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This article is written by Shivani Nair, from Manipal University Jaipur. This is an exhaustive article which deals with the topic of the myths and realities of working from home.

Introduction

For someone who has had a long commute or a critically busy schedule, working from home can be a dream come true. One can also say goodbye to the transportation costs as well as the stress of commutation and traffic. Also, it could be there extra hours of free time, when one does not have to travel to get to the workplace, can be utilised for pursuing some hobby and relaxing. While working from home may seem like an ideal settlement, it is not the case for many, and therefore, we must keep in mind a few things before considering it.

Working from Home

Working from home is a concept where the person so employed, can do his or her job from home. The option of working from home provides the employer, to do work, in a very productive manner, whilst keeping the work-life balance. It is a modernised way of working that is enabled through the use of internet and mobility, wherein irrespective of the actual location of the person, the work can be done by the individual. Working from home is also known as Telecommuting or Working Remotely, which states that the person is working from elsewhere other than the designated workplace. 

Myths and Realities

The one thing that people consider working from home to be, is, that one can wear whatever they want to, be it formals, sweatpants, jeans, stay at any place in the house, like one’s bedroom, and work. But what working from home really is, has been busted in a few realities. 

Myth 1: You can work as well as care for the family members

This is the biggest myth that exists. It is practically hard to get the work done as well as to care for the family members. If there are infirm persons or kids at home, and they are required to be taken care of, that does not include the person working from home, as they would not be able to give as much of a time to their family members, despite working from home. So how does one tackle this issue? Either one could hire a person to take care of the family members, or in a situation like the current one, where the persons are required to remain socially distant, they could ask other family members to take care. If there are no other family members available, one could also arrange the schedule according to the maintenance of those family members. 

Myth 2: One does not actually “work” from home

Most people have often joked about how “working from home” is not actually working from home, but doing household chores. This means people have at least thought of running errands and doing other things that are not the work they were designated to do. While one can actually make lunch while working from home, as it gives you the liberty to do so, it does not mean that one does not have to do the work one is assigned to do and surf social media for the whole day. 

However, it has been proven through the studies conducted by Stanford University that people are generally more productive when they work from home. This study has shown that the people who work from home have shown an improvement of about 13% in their productivity. It showed the study of people who were working at call centres. It stated that these people who were working from home, took more calls per minute than they would have taken on an average while working from their scheduled workplaces. 

Myth 3: You can work on your couch, your bed, or even in your pyjamas

If looked at technically, one can, in fact, stay in their night suits or work anywhere, unless one does not have to attend video calls from their bosses or someone superior to them. 

One wants to spend most of his or her time in pyjamas when one is either sick or in a mood to relax or even when one is in a jammy mode. By being in pyjamas, one does not feel the need to get up and do their work. 

Thus, staying in pyjamas the whole day, will not get one hyped up for completing their work. Not everyone at every time has to be present in business formals, but the least one can do is wear those kinds of things that make them look ready for work. 

While choosing a place to sit and work, although one can prefer to be jammed up on the couch or on the bed, the most admirable thing would be to avoid those two places. The good thing to do would be to set up a mini-workspace for yourself to work from home. If one does typically sit on the couch or the bed to relax or even to watch television or any other sort of entertainment purpose, it would be good to avoid those places, as it could distract oneself from the work they were actually allowed to do. Also, dragging the laptop to one’s bed would be terrible for the sleep hygiene of the person who is working from home. 

The type of setup one requires also determines where one can work. If one needs to work on a large monitor, using a desk would be the most appropriate thing to do. Setting up an ambience for working from home without distractions is the key to greater productivity.

Myth 4: Anything is okay when you work from Home

The common misconception over here would be that working from home gives you flexible working hours which may be limitless. While working from home does give one the freedom to choose their own timings, it is not so in the case of all the workplaces and also not in the case where you need to complete a certain task within a certain time period. For the most part of the work, the businesses expect their employees to work during the same scheduled hours of business the employers used to work while they were at their workspace. The added benefit of working during the same hours as one’s colleague would mean that they could reach out to other colleagues during the day in case of any needed emergency to fulfil the requirements of a task. 

Myth 5: Employers not allowing people to work from home

Almost half of the people who are employed in business have this mindset that their employers would not allow them to work from home and require them to be on-site for their duties and work that could be done even from home. However, the opposite has been true. A study called the State of Remote Work which had been conducted showed that more than 90% of the respondents who were the employers had agreed for their employees to work from home. Thus, it always pays to make negotiations with one’s bosses regarding working from home, if given the opportunity. 

Many employers and business owners are so much keener on helping and letting their employees on working from home, especially during a crisis such as the current – COVID-19 Coronavirus. If it involves the health and safety of the employers, the employees and business owners happily agree to them, working from home. 

Pros of Working from Home

There are several benefits of working from home, especially in times of crisis like this. A few have been listed below:

Limited exposure to sick contacts

Sometimes, the office workspace is crammed up with cubicles or conference rooms where there are many people sitting together, and also includes that one employee, who should have stayed at home, because he or she was sick and is a carrier of such sickness. The chances of avoiding such persons are negligible especially if you’re in a room filled with many other co-workers. One can sanitize themselves, wash their hands, avoid touching them, to prevent oneself from contracting the sickness. But what can really be done, is to stay at home and have no contact with them whatsoever. This is the safest way to prevent yourself from being another carrier of sickness.

Working from home does not just limit yourself from the exposure against sick workers who might be having flu, a cold, fever or even a pandemic level threat of sickness, it also, protects and prevents you from the exposure against potentially sick people who do not show any signs of sickness in the beginning, and people who come in regular contact with people, such as the people who travel only by public transportation, or the barista who you come in contact with every morning while having your coffee, or any other person.

It might also be helpful if you’re the one who is ill and prevents others from coming in contact with you. 

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No commute

The average travel time one takes would range anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour. This means that the maximum time period that a man takes to travel from his workspace back to his or her house would take almost half a day towards the end of the week. 

By working from home, the person saves almost half a day’s commute time in a week while being at his work, which he could utilise for other activities that would make him or her happy. 

Increased productivity

When one person works from home, as the studies by Stanford University have shown, they tend to work even better and are able to deliver better results. Many people are there to get their work done well before time and even in a better manner. 

They tend to work more, as they would not have to go around meetings all day while dropping their work, so they can complete it on time with a better result. 

Cons of Working from Home

While it does seem like a good option, it is not just a bed of roses. It does have a few drawbacks too:

Reliable high-speed internet connection

If one lives in an area where it is not virtually possible to get very good internet connectivity, it will be very difficult for that person to work from home. Most of the offices that require one person to work from home, want their employers to have a high-speed internet connection. 

One needs to have the internet for video conferencing, checking up emails, and other online things so that one can work properly from home. 

The internet can go down unexpectedly, which is why it can be a major issue, especially when you have a deadline for the submission of the work assigned to you.

Feeling distant from Colleagues

While some of us may not want to socially interact with people, it is sometimes nice to have a connection with them, and knowing one’s colleagues. Although online platforms are available, face-to-face interaction is not possible in the case of a work-from-home business. 

For someone who is not used to working from home, the first few days or weeks can feel lonely.

Finding yourself on the clock

Perhaps the greatest drawback of working from home would be the overload of work one has taken in. it can be difficult to disconnect from the work assigned towards the end of the day as there is to rush to actually head home after the office timings. One can find themselves checking emails or completing the work ahead of time while they should be relaxing with the family. It is important to sign off from the work after your assigned work has been completed, especially within the office timings, so that you do not overburden yourself with more work. 

Conclusion

If one is working from home while they’re used to working from the office, switching to the former can be a hard adjustment. Things can be very crucial in times of uncertainty when one is not sure whether working from home will be a temporary or a permanent change. 

Making a plan and carving out the appropriate working atmosphere at home, should definitely do the trick for those who do not want to feel lonely or dejected as it is vital to set boundaries and understanding that everyone is on the same page as yours. 

References


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