#WFH - Working from home & maximising my productivity
By David O'Connor
Client Happiness Team @ PepTalk
Working for PepTalk has allowed me to do a lot of pretty cool things! For example, wearing runners and jeans to client meetings, inserting emojis into email reply’s, meeting some really interesting people and listening to certain colleagues bang on about 'how great West Life are' (the impact of Cathal Sheridan is entirely NOT positive on the PepTalk Team 🙄) for hours on end during brainstorm meetings.
But for me, the trump card has been the flexibility that enables me to work from home when needed.
Like so many other families, mine is no different in that we have a young child and both myself and my partner work full time. So yes, you guessed it, our life is made up of the constant juggling of daily life, which can become exhausting at times.
You feel guilty for dropping your child into creche before the sun has even risen, you feel guilty for being the first one out the door of the office in the evenings, you feel (semi) guilty for breaking several road traffic laws trying to fight your way through rush hour traffic to get back to the creche, and then to finish the day off, you feel guilty for only getting to spend an hour with your child before they nod off for the night. And then you get up and do it all over again the next day.
The flexibility to be able to work from home has changed a lot of this for me. I can work from home for a full day, meaning that I avoid the traffic congestion and time lost commuting to and from the office and as the creche is quite close to our home, it means my daughter sees the benefits in fewer hours spent away from home that day.
The days that I am in the office, the flexibility enables me to leave in the evening with less guilt, as I can log back on later that night to finish off the day’s work after the lights go out on the fun (madness) in the house. The result for me is a much better work-life balance and studies have shown that there are many more good reasons for both employees and employers to consider this type of flexibility.
It is estimated that approximately 216,000 people in Ireland currently work from home.
This number is expected to grow significantly in the years ahead, by 2025, 75 per cent of all workers will be millennials. Millennials want flexibility, they don’t want to sit in traffic with everybody else for 9 to 5, especially when they start having children.
A two-year Stanford study showed a significant productivity boost among employees working from home. Turns out work-from-home employees work a true full-shift (or more) versus being late to the office or leaving early multiple times a week and found it less distracting and easier to concentrate at home.
Additionally (and incredibly), employee attrition decreased by 50 per cent among the employees working from home, they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off. Not to mention the reduced carbon emissions from fewer cars clogging up the morning commute. A positive environmental impact that we can all strive for.
Oh, and by the way, the company saved almost €2,000 per employee on rent by reducing the amount of HQ office space. (The reduction in the vast amounts of tea and milk in the office were not taken into account)
The topic of working from home has become so relevant that even The Revenue Commissioners have issued guidance for employees deciding to take up the opportunity. Thankfully, there appear to be no major pitfalls as your home remains classified as your principal private residence for capital gains tax purposes and there are no BIK implications for the use of company equipment in your home.
A drawback highlighted by some studies to working from home is that employees need to learn to control the number of hours that they work as some found that they ended up working much longer days as there was no natural end time to the day.
Overall, my experience of working from home has been extremely positive. I tend to plan my week around the days that I will be at home and line up my schedule to suit so that I have projects that require more headspace planned for those days.
Work-life balance should be important to us all, as if we get this right, we will be happier and more productive in all aspects of our life ... and feel less guilty!!!
My 7 simple ground rules for working from home are :
Set a schedule for your day - it can be tempting to sleep in late, load the dishwasher or grab a bit of shopping, but try to keep your day routinised to make sure you are productive and not working what then feels like 'all day'
Prepare your workspace & separate work from home - build out a productive dedicated workspace only used for work. Separate work from home in that way and have all the tools you need to do your work there.
Keep it professional - get out of your PJs, don't have the dog barking in the background, or kids running into the room during calls.
Be accessible - set aside times of the day to be accessible to customers/clients/colleagues. in reality we are human, so it's important to be visible/accessible to those you work with.
Curb 'visitors' - its easy for well-meaning friends, family or neighbours to pop by unannounced because 'you're home' but you may need to set ground rules so you aren't' interrupted. The same way people wouldn’t stop by your office building mid-day, they shouldn’t stop by your home office without prior notice either.
Limit distractions - Music, television and noisy household sounds can cause you to lose focus. Limit outside influences as much as possible. Send household phone calls to voicemail, encourage family members to give you privacy and go as far as to soundproof your work area if necessary.
Think confidentiality & security first - one thing you have to be careful of as a 'remote worker' is security. Care needs to be taken if you are working in public spaces, on public wifi and even if you are having conversations in public areas.
Client Success Manager @ PepTalk
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