A Blog series by Elise Misse

Blog #6

Working from Home is the Future, Not a Fad

The global rise of COVID-19 has seen home working become standardised. Don’t think of this as an emergency measure. See it as an opportunity to change the way we schedule our work-life balance.

Coronavirus is the one word on everybody’s lips right now. Across the world, people from all walks of life are battening down the hatches to protect themselves – and, more importantly, vulnerable loved ones – from the impact of this contagious virus.

One of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 has been to the workplace. Where possible, people are being ordered to work from home. This is causing considerably consternation, as people adjust to a new world order. I can sympathise and relate. I have three young children, and they are quite understandably anxious about events unfolding outside their window. With them at home, my professional and personal life has become increasingly entwined.

With my husband and I both working from home at present, it’s been an eye-opening experience. Setting up technology and – theoretically – getting work done is not our primary concern. Ultimately, professional people will always find a way to meet their commitments. Where the challenges lie is within managing the multiple facets of home working and traditional home life.

Let’s be clear – those of us that working from home are fortunate, in many respects. We have an opportunity denied to many. The staff members out there on the front line – stocking shelves, making deliveries and aiding the sick – would presumably love the opportunity to type some words at their home desks. Let’s not pretend that home working is the greatest challenge facing the world during this global pandemic.

Despite that, it is a challenge. There is no magic formula for working from home, “the right way.” There are certain rules that you should follow, though. The most important of these is ensuring that you do not fall into a time-sucking vortex, wasting precious hours searching for solutions that continue to evade you. Take the time to prioritise your workload, doing what you can to avoid deviating from a schedule (though, obviously, this is not always possible!)

Another key rule during this time is that none of us take on too much, and that we share the load of duties equally amongst us. If you have children, you will be expected to home school them to some extent during this crisis – in addition to taking the time to tend to their physical and emotional wellbeing.

Ensure that household duties are shared equally among all members of your home. That means that it’s time for the men in our lives to step up. This is no time to rely on outdated stereotypes – of Mum taking care of the house and children, and Dad bringing in the money to meet financial commitments. We all need to roll up our sleeves and do our part. This, more than ever, is a time to forge an unbreakable team spirit with your partner and children.

However, it should be noted that working from home also comes with a handful of advantages. The initial period of adjustment can be challenging. It’s a lot of effort to ensure that work-life balance does not slip or suffer too far toward professional commitments. Some of the benefits of home working, however, include:

  • It’s amazing how many office-based distractions are avoided when working from home. No phones ringing off the hook, no colleagues passing by and asking for, “a quick word”, no nagging administrative tasks that you’ve been putting off.
  • Not commuting will potentially restore hours to your day. At worst, traveling to and from work is time wasted. At best, its time spent attempting to work in less-than-ideal circumstances, such as typing on a cramped train carriage.
  • For those of us that balance working commitment with family time, it’s suddenly considerably easier. Yes, strict boundaries must be put in place. All the same, it’s a welcome opportunity to unite two worlds. We can be here for our children during the most testing period of their young lives.

This is important to note, because it looks increasingly likely that the current state of play is not a temporary aberration. We will all potentially be working from home for the foreseeable future, and there is a very real possibility that the traditional, “nine to five” working week is dead. If that’s the case, I’ll be the first to dance on its grave.

Like many working parents, the rigid confines of this working pattern have long caused challenges. This new, fluid and dynamic manner of doing business remotely has the potential to be considerably more beneficial.

We need senior figures in our businesses to understand the challenges of working and parenting, but this is an opportunity to do just that. In essence, we have the opportunity to remould the corporate landscape. Call me an irredeemable optimist, but I honestly think that, if we all pull together and show our mettle, we can do just that.

My thoughts are with anybody impacted by Coronavirus, and I sincerely hope that anybody reading this rides out this storm, with their family and loved ones remaining safe. I will say this, though – these trying circumstances give us all, employees and employers alike, the opportunity to trial a new way of working.

Dare I call this a better way of working? Flexibility in the workplace has rarely been so important, and this could be an opportunity to prove that we can make elasticity in scheduling work for us. Let’s try to gain something positive from what has been in an undeniably negative experience for the entire human race.

Key Takeaways

  • Find a quiet place to work, and time how long it takes you to complete tasks. You may be astonished at how much more efficient you are without all the distractions of the workplace!
  • Make use of the flexibility afforded by home working. Meet your workplace commitments but find time to live your life in between.
  • Don’t panic about what you cannot do – focus on getting what you can done.
  • Show your employers that working from home is a realistic and beneficial approach. Coronavirus will not be around forever. Play our cards right, however, and working from home could become a permanent fixture.

About LEAD Network Europe

The LEAD Network Europe is a non-profit and volunteer-led organisation whose mission is to attract, retain, and advance women in the consumer products and retail sector in Europe through education, leadership, and business development. The LEAD Network is run by and for its members, women and men, and we value every individual for their unique perspective. With a primary focus on promoting gender equality the organisation strives for the advancement of women of every race, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, educational background, national origin, religion, physical ability and lifestyle. Its vision is of a fair, diverse and vibrant industry where everyone can thrive. A diverse workforce where both men and women are enabled to contribute their full potential and lead their organisations to the next level of value creation. LEAD Network accounts for 18,000+ members – both women and men – from 81 countries.

For more information, please visit www.lead-eu.net