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Blurred Boundaries: Does Working From Home Help or Hurt?

Remote work options are a hot-button topic these days. With over 70% of people hoping to continue to find some flexibility in their workspace offerings, it’s time to get down to data in figuring out what those options really offer you.

Particular areas of impact

The uncertainty doesn’t end when your company chooses to offer remote work options. So if WFH is something you’re trying to make work for you,  how do you decide what’s best for your work-life balance?

Whether you’re contemplating returning to the office, already have, or are just reflecting on the difference in experience, there are many factors to consider in relation to remote work.

Productivity

For many companies, the metric for productivity has been observable for most of their corporate existence. Shifting to the measures of productivity as a reflection of output instead of observed effort is something that has been reinforced through remote work, especially when it became the only option for many companies to keep their employees working in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Measuring productivity, and encouraging it, are important considerations in WFH initiatives. Whether you are looking to optimize your own productivity or illustrate it to someone else, navigating the difference in measuring productivity in your office is important no matter where it’s located.

two men working on their laptops

Culture

Office culture is undeniably different when it’s happening through virtual meetings and slack channels. Whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen. When most of your company culture is developed in a remote space, you have to be intentional with the way you build relationships and make connections.

Perhaps culture is more adaptable than we thought though. Meaningful connection is possible with your colleagues, clients, teams, or prospective sales negotiations when working remotely. Regardless of how this weighs for you, keeping culture in mind as you navigate the way you structure your work environment is critical, even for those who prefer to work alone.

Time management

Working from home has a unique scheduling side. You can be in and out of your personal life with the close of a laptop and the flip of a clock. For many people, it’s unclear whether this falls on the positive or negative side of their remote work equation.

On the upside, your working hours are exactly as expected and you have no lost hours to your commute. On the less sunny side, it’s that much easier to just finish off one more task at 9pm on a Saturday. This means that while there are fewer out-of-hours commitments outside of your working obligations. It also means that you have to be more intentional with the way you manage your time to preserve the boundaries around your roles and spaces while maintaining your productivity goals.

Positive – Negative – Neutral

Like an atom, most decisions are made up of multiple parts with different charges. The list below is broken into three sections for simplicity: positive, negative, and neutral considerations for remote work.

While the items on it have been categorized for an at-a-glance view of considering what matters most to you in striking an effective work-life balance, your own needs may mean the items shift columns.

Positive

  • Higher overall productivity
  • Less time commuting
  • More schedule flexibility
  • Lower carbon footprint
  • Savings on travel expenses

Negative

  • Less effective communication
  • Limited information access
  • Access to tech facilities limited
  • Social isolation
  • Less separation of work and home life

Neutral

  • Corporate offices are likely to become smaller, less prominent
  • Multiple timezone teams more likely

The neutrality of timezones and size of offices may be more or less relevant depending on your industry or the size of the office. Some companies are opting to offer smaller office space with amenities like conference rooms and larger tech systems (like 3D printers or copiers).

Other items that may impact where you categorize things on your lists are wifi reliability, privacy in your living space, the cost/reliability of transportation, and team communication needs.

Look at all sides

Take a look at some of the key highlights and drawbacks of WFH can help you find clarity and peace of mind in striking the right balance in your life. It’s helpful to think of working from home with a less polarizing lens when you’re trying to weigh up its impact on your life. At StressSolutions, we use a therapy technique called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). We like to describe it as “walking in the middle” between acceptance and change.

When you’re thinking about remote work, an approach that centers on intentional duality can be helpful. For many people, there are aspects of remote or office work that will inevitably be the deciding factor. That factor, and the weight of it in your own work-life balance, will look different for everyone.

Making decisions about your work environment can be just as challenging as making decisions about schedules and commitments, but it can also be just as rewarding. When you strike the work-life.

guy working on his laptop

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