It was mid-March two years ago when a large portion of the American workforce began to work from home exclusively due to the pandemic. We are now two years down the road and many of us are still operating in the same work-from-home environment. This begs the question of what does the workforce prefer—in office or working from home? Based on the hundreds of LinkedIn polls people post, you could begin to figure that workforce is rather split on this issue. Many enjoy working physically in an office while a great number enjoys the freedom to work from their home offices. Realistically, there is another category of folks who enjoy a hybrid model, where they get to work from home most days, and go into an office a couple days a week or when required for certain events.
We were in Pittsburgh for a supply chain event with Duquesne University and had the opportunity to listen to a speaker, Jacob Hince, discuss working from home. Mr. Hince made some great points to students about how to work from home effectively and discussed how many jobs are shifting toward a more work-from-home environment outside of the pandemic. One of the major reasons for companies making this shift is due to cultural changes resulting from the younger generations. Many, of all generations, value not spending hours a year commuting, saving money, living more sustainably, and gaining extra time with family or friends.
One of the main points the speaker made was to truly be the master of your own schedule and ensure that you are planning accordingly to make time to get your work done outside of the many meetings added to your calendar. In the work-from-home environment, many folks schedule half-hour or hour-long meetings for something that may have been a quick conversation at your desk. This means your calendar gets filled up very quickly and there is a need to occasionally block time for particular activities.
Much of working from home effectively revolves around one main detail—discipline. It is important to prepare for meetings as you would in the office. It is critical that you are communicating effectively without losing the personal touch of in-person interactions. Employees need to act intentionally to maintain those connections with their coworkers and balancing personal conversations with work conversations that help unite a work group.
Finally, I personally find it extremely important to establish boundaries when operating in a work-from-home setting. I can say that I have been at fault for poor boundaries in the past because it was very easy to keep up with late-night emails when your computer might be just a few feet away. To the same extent, it is a two-way street. There needs to be time dedicated specifically to work and your working hours should be maintained. That does not mean you need to put aside the freedom of working from home. If flexible work hours or arrangements are permitted by your organization, you should be able to work however you want as long as everything is getting completed and you are communicating effectively.
What tips do you have for an effective work from home environment? Let us know in the comments!