So, it seems that remote work virtually gave many of us our lives back: no more traffic jams, no more wasting a few hours a day just to perform the exact same tasks that could be done at home. Following up on Part 1 of my article, I have to say – I am a big fan of the change that happened in how we work, in IT and other business sectors.
Having said that, I’m not quite sure whether waking up five minutes before a daily stand-up meeting is such a good idea. Yes, I’m exaggerating a bit, but the point is that commuting serves also as a time during which we prepare for a workday before getting to the office as well as a moment when we cool down afterwards. Before the pandemic, people used this time to, sort of by the way, get ready for work. Some were planning the day, some were thinking about what would be important to bring up at a meeting, etc. And then after work, taking a walk to a tram, train or biking back home helped leaving all the professional tasks and challenges behind, for the evening. Then also, while wearing sweatpants with a business top at home is comfortable, dressing up in business attire can elevate one’s mood and give a boost of confidence in a day full of professional challenges. Yes, I know, dress-code arguments might not resonate with everybody working in IT (especially if most you interact with during your working day is your code, office or home-office), but these are important factors for those who have for example client-facing or leadership roles.
Interestingly, research shows that in many companies remote work improved productivity, as recently described by Bloomberg in their article “Work From Home to Lift Productivity by 5% in Post-Pandemic U.S.” Ironically, a potential drop in productivity was once the main fear of managers who were hesitant to give their employees a free hand to work remotely. Having no choice after covid hit the world, the companies had to take the leap – and were beyond happy (but surprised) to discover that a lot of times their workers not only get the job done, but do it quicker. Why? When I talk to developers they point out that at home they are able to focus more. Therefore, when a programming task requires a greater amount of concentration, for these people working from home is a blessing. Many of those who now work in a hybrid model choose to perform such tasks remotely, and come to the office for meetings and less demanding programming exercises.
…and work-life balance
On the other hand, it’s not so easy to divide work time and personal time when working remotely. The lines are often blurred, especially if the management assumes that since you are home, you are available anyway. (If it sounds weird to you, good! It means that you work remotely in a healthy work environment. Sadly, it’s not the case for everybody.) And even if the management is not crossing the line, sometimes it’s you who does it. “Just a little longer,” you think, and suddenly you find yourself working over hours at your own kitchen table. When you work from home, taking care of your work-life balance can be tricky for some, especially for perfectionists or those who truly love their job and get immersed in their tasks.
Often, it’s the small things that matter
No commuting and time saved as well as comfort and peace are the major advantages of the home office model. But there’s more.
Here’s some other pros of working from home:
- A research conducted by Mental Health America showed that remote work helps reduce stress by minimizing office-related distractions during the work day, keeping people out of office politics, and allowing for a quieter work environment.
- You have a free hand in how you do your work, in so many aspects. Where you work, what you wear, how your working day is arranged… Managers had to give back some control – guess to whom, to you!
- There’s no dress code, unless it’s you who wants to put a business suit on.
- You’re trusted by default that you’ll get your job done – at last! (Who doesn’t remember the vibe of suspicion when you wanted to take a home office DAY?)
And also here’s some more cons:
- In-person team creativity is something that is difficult to recreate online. Sharing the same space results in spontaneous interactions between team members, like off-the-cuff conversations turning out to be significant and problem-solving.
- Information flow is different when you work remotely and some people might feel like they fall out of circulation when working from home.
- You need to be more proactive. If you work in an office, people and information often find you, but if you work remotely, you need to take more matters into your hands when it comes to seeking information, asking for advice, and sometimes volunteering for projects and tasks as well as pushing back when you have too much on your plate. It’s all a bit easier when you are around your team members.
- Finally, remote work can really be a challenge if you are a parent who faces another round of remote learning. It’s not an easy task to navigate homeschooling and working from home.
The beauty of a hybrid model
So, can you have a cookie and eat it too? In this case, it seems you might. The solution is a trending hybrid model that allows people to work from home with an option of coming to the office when they need to. This is a way of working we incorporated in Rite NRG, and for us it is the best choice possible. Why?
- Enabling the employees to choose when they’d like to work from an office and when they’d rather stay home gives everybody more flexibility, allowing everybody to balance work and personal responsibilities.
- Knowing that you can always come to the office if you feel like it, meet your colleagues or simply change your daily routine for a second makes all of us happier. So simple, but so important.
We also decided to invest a lot in keeping team spirit. Organizing in-person team meetings every few weeks, if only for after-work fun, is a very important thing for us. This way we can get to know each other, which then makes everyday work easier and more pleasant. (Like, it’s so much easier to reach out for help to someone you bowled with, right?). Also, what we found just as important are well-thought-out tools for remote work (chats, videoconferencing, having additional shared diaries etc.). And last but not least, giving those of the new joiners who join Rite NRG remotely the best onboarding experience possible. Admittedly, we always want to meet our new colleague in person, but whenever someone joins us from afar, we ship all the equipment and documents, and we are prepared to comfortably conduct remote onboarding, if necessary. At the same time we always encourage everyone who joins us to come to our office in Wrocław for their first day or two, just to have a chance to meet, grab lunch together, talk more about the company, work together a bit, and so on. These things are always priceless and they always pay off.
Looks like almost everybody in the IT business appreciates the remote work mode being a viable option, either full time or just whenever they need it. In Rite NRG, we understand it and we do our best to give free hand to our people when it comes to how they want to work. At the same time, it seems worth remembering that one loses one or two precious things related to human-to-human interaction while working from home – things difficult to replace. It seems that the hybrid model allows a more balanced approach. Alternatively, if you work fully remotely and have this option, it’s worth considering leaving your house and going to the office every now and then, just for the sake of meeting your colleagues and even changing your working space for a day. As described above, researches show that your mental health is not immune to withdrawing from interaction with others. Remote work requires a lot more proactiveness from your side and it seems that it is not only tasks- and company- but also well-being-related. So… take care of yourself!
IT Career Advisor & Team Building Expert w Rite NRG
In my work, I focus on building relationships. I am a liaison between candidates and companies, listening closely to the needs and expectations of both sides, and then trying to find the perfect match and satisfactory solutions.
In my free time, I like to spend time in nature, biking, or lying on a deckchair with a nice cup of coffee and a good book. My friends and family are an important part of my life – they give me the energy to move forward.