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The Impact of Working From Home

19 November 2020

It seems that whether we like it or not, the idea of “work from home” is here to stay. While certain industries have been spearheading the work-from-home experience, current events have flung the mainstream workforce into the home office mindspace.

Freelancers and internet-based professionals have been touting the favourable conditions that working from home affords them for years. However, these advantages are not necessarily being shared by the masses. At the moment working from home may not be a choice, but in the future it could be.

Should we be jumping at the opportunity?

Before doing that, we should examine the pros and cons associated with this approach and how it applies to our own work lives.

There are some glaringly obvious benefits when it comes to working from home. Firstly, the lack of a commute gives us more time to get ready in the morning, time for a morning jog, or time to hit snooze one, or six more times before getting out of bed. We avoid the frustration of traffic jams and end up saving money that we would normally be spending on transportation costs.

Secondly, we have our own space. We can make it as comfortable as we like, we get to spend more time with the family and we have access to a fully-kitted kitchen! This allows us to save on the costly habit of eating out for lunch or grabbing a coffee on the go.

However, the autonomy, comfort and flexibility can be somewhat of a double-edged sword. There are disadvantages that also come into play. The separation of work- and home-life can become blurred. If we never physically leave the office, then when should we stop working?

One remedy for this is to have a designated office space, working from the bed or the couch will set us up for bad habits. We need to get in the mindset that once we’ve left our designated workspace, we are no longer “in the office”. This could be harder for those who don’t have the benefit of a dedicated workroom, but through creatively creating small barriers, curtains or partitions, we can help focus our psyche for “at work” and “at home” spaces and times.

Another issue is that many work-from-homers report a sense of loneliness and a loss of social connectedness, which can negatively affect performance and commitment to work-related goals. Not being exposed to human interaction and collaboration can be difficult, so what we suggest is opting for phone and video calls whenever possible. Even small social interactions with colleagues can help alleviate feelings of isolation.

It becomes difficult when we are expected to be at a desk for nine hours of the day and emails keep pouring in well after we’ve signed out.

What’s working for many is to stick to a routine; sign-in at a set time, sign-out at a set time, take regular breaks and stay social.

As an aside – experienced work-from-home freelancers are no strangers to coffee shops. While saving money on expensive coffees is great – if that is what it costs to get out of the house and save our sanity, then so be it!

Sanlam Life Insurance is a licensed financial service provider.
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