Before this pandemic madness, in September 2019, I quit my job and started my own freelancing business. The initial idea was to get a co-working space. However, to save expenses, I decided to work from home on the initial stage. I never thought about co-working spaces since then, and I don't think I will any time soon.
My job in the office was what I called an "on-site remote job". I was integrated in a company, but I was barely working directly with other employees. I worked directly with the company's client 4 days a week, and did internal work only on the remaining day. But even on that day, I did my work with very little collaboration. I felt like an independent entity inside a company.
It was a no-brainer for me and that's not case for everyone. At least not at first sight. Fortunately the company was nice enough to keep things mainly as they were, with the difference that I was now no longer an employee. I kept the client and started working as a freelancer.
This isn't a very conventional story, and your case might be a bit more complicated. But the main take on it is that I left an office job to start a home office situation. Everyone knows (or assumes) the challenges of working from home, most of which revolve around having the discipline to keep a routine + the lack of social interaction. Those were in fact my concerns as well. But what people often don't realise is that working within an office poses as many challenges or more to working remotely. And this is sometimes hard to see specially when the common concerns that are raised when thinking about working remotely are a projection of the what we know about working from an office.
In my case, the challenge to working in an office is that it became very hard to think about my day as a whole. I had the working part of your day, and rest of my day. And that is, I realised, a bit twisted. Your day should be your own. And even though you're getting paid to work, your employer does not own your time. It owns the work you produce. And that's all they are paying for.
For me, the problem with working from an office is that my entire 24 hours would end up revolving about my job. The time I got up would be determined by the time I had to get to the office. The time I got home to be with my family would depend on what time I'd leave the office. The time I got to bed, would be just enough to be able to get a good night's sleep before I got up in the morning to get it all started again. It really didn't feel like I actually owned this time. It was an orchestrated routine to keep me getting to my job in time, staying there for 8 or 9 hours, and leaving to finish off my day to get it all started again next morning. And then, of course, there's the weekend. That time is yours, yes. But even that felt like it only existed to get my rest levels straight, to get back to wheel fully energised on Monday.
When you realise that your day is yours and yours alone, you'll realise that working from home truly is an easy way to reclaim that time, and organise it in the way that suits you best. That doesn't mean you wouldn't deliver on the work your employer is paying for, but it should mean that the efficiency of how you do that same work is entirely up to you. This isn't a rant against employers. They are the whole point of this text, because they are the ones that will benefit the most.
Did you ever think about that? I mean those days that you are really knocking everything out of the park. You're killing it. Did you ever stop and think "Why am I working so well today?"
The days I feel like this are usually the days when I just feel particularly happy. There can be a specific reason, or maybe I just woke up in a good mood. But those are the days I work better. There are studies to back this up, but it's always something I noticed. The same way I know that in the days I'm feeling down, I produce nothing but garbage. Of course there can be a correlation here. Being successful increases your confidence level, which will probably improve your mood, which will make you better at performing your task, which will continue to increase your confidence, and so on. In any case, one way or another, being happier will at least increase your confidence, which will certainly improve how successful you are at a given task.
The reason why happiness plays a big role here is because having control over your life and your time, will, I am sure, improve your day, simply because you won't deal with most of the stresses of a regular day (see "Study says that remote workers are happier and stay in jobs longer"). You won't deal with traffic, or your commute. You won't be constantly interrupted with whatever is going on inside the office. You won't be on meetings all the time where most of that time is wasted. You won't worry about rushing an idea for dinner after an exhausting day of work. You can actually plan your work day around what you need to do, and not the other way around.
For me, this was a huge load of my shoulders. I was able to take the time to organise my life. And a life better organised is a life where you don't waste as much time doing your daily tasks. All of the sudden, it's in your best interest to do these tasks efficiently, because that's time in your pocket. And it's time in your employers pocket as well. Ultimately, more time makes you happier. Less stress, less rushing to everything, more time for personal endeavours or with whatever hobbies you may have. It doesn't just improve your personal life. Being happier makes you better at your job. And why wouldn't an employer want that?!
Even if, for some weird reason, you think you wouldn't be happier if you had more time, I want to challenge to whom ever is reading this to give me a solid reason of how this would hurt in any way.
In the meantime, specially if you are a business owner, here a few more benefits to consider:
And there you have it. If you are a business owner, I'm sure you are annoyed by my misunderstanding of how to run a company. I'm sure you're right. I'm also sure that most of your concerns revolve about something like "How do I know my employer is working and not just browsing facebook all day?"
If you have those concerns, it probably means that you don't trust your employees. And you are 100% right in that case. If you don't trust your own employees, you won't be able to transition to a remote work situation. However, lack of trust happens for two reasons:
This sounds harsh and it's meant to sound like that. Micromanaging your team doesn't make it more productive. Micromanaging sucks time of your day, which will ultimately hurt the company because you - the leader and visionary - are worried about what everyone else is doing all of time, instead of thinking about the vision that made you start the company in the first place. At best, it makes everyone work like you would, which is unlikely to be the best way. If you hire someone to do a job, it shouldn't be just because you don't have time to do it yourself; it should be because they have the potential to be better at it than you are. If you suffocate them by micromanaging, at best, they'll work just as well as you would. But because you're wasting your time controlling everyone, you didn't actually gain much by hiring someone else to do the job.
Anyway, that's it for now. I might expand on this "micromanaging asshole topic". I kinda like it.
Regardless of what you do for a living, you can and you should add that tiny bit of magic to your job. It won't cost you anything. It won't take you more time, or be harder to do. But if you're serving someone, going that extra mile makes you look better and helps making the organisation you represent more trustworthy.