The invention of the internet, deemed ‘the information superhighway’, was excruciatingly slow, with strange high-pitched noises coming from the modem when dialling up. It wasn’t readily available in homes yet and those that did have it, had to wait for your Mum to come off the phone first. At work you had to book the only computer able to connect to it for an hour’s slot, which was mostly spent waiting for a page to load. 

Back in the day, we printed designs for clients and went to meet them. They were never emailed over by PDF. We’d scamp things out and talk about them over long-drawn-out meetings in smoke filled boardrooms with a coffee percolator constantly bubbling in the background. 

Working from home was virtually unheard of unless you were a director and if Covid would have reared its ugly head in the 1990s I would have undoubtedly been furloughed with the other 11.6 million. 

This was obviously before technology came on leaps and bounds, allowing modern day working life to be conducted from home with our readily available fibre optic internet, VoIP phone systems and saving your files to the cloud, letting you access them from anywhere in the world, making it easy to share them with colleagues, all achieved from your newly decorated back room. No more house-barrisment!

Fast forward to July 19th, 2021.

Freedom Day. The UK has been slowly re-opening to Great Britain’s impressive vaccine roll out. Talk is emerging, rumours start to fly of employers making plans to get back to the office – some part time, some on a rotating basis and some even full time! 

Predictably, the country is divided, and office workers are trying their best to stay working from home. More rumours are circulating about the government considering legislating to make working from home the “default” option by giving employees the right to request it. 

Apple employees have written a letter to their CEO, Tim Cook, outlining why they don’t want to return to the office. Most Apple employees are being asked to come in on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, and it would be up to them whether they work from home on the remaining two days, Cook said.

Video calls from home “simply cannot replicate” some aspects of office life. This comes after both Facebook and Twitter have told employees that remote working can carry on post pandemic even when Covid 19 subsides. 

CEO’s, Managing Directors and bosses all over the UK are telling us that we must get dressed in the mornings and go into work, full time. Immediately I thought, “who’s going to accept my Amazon deliveries?” I joke.

We’ll all have to start relying back on the grandparents to pick up the kids from school

No healthier, well prepared family meals in the evening, as it’s back to spaghetti hoops and quick ding meals for my family… Bruce will be distraught. 

For me, as much as I enjoy the office life and the social interaction, working from home has led to fewer interruptions, less office politics, a quieter noise level, and less (or more efficient) meetings.

When done right, remote work allows employees and companies to focus on what really matters – performance. Though the pandemic may have been the catalyst for remote work for many millions of employees around the world, it’s far from the only reason to work from home. Indeed, the benefits of working from home impact so many things on a global scale that it’s sure to become the best path forward.

Ultimately, I can’t have Bruce feeling upset now, can I?

Sad dog

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