During one of his regular check-ins with me, my boss kindly asked me to work from home for an indefinite amount of time. We were supposed to move into a new building. But due to unforeseeable delays, we needed to clear our offices in use before the new site was completed.
Some of my colleagues deemed this the ultimate flexibility they had long been waiting for. But to me, the unplanned and short-notice WFH opportunity was fraught with significant challenges. Working productively, in the beginning, was mission impossible. Neither was a separable space nor the required internet service reliably available. Overcoming those difficulties and learning to cope with non-work-related distractions took time, effort, and patience.
Today, a few years later, with the Coronavirus still raging, millions of employees have been sent home under much more severe conditions. WFH, which was supposed to grant people more autonomy in the past, has become a constraint for many.
Organizations and managers have to be aware that not everybody has the luxury of a designated home office. The lack of a quiet space makes people exposed to many disruptions. No wonder that images with people working at kitchen tables with kids and pets around are piling up on social media. It leads to the fact that the demarcation lines between private and occupational life have become blurred. We tend to smile and laugh about anecdotes of people being caught in PJs during a conference call, only until a similar mishap strikes us.
In this article and video, we focus on the employee working from home and the basic best practices that help them to work productively, with minimizing the potential stress. A follow-up article will address the challenges team leaders face to meet their people’s basic needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.