People work for many reasons. For me the workaholic journey started from the idea of covering the basic resource needs. I just wanted to pay for the food. Later it became mostly self-realization thingy.
Work is not the only thing needed for a healthy being. Spending quality time with family, side projects, working out etc is also important. For all of that we need some spare resources: time, attention, willpower. Working from home is an incredible setup allowing to boost all of the areas having a more productive employee as a result.
This post was inspired by a recent offering to work on the other side of the city (no remoting), so I’ve decided to evaluate the benefits involved. By the way, you can also check out my story of starting to work remotely.
Whenever I commute in Kiev, it takes 1 hour regardless of where I go to. If something takes more than that, I consider the thing to be outside of Kiev : )
5 times a week an hour to the work plus an hour to return makes 10 hours total. Thus I will spent 10 more hours not on my side projects: 40 + 10 = 50 hrs.
The place I currently live in has everything I need in walking distance: groceries, gym, a few cafes for when we don’t feel like cooking, farmer’s market, my driving school, self-government.
When the infrastructure at work goes down and I exhaust all the ways to make that live again, I just go ahead and do something from my personal task list.
Having to commute somewhere in such cases makes mental barrier higher so just slacking off in the office seems like an easier strategy. I don’t like life setups encouraging things which are not effective long term.
Leveraging the productive time
There are hours when our bodies tell us we’re ready for something in particular and there are hours we feel otherwise.
If I feel like working during the commute time – that productive urge is being lost. The advantage of having the ability to work from home is just that. I can do productive work whenever I feel tike that.
Similarly, when I feel bad, I can have a short nap, work without leaving my bed or do all of that in my favorite pajama in the midst of the day.
Stable energy supply
A few years ago I’ve discovered that eating regularly is very important for my wellbeing. Whenever I’m hungry, I’m more reactive (prone to screaming at people) and less productive.
I guess some of the companies have food catered just because of this reason (yay google with their supplies).
Apart from the feeling good at work, eating regularly allows me to feel good after the work, in my spare time – this is not visible on the time sheets but allows me to sustain a good pace in the long run.
At home place it’s much easier for me to arrange steady supply of foods.
Whenever flu season comes, the public transportation is filled with infected people. Similarly are the offices (especially if your company does not allow working from home while urging the employees to meet deadlines and client commitments).
This year I’m spending a lot of time at home and I didn’t had any of that yet. Last year I’ve been sick at least 2 times while having only once per week office volunteering gig (tutoring kids).
Infrastructure investments are easier to make
From the stuff I’ve observed it is common for companies (yay outsourcing) to put their offices on the outskirts and / or put off installing improved AC’s.
I even have a story in my past where I was not very fond of our AC equipment, found a system to fix that but the thing never happened because of the difficulties involved with the building owner and stuff.
At my home I can do much more with much less hustle. Also it’s rather cool to upgrade both my home and working environment with the same actions (yay standing desk made of cardboard!). Me being happy in this respect too are a direct result of being interested and having this control in the same time.
By the way, me not being in the office means somebody else can be there, in the end less space rented more moneys saved.
Better control over reachability / interruptions
Open space offices are also full of distractions. I can ask my teammates to give me a break for a few hours but that does not prevent people from other teams from reaching out for something.
Working from home is just like having my own personal office in this respect: I turn the Skype off once decided to have some productive time et voila – I can code up a decent chunk of something even in the middle of a day.
Ability to work from home also allows us to change bases. Grabbing the whole team to chill at a beach bar is awesome bonding experience as well as a nice refresher for a tired brain.
The other side of the table
I know that allowing people to work remotely feels dangerous as you have much less control over people.
I’ve been in team leading positions with people being on the other side the Earth a few times. Some people tend to work well in such circumstances, other tend to slack off. Herding people to the offices doesn’t solve this problem completely too (especially if you have Xbox there).
I also recognize WFH is not a silver bullet. What I would like to say here is that value of allowing to work from home is tremendous. Use it discreetly to win / reward talent.
Bad, good and the unexpected
This week I had a conversation with another company who seems like a good cultural fit. They have a work from home policy but encourage people to work from the office.
I love the style: instead of putting regulations which enforce your presence, the environment is just built in a way where it feels good to visit the office.
Interestingly enough, I feel compelled with the thing. Let’s see where will I be in a year from now : )