So, you’ve discovered working from home is the bliss you deserve. Maybe you haven’t and you can’t wait to get back to the bustling office, that’s fine, but before you dismiss this article, maybe check out some of the benefits to working from home further down. For the rest of you, you don’t need convincing, it’s time to get über millennial and add working from home to your long list of unearned entitlements, nestled somewhere between the fundamental right to avocado toast and the right to wear dungarees as a full-grown adult.
Thing is, I’m willing to bet the vast majority of you are doing it wrong. You’re using this time to lounge around in the garden, get up late, go for walks, all the while your lonely work laptop is open simply so you can be seen as ‘available’. Not to mention you are barely sober for some of those Zoom calls. That’s right, I see you.
Instead, you should be working your ass off, because working from home doesn’t just have to be a feature of a global pandemic, it can and should be for life.
Convince your boss
I am going to draw a little here from the ever-wise Tim Ferris, who has dedicated a huge chunk of “The 4-Hour Work Week” to helping convince your boss to let you work from home. I highly recommend the book and he breaks down the steps to almost an instructional guide. Thing is, we can already skip a bunch of those steps because you’re already working from home right now.
Don’t slack off, work harder
If you slack off in this time, however sneaky or guilesome as you think you are, I am willing to bet your boss has noticed the drop off in productivity. In fact, your boss is probably doing the exact same things and is wise to your deceptions. Right now, you’re not making a great business case for working from home in future.
I get it, we’re all human and the current good weather doesn’t help. In the short-term it is amazing to slack off a bit, enjoy the sun, spend extra time with loved ones and perhaps even work on other goals such as going for some runs. It is a genuine treat and all the temptations are there to draw you away from longer term goals. What if I told you though, you could have all those things forever? You’d bite my hand off for the opportunity, right?
Well, you have that opportunity right now. The only way you’re going to satisfactorily convince your boss that you should be working from home, is by working harder than you’ve ever worked before. Even working the same isn’t enough, it’s not a strong enough case and the most cynical of bosses won’t be convinced. Your boss needs to believe homeworking has unlocked some ravenous force from within you that can’t be stopped (in some ways, that will be true). No, you need to absolutely nail it, in the here and now, to unlock a future of working in your PJ’s.
You thought the ‘online’ or ‘available’ light on your company chat client was fooling everyone didn’t you? I once had a friend who spent company time making a gadget just to move his mouse to keep his computer from going to screen saver all so his ‘online’ light would stay on and he could slack off (software downloads were prohibited). Not to mention Homer Simpson setting the tone with his ingenious ‘yes bird’. You can bet bosses are assuming right now you’re willing to go to similar lengths to avoid work. You know how they know? It’s a bit like how your parents have an intuition for this stuff; once upon a time, as hard as it is to imagine, your bosses were once in the exact same position. They know all too well the temptations pulling on you.
Put simply, the light isn’t enough. You need to be visible in the work you do. You need to ask questions, set up calls, share your work and get input from others. Become a hive of activity. Because of all these lines of inquiry, your work is also much more likely to be of better quality and more in line with what your boss was expecting. This kind of active communication can be applicable more generally at work anyway, notably if you’d like to be promoted faster, but it’s particularly useful right now while we’re further apart. It’s especially true if everyone else is idle or quiet, you’re going to look like a titan amongst mortals. Us millennials are famous for hating to pick up the phone (eww), so it’s an easy way to be better than your colleagues, just give the boss a ring.
Sell your boss on the benefits
Don’t do all of this and then expect your boss to turn around and say “hey, you know what, you should work from home more!” That ain’t gonna happen, as much as we’d like it to. Although, getting your boss to think it was their idea is a sure-fire way to get what you want. You need to do the last bit of leg work and make the business case to them directly.
Most of this is easy. The employer benefits seem to be all but a proven fact and the sales pitches and articles for this kind of thing are abound on t’internet. “Do you realise how much the company could save, in air conditioning alone, by letting everyone work from home on a Friday?” etc etc. Unfortunately, I neither know your situation nor do I have the wordcount to explore that part with you today. The hardest bit though, we’ve already done above which is convincing them you’re trustworthy enough, productive enough and easy enough to communicate with when you work from home. Those seem to be the main barriers.
Maybe, at least for the near future, working from home five days a week isn’t feasible for you but is one day a week? Two? Three? Wouldn’t that still improve your life? It’s up to you now, to grab the horns of opportunity and carve a new and exciting path for yourself.
Why do I even want to work from home?
To be frank, you’re going to have to fill in some of the blanks here yourself. Everyone’s needs, wants and desires are different and that means the benefits of working from home are almost infinite and personal. Perhaps, for example, you’re thinking to yourself “but Cam, I enjoy the human contact of the office.” That’s great! Me too. Although, I can promise you spending two hours of quality face time with friends in the pub is a million times more satisfying and more meaningful than a full week of interactions at the office. You can do it every day if you wish with the time you save, it’s miles better than brief interactions over the copier. Although I’d recommend switching the pub out for the park or a café once in a while.
For me, on Fridays I like to wake up early, finish my work and by mid-afternoon I can hit the golf course with friends. Isn’t that a much better way to spend time with people I like? Those of you who’re reluctant to give up the office, I’d like to challenge you to think of why you like the office/workplace and how you might get the same effect or better from being remote. For those who still stubbornly believe, are the benefits you get really worth it for the vast downsides?
For you, it may be being able to work from the countryside instead of a city will drastically improve your life. Maybe it’s being able to work from 6am-2pm, there’s so much more time for activities! (Bonus points if you get the reference.)
There are two somewhat obvious reasons though that’re worth going into detail on.
Right off the bat, there’s the easy ones. Got a commute that’s 30mins each way? (don’t forget to include all the ‘getting ready’ time etc). Bada-bing, bada-boom! That’s now gone and you just reclaimed an hour of time, more if you’re from London! You can spend that hour however you want; basking in the sun, pumping iron in the gym or watching ASMR videos of people eating noodles. I really don’t care. The best part is, the rest of your day is no different, you’re still doing 8 hours of work and you’re still relaxing to trash TV in the evening. Simples.
Then there’s the more nuanced time savings. How much are you distracted in the office? How often does Barbara derail your day by stretching out a two-minute benign story into a half-hour epic? Even the background noise can limit your effectiveness, all the more for open plan offices. How often are you slow or even pretending to work because you’re tired or brain dead? How often do you escape into your phone for a little bit? If you were to work in silence and without distraction, what you normally do in eight hours you could nail in four. It takes discipline, self-motivation and some time to practice, but you can literally shave your work time in half and produce the same output. Your reward? 4–6hours of reclaimed time. Just take that in for a second. It’s the exact same reasoning behind Finland cutting down to a four-day week. As you are obviously greatly inspired by this article, you can start practicing these skills today (but finish the article fist and give it some claps, obvs).
On a simpler level, I find it’s all just more pleasant. Some of the time I save from commuting I use to make a breakfast smoothie and sit and watch the news for ten minutes… okay, it’s not the news, it’s SpongeBob. Regardless I don’t have to run out the door to get to work on time. My time is truly my own. If I wish I could sit there for a whole half hour. The rat race is gone and is replaced by an entirely more rational existence. It’s hard to put a price on better peace of mind and mental health.
Yet, there is a price we can put on going to work. I’m going to pick the low hanging fruit here and mention commuting again. However you slice it, fuel, train tickets, bus passes, it usually costs money to get to work. Although to a much less degree, even your bike, maintenance of it and cycle gear are cost factors if you’re able to cycle to work. I don’t know how on top of your personal accounting you are but even a £2.50 daily return bus fare adds up to £652.50 over the course of the year. This analysis suggests you most likely spend way more (their averages include walkers and cyclists). To put that in perspective, that’s an all-inclusive holiday to Turkey.
How much do you spend on rent to be closer to work? Live further out and add that to savings. Do you buy lunch at work? Coffee or vending machine drinks? Snacks on the way home? Add those. What about work clothes? Will you have less laundry (yes, you will)? Add those. With a lazy glance at Google, most places seem to estimate cost savings in the thousands for the average worker.
When working from home means you can now afford two holidays a year, payments on a new car or the “Gamerchick 3000” deluxe gaming chair, is all that starting to sound like something you can get on board with?
You can even level this up by working remotely in a country with a lower cost of living. You could be earning GBP working for a British company and be living in Jamaica sipping on a fresh coconut, none of that supermarket trash for you! Now you’re rolling in it, with a better quality of life and the only change you made was being able to work remotely.
There’s a real opportunity here to improve your life. Don’t squander it.
In some ways, having the discipline to work from home without supervision can be hard, and bosses know it. I have spoken about that in my previous article about working from home, and given some tips on being productive. However, once mastered, working from home shouldn’t have to be a luxury reserved for the self-employed entrepreneur. The current pandemic is hopefully going to change the way we work in the longer term and I personally welcome a working from home revolution. I’d like to see offices replaced with more open areas, meeting spaces, cafes, less commuter traffic and a cleaner, healthier way of living.
Offices are the old way, Vive Le Couch!
Before I get messages, I’d like to say obviously some people can’t work from home (currently). People like brain surgeons for example(at least, I assume it’d be illegal to perform operations on your dining room table?). I also understand some people are furloughed or fired precisely because they’re unable to work remotely. This article isn’t really for them, or at least right now I don’t expect it will be particularly useful. However, I hope it is of use one day in better circumstances and I will maintain even in some jobs where it seems impossible, there is some opportunity to at least ‘get the paperwork done’ at home, or time allocated for learning can be done remotely. Any change to improve people’s lives should be taken.
Did this article resonate with you? Or perhaps I should stop writing immediately and go to hell! Either way, let me know! Be sure to give this article plenty of claps if you enjoyed it or get in touch with me via the contact form on my website.
This article was written by Cameron Readman. If you’d like to know more or receive notifications for future articles, please head over to the Website and subscribe at the bottom of the page!