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The Art and Science of Working from Home

Updated: Sep 9, 2023



Introduction

Two decades ago, my journey into working from home began quite unexpectedly. I came home one day to find my houseworker ready to leave, citing her mother's illness. With two very young children and no immediate replacement for childcare, I decided to work from home. Providentially, I had a desktop and Internet connectivity at home. Now, in the post-COVID-19 world, I find myself asking: How do people manage not to work from home?


The Upsides: Why Working from Home Could be Your Next Best Move

(Note: While some of these benefits are widely realised, others might be more potential than guaranteed, depending on your work type, schedule, and how you manage your day.)

  • Freedom and Control:Working from home offers a liberating sense of freedom, especially for women. It allows you to be present for your children while also focusing on work.

  • Time and Mental Energy: Skipping the daily commute saves time and conserves mental energy, which you can use for things that truly matter.

  • Increased Productivity: A Stanford University study revealed that remote workers are 13% more productive than those in offices.

  • Better Work-Life Balance: The flexibility of working from home gives you a chance to create a work-life balance that suits you. However, this balance is dependent on how well you manage your work schedule.

  • Your Workspace, Your Rules: Having control over your workspace means you can set it up to suit your individual needs. This can significantly boost productivity and well-being.

  • Cost Savings: Working from home eliminates commuting costs and the expense of daily lunches out. These savings can add up over time, providing financial relief.

  • Flexibility: The ability to set your own hours is one of the most enticing aspects of remote work. However, this flexibility can be a double-edged sword if not managed carefully.

  • Reduced Stress: Without the daily grind of commuting and office politics, stress levels can potentially be lower. However, this benefit largely depends on how well you draw boundaries between 'work time' “family time” and 'me time.


The Downsides: Not All Roses and Rainbows

  • Blurred Boundaries:Working from home can blur the lines between your professional and domestic roles, leading to extended work hours that infringe on personal time.

  • Role Confusion: Without a distinct workspace at home, you might find yourself questioning if you are in 'parent' mode or 'work' mode, causing stress and tension.

  • Feeling Isolated: The absence of social interaction with colleagues can lead to a sense of isolation, which might affect your mental well-being.

  • Lack of Structure:Without the usual office routine, you could find yourself drifting aimlessly through tasks, affecting your productivity.

  • Distractions: From kids to household chores, distractions are abundant when working from home, and they can easily derail your focus.

  • Tech Challenges: When you work from home, you are responsible for your own technology. Poor internet, software and hardware issues can disrupt your workflow and lead to frustration.

  • Power Outages: In many developing countries, unreliable electricity supply can severely hamper your ability to meet deadlines and maintain productivity.

  • Privacy Concerns: Without a dedicated room to serve as an office, maintaining privacy can become challenging. This lack of private space could jeopardize confidential work and put your professional responsibilities at risk.

  • The Supermom Syndrome: While juggling work and home life might make you appear as a supermom to your children, it can set unrealistic expectations. They may not fully grasp the complexities and stresses of balancing multiple roles, potentially leading to undue pressure on you in the long term. Read more: Breaking the 'Super Woman' Illusion – Embracing Expectations, Realities, and Authenticity


Two Decades of Wisdom: Best Practices for Working from Home

From my journey spanning over two decades of working from home, the cardinal rule is clear: setting boundaries is crucial. Define your work hours and commit to them. Similarly, establish a workspace that's a no-go zone for domestic distractions. Make sure to communicate these boundaries to your family, to maintain a harmonious balance between your professional and personal lives.


🏠Dedicated Workspace:A designated area for work can make a world of difference. Keep it free from household interferences to maintain focus.

🪑Comfort Matters: Invest in comfortable furniture and good lighting. Your back and eyes will thank you later.

Time Management: A well-defined schedule is a must. Make it known to your family and friends, so they too respect your work commitments.

⏲️ Scheduled Breaks: Use a timer to remind yourself to take short breaks. Whether it's a quick grounding exercise or a flight of stairs, keep moving.

🍽️Family Meals: Make it a point to have regular meals with your family, away from your workspace. It's both refreshing and important for family bonds.

🌙Peak Productivity and Flexibility: The flexibility of working from home lets you choose your most productive hours for tackling challenging tasks. For me, this golden period is nighttime, allowing for a work-life balance tailored to my individual needs.

☎️Stay Connected: Regular check-ins with friends, family, and colleagues are essential for mental well-being. Do not underestimate the power of a simple 'how are you?

🛎️Mindful Work Hours: Starting work early due to saved commute time can lead to unintentional overwork. Set a specific alarm to mark the end of your official workday, helping to maintain a healthier work-life balance.

🏡 Space Planning: If you are fortunate enough to be in the planning stages of your home, consider incorporating a dedicated office space into the design. If that is not an option, then when house-hunting, look for spaces that can be easily transformed into a functional work area. It can make a considerable difference in creating a comfortably productive work-from-home experience.


Additional Best Practices for Developing Countries

Working from home comes with its own set of challenges, and these can be amplified when residing in a developing country. Issues such as unstable internet connections and frequent power outages can disrupt the work flow. Here are a couple of best practices to mitigate these challenges:


🌐 Invest in the Best Internet Service: In places where internet stability is a concern, opt for the best service provider available. If Wi-Fi is slow, consider upgrading to a fibre connection. And to counter intermittent internet service, it is wise to have a standby provider as well.

Prepare for Power Outages: In regions prone to power disruptions, an efficient solar system can be a lifesaver. Although the initial investment is high, it ensures that your desktop and internet stay operational. Alternatively, a generator can also serve the purpose, though do bear in mind that the recurrent fuel costs can be high.


Implementing these best practices can be particularly empowering for women, offering them the tools to negotiate their multiple roles effectively, from professional responsibilities to family commitments, all while upholding their own well-being.


Concluding Reflections: The Heart of Working from Home

The journey of working from home is an evolving one that needs ongoing adjustments. These reflections aim to distill the essence of the benefits, drawbacks, and best practices into actionable insights for those considering or already committed to the work-from-home lifestyle.

  • Insight 1: Working from home has the power to uplift, especially for women.

  • Insight 2: This upliftment is not automatic; it comes from using smart strategies that are good for both your job and your personal life.

  • Insight 3: The key to a rewarding work-from-home experience lies in constant adjustments to maintain a balance between professional responsibilities and personal well-being.


Join the Conversation!

This conversation on working from home is open to everyone and is a critical part of a broader discussion on creating a balanced life. By sharing our unique experiences and perspectives, we can collectively work towards a harmonious integration of our professional and personal lives.

  • Share Your Story: Have you or someone you know found unique benefits or challenges in working from home? What steps have you taken to balance work and home life?

  • Take Action: What is one action you could take right now to improve your work-from-home life? Share your thoughts, and let us inspire each other to take action.

  • Fuel the Discussion:Got questions or need advice? Your curiosity sparks meaningful dialogue. Let's problem-solve together.

  • Build Community: Join the dialogue, share your views, and let's build a community through shared experiences and wisdom.

  • Be Respectful: Let us keep our discussion respectful and inclusive. Every voice counts, and your empathy enriches us all. For more on this, please see our commenting guidelines.

  • Spread the Word: If this topic speaks to you, feel free to share this post to spread the awareness, and be a part of the change.


About the Author Nite Tanzarn is an Independent International Consultant with a distinguished reputation for her relentless efforts in championing gender equality and women's rights. In her latest blog post, she explores the complexities and opportunities of working from home. Nite's writing style is both accessible and thought-provoking, reflecting her unwavering commitment to social justice and the upliftment of women worldwide.


Nite is not just a thought leader but also an action taker. Her consultancy work spans sectors like transport, agriculture, and rural development. Through her impactful work, Nite aims to galvanise collective action for a balanced and equitable future for all.

42 views17 comments

17 Comments


Guest
Nov 05, 2023

One of the dangers of working from home is that you can let yourself go. During Covid, I never bothered to change from my night gown

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Guest
Oct 28, 2023

Are we romanticizing working from home? I think there are more drawbacks than benefits/

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 28, 2023
Replying to

You bring up an excellent point. Working from home certainly has its pros and cons, and it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. While some people thrive in a home office environment, others find it challenging for various reasons, such as distractions or a lack of a structured workday. The objective of the blog post is to explore both sides and offer insights that could make the experience more manageable for those who are new to it or are considering it. Thank you for adding a nuanced perspective to this topic.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #WorkingFromHome #FeministWorkEthic

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Guest
Oct 27, 2023

I would love to work from home and avoid the commuting but I simply can't concentrate. I wonder how others do it?

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 27, 2023
Replying to

Your concern about concentration is one that many people share when considering the work-from-home setup. Transitioning from an office environment to a home setting does require a mental shift, and it's not always smooth sailing for everyone.

It might be helpful to create a designated workspace to mimic the office environment. This helps train your brain to switch into "work mode" once you enter that space. Also, setting boundaries with family or housemates can significantly reduce distractions.

Various techniques like the Pomodoro Technique can help you manage your time effectively. It involves working in short bursts with breaks in between, which could help you maintain focus.

Each individual has a different approach to productivity; it's all about finding what works…

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Guest
Oct 25, 2023

If you have the opportunity to work from home, grab it especially if you have young children.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 25, 2023
Replying to

Working from home can indeed be a golden opportunity for those who have young children. It allows for a more flexible schedule, eliminating the commute time and providing more moments to be present with your family. Being around for those crucial milestones, or simply having the time for an impromptu cuddle or story, can be priceless.

However, it's important to remember that working from home also comes with its own set of challenges such as distractions, the difficulty of separating work from personal life, and the potential for isolation. Yet, for many, the advantages far outweigh the challenges, particularly when young children are involved. Planning and setting boundaries can help navigate most of these hurdles, making the work-from-home setup a…

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Guest
Oct 18, 2023

working from can easily end up in a triple working day for women. Take care of the kids as you work during day, then perform other household chores after 5

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 18, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for highlighting an important aspect of the work-from-home arrangement. You're absolutely correct that the flexibility can often morph into an extended workday for women, exacerbating the 'double burden' of professional and domestic responsibilities. It's crucial to set boundaries and advocate for a more equitable distribution of household tasks to ensure that work-from-home does not translate to work-all-the-time for women.

Cheers,

Nite,

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #WorkingFromHome #HomeWorking #DoubleBurden #TimePoverty

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