This is one of my first ever blog posts – its not something I’ve done before, but thought I would have a go at starting one, particularly if it could possibly help others! All views are solely my own.
Upon the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, remote working was something that was suddenly forced upon so many people who could thankfully continue to operate. I can certainly see how to some, mainly those from a generation where being strictly office based is the norm, can prove to be a major change with little time to adapt. It is suddenly a huge breakaway from the usual routine. You are all of a sudden thrust into something completely new.
Personally though, and again I respect that everybody has their own way of working which suits them, which is fine. There have been so many people who I have worked with over the last 18 years, who thrive in a busy, noisy environment. They enjoy the ‘office banter’ and like having a set routine every single day. That is fine as everybody has their own way of working, which suits them and allows them to produce their best work. It is something that is to be respected, as each and every person is different.
I have found though, that working remotely continuously, for me, has so many more positives rather than negatives, particularly when your focus is on a completely different side of a business compared to the majority of your colleagues.
You can use the time spent on a morning, and late afternoon commute to put towards your work productivity instead. I’ve found it so beneficial having an extra 60-80 minutes in your day, particularly time normally spent on the morning commute to focus on answering urgent emails, getting pressing requests out of the way and being able to clear the path for your day ahead. You also don’t have the potential problem of heavy rush hour traffic and arriving to your place of work stressed out and in a hurry.
With the use of the fantastic technology that is now at our disposal, such as MacBooks, iPads, phones and even Apple Watches, it is so easy to stay constantly connected and engaged to what is going on within your respective companies and industries, wherever you are in the world, at any time. Even before the pandemic, I’m sure like many others, particularly of my generation , the whole 8-5 set working hours only really stood for time you have to be in your set place of work, whereas getting down to business always really begins when you first check your correspondence when waking up, or even getting bits done on your remote devices in the evenings. I honestly thing that the whole ‘8 till 5’ set working hours will over the next 5 years or so, be something that dies out and is fast becoming an outdated practise.
Personally, I’ve found continuous remote / home working beneficial for my confidence, and the quality of my work. We have an office at home, and I find I am much more focused and make far less mistakes in my own environment without the pressures and distractions that a busy, noisy and pressurized office environment can bring. I also find that I am a lot more confident and free flowing whilst on the phone, without loads of others around you, and without that possibility that someone may jump into your call. I find that you feel a lot freer to put your own stamp on things, and your work is a lot more enjoyable without the pressures around you to do your work in a way which may suit somebody else more than it does yourself. As somebody who can easily get distracted at times, I’m someone who feels much more comfortable working this way.
The ability to move around and adjust your working environment accordingly also has its benefits. For example, we have been fortunate enough to have some amazing (and rare) weather in Norfolk over the last few weeks. Sometimes it’s nice just to be able to adjust your surroundings and bring the MacBook or iPad outside in the garden or some outside space and continue working there. Sometimes when you need to focus on a specific task, or you are on an important phone conversation, being in an environment where you can think clearly, can be confident and engaging certainly helps, rather than having to block out continuous distractions and background noise of a busy workplace.
I’ve found that I’m a lot more happier being able to balance life and work a bit more. For example, it’s nice being able to have a quick 10-15 minutes away from your work when you need them to maybe compose your thoughts and views on a specific subject or to clear your head. You can grab something to eat as and when you feel like you need it, and feel free to do the odd job that may need doing, such as calling an energy company, pop into town for something, or sorting out an essential task, that you feel you can only do outside your ‘work hours’.
Although it’s not something that we can do safely at the moment, I also love working remotely whilst travelling to see those who you need to see in your respective industries. It’s nice, and equally important to work closer and to learn from and about those who either purchase or produce your products. It goes without saying that trying your best to look after and support your customers and suppliers is absolutely paramount and getting to travel to see them is such an important part of work nowadays for me. I am more than happy with getting up and hitting the road early, and never mind travelling back late. There are so many places nowadays where you can stop along the way to get some work done, and obviously it’s great to have the Bluetooth technology in your car so you can talk and engage with those you need to safely whilst travelling. One of my favourites is Starbucks – when travelling out of Norfolk towards London via the A14, or up the A47 to head to the North, there are a few on the way which usually aren’t to overly busy, where you can set yourself up, grab a coffee and something to eat, and get some good quality work done whilst heading towards or from your meeting.
Both continuous improvement and learning are a big thing for me and its always something I try and prioritise in everything I do. I always think that no matter what stage we are at, there is always room to continue to learn, develop and improve something. I have found that being able to work remotely in my own environment has allowed me to reflect more on how I’m doing, and to invest more time in myself when necessary, which subsequently has more of a positive effect, not just on my work, but in my life generally. For someone who was diagnosed with depression back in January, I still have a long way to go, but feel that being able to work this way currently has helped bring me a long way personally, in a short space of time.
For many employers out there, remote working is something that is still yet to be embraced, with many still stuck in 1996 where the view can sometimes be taken that if you are not at your desk, you are not working. Many even simply don’t have the belief that productivity will remain or even be increased when staff have the comfortability of working in their own environments, mainly for more established companies.
It’s interesting to see which different ways of working suit others. At the end of the day, we are all different, and what might suit somebody, may not always suit the other person.