Are YOU still living at work? Oh, sorry, I meant are you still Working From Home (WFH)?
Can you remember the novelty of 2020 when we were all forced into lockdown and the new workplace revolution kicked into life?
Our kitchens, spare bedrooms, garden sheds and any other random space we wanted to designate as the ‘new office’ took shape.
We discovered the world of Zoom backdrops, and business casual suddenly only counted from the waist up.
So, three years later how are we all doing? Still loving the ‘freedom’ offered by the new work age? Not missing that onerous commute? Still not sure how tall those new work colleagues you’ve only connected with through your laptop screen truly are?
With few businesses returning to full workplace capacity, it appears the vast majority of the global office workforce are either fully WFH or just pitching up for the odd day a week in the office.
But how have our lives been affected? Some love it, and (of course) some hate it. I imagine it depends on your status.
I know many single people for whom the workplace is their ‘vibe’. It’s where they truly get to interact with other human beings. It’s where they love to be and where they thrive on the energy of the team environment. For them, lockdown and the whole WFH episode was purgatory.
I also know many parents who long for the office to escape the kids – yes, they love them and all that, but 24/7? No one deserves that. I also know that if there had been lockdown when, as an only child, I had been stuck in the house as a teenager around the clock with my parents, there would likely have been a death in the family.
And what of the WFM enthusiasts?
To anyone who claims to ‘just love it’ I like to ask – why?
The most common response I get is how they love not having to commute to the office every day.
But how many hours a week did that take up? On average I have found it is around an hour each way, which creates ten hours of extra time a week per person – I can certainly see the benefits of that.
So, what are you doing with all that extra time? More playing with the kids? More yoga? More time in the garden? More time at the gym? More time reading? The dog must be knackered with all those extra walks.
Er, no – pretty much everyone I talk to seems to be doing ten hours more work every week.
So, that means you are getting paid more – right? I mean the company are saving money not having to pay so much to maintain the office every day – no? Hmmmmm.
And of course, working from home means you can control your time much more efficiently because your boss is not going to wander into your office with another ‘epiphany‘ leading to more mission creep.
And all you have to do is close the laptop at 5:00PM and not be bothered until the following morning.
But wait – didn’t you have to sort some stuff out with the kids this afternoon. Or maybe you snuck out to get groceries for an hour this morning, and so you feel obliged to make amends this evening – just for an hour (or two or three).
And while you are drafting that contract, an email from the boss pops up, and well, you know, you are a responsible employee, so you reply and – GOTCHA, the boss knows you are online – here comes more mission creep.
You end up working long into the evening, so the time between logging off and getting to sleep gets ever shorter, meaning you take work into your dreams, which is never going to deliver a settled night of bliss and relaxation, resulting in an edgy start to the next day (but at least you don’t have to commute – no, you start work at the time you used to leave the house ….. wait – what?).
So, are YOU still living at work?
Paul Weston is a Time Freedom Coach.
He works with teams and individuals to help them spend more time doing activities they enjoy with the people they love