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Do you want to carry on working from home when lockdown restrictions are lifted?

PUBLISHED: 12:38 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:58 29 April 2020

When we put this wire word sign up in our hallway back in early February, little did we know how apt it would become

When we put this wire word sign up in our hallway back in early February, little did we know how apt it would become

Archant

Who’d have thought just a few months ago that we would see a nationwide shift to home working. But now that it’s here, would you like it to carry on once restrictions lift? See where you stand on the pros and cons of working from home by taking part in our poll.

After six weeks of home working, I think I’ve finally got my head around this “new normal”. The question on many lips is: Will COVID-19 result in a permanent shift towards home working?

I’ve got mixed feelings about it. Over the weeks, my list of home working pros and cons has evolved, with some completely reversing. I’ll explain:

NO COMMUTE

Lots of people won't be missing the daily commute to and from work, but it does offer a transition between home and work   Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoLots of people won't be missing the daily commute to and from work, but it does offer a transition between home and work Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Was a pro – now a con

Sounds like an obvious pro, right? Wrong! As the weeks have passed, I’m missing the commute more and more.

Yes, it means I can stay in bed for a bit longer and technically get “home” much quicker at the end of the day, but I’ve realised that the commute is an essential part of the separation between home and work.

It’s a transition period; in the morning it allows you to get your head around the working day ahead, while in the evening it draws a line under “work”, allowing “home” to become the new focus.

Video calls are something that will undoubtably continue if people carry on working from home after lockdown restrictions ease  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoVideo calls are something that will undoubtably continue if people carry on working from home after lockdown restrictions ease Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Those lines are blurred when there’s less than a minute separating them!

NO COMMUNITY

Was a con – now a pro

I was initially really worried how a whole business working from home could have any community spirit. More than 500 people normally work in Prospect House; how can it possibly work going from everyone being in one physical location to a remote workforce spread all over the county?

I needn’t have worried. The community spirit is stronger than ever, with regular updates from senior management highlighting the positive work going on around the business, and an intranet which provides a multi-purpose platform for everything from individual achievements and the sharing of ideas, to jokes, quizzes and silly pictures taken during team video chats.

The collaboration between departments is also at an all-time high, as we all come together to get through these (I am loath to use this word) unprecedented times.

MORE FAMILY TIME

Was a pro – possibly turning into a con

If I’m totally honest, after 6 weeks (that’s 42 days, 1008 hours or 60,480 minutes – but who’s counting?) the cracks are starting to show.

At first it was lovely. Both me and my husband work full time and I’m consequently always wracked with mum guilt about not spending enough time with our eight-year-old son, so the idea of being able to pop and see him at any point in the day was a refreshing one.

But ultimately, the kids-go-to-school, parents-go-to-work structure is a sound one.

The adage “quality over quantity” possibly applies here.

WORK/LIFE BALANCE

Was a con – still a con (but it was even when I was working in the office)

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I’ve always found this one tricky. I’m not very good at compartmentalising my work and home life. And now that my dining table is transformed into my desk during the week, it’s even harder to turn off at the end of the day.

I do try to take screen breaks and a proper lunch break, made easier by the fact that I only have to take two steps to be in my garden in the sunshine – the weather has made this whole situation more bearable!

I do put the computer away at weekends – much to my son’s disappointment as it means no more eating off trays in front of the telly!

DRESS DOWN

Was a pro – now a con

For the first few weeks I didn’t wear my contacts or make-up (the joy of fuzzy video calls is that no one notices), and I wore jeans everyday – heaven!

However, I’ve found myself reaching for the foundation and mascara over the last week or so, and today I’ve even made the effort to put contacts in. Why? Simply to make me feel better; I’m fed up with looking in the mirror all the time to see a non-made up face staring back at me.

I’m also apparently not alone in ordering a couple of new tops – a spokesperson for Boohoo told the BBC that sales of tops have gone up as people want to look smart on video calls.

Basically, going into the office gives you the excuse to spend time on looking your best, and I’ve realised, vain as it sounds, that I need that.

I’m still wearing jeans everyday though – that will never wear off!

COMMUNICATION

Was a con – now a pro

I admit that, at the beginning, I was concerned about virtual communication.

Coincidentally, in the months before COVID-19, the whole business had migrated over to Office 365. Little did we know how much easier this would make our new home-working lives.

We’d all been encouraged to use Teams, a virtual hub for teamwork, as an alternative to email, but sitting on the same bank of desks meant we didn’t use it to its full potential.

That all changed when we switched to home working. We use it for instant messaging, whether in team group chats or individually, plus video calls, which is where its real value lies.

Every morning my team can come together in a virtual face-to-face environment to catch up, plan the day ahead and just have a bit of human interaction.

It’s been a godsend, and undoubtably something we’ll continue to use if home working continues post-COVID-19.

So that brings me back to the original question: Will COVID-19 result in a permanent shift towards home working? I think the answer is yes.

Home working won’t be a barrier anymore, it will become an acceptable alternative which businesses and individuals can embrace with the confidence that it does work.

But, taking into consideration all of the above, would I want to carry on working from home full-time? No-way – I can’t wait for that first day back when I can put make-up on and not have to ask myself “What’s the point?”, drop my son off at school, drive to work in my car, catch up with people from other departments over the water fountain, have those silly team chats that pop up throughout the day when you least expect them, and, when I get home, eat dinner at my dining table.

One or two days a week? No problem!

WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK

How about you? Take our poll and let us know if you’d be happy to keep working from home.


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