‘Oh you work from home, you must have so much time to drink coffee and relax.”
How many times have you wanted to kick people in the shins when they make those kind of comments after finding out you have a home office? The unfortunate reality is that you make time for coffee to keep you awake after working an 18 hour day.
While a flexible working environment certainly has its benefits, it also has its major disadvantages too. The biggest one is that you are always on. Because you are not walking out of a workplace and closing the door on the end of your day, the day ends up stretching into the evening and the night. This cuts into precious downtime and family time.
The Idea of Flexible Working
Flexible working policies have come about because of a real need. Society is changing and sometimes being confined to an office block from 9 to 5 every day is just not practical.
Many things have affected the implementation of flexible working policies. Traffic conditions, family commitments, fluctuating work levels and cost of employment. This has seen a rise in part time work, job sharing, time off work to look after the children, limiting email communication to ‘office hours’ and shorter working days.
As with anything new, there are some definite teething problems with the idea of flexible working. A lot of the problems depend on the individual in question. Some go above and beyond expectations, working themselves to the bone. Whereas others use it as an opportunity to skive off. Trust is a real factor in whether or not flexible working is viable at your business.
The Negatives of a Flexible Working Environment
If you regularly work from home, then chances are you work in isolation. You spend the majority of your days completely alone. This removes you from social networks and some opportunity for career advancement simply by not being in the office.
Because there is no one else around, you often don’t stop for proper breaks and immerse yourself completely in your work.
In the office you would have a proper desk setup – a proper desk, chair and computer system designed especially for a full day at work. While at home, you are likely to be sitting on the couch with your laptop, or propping on the the end of your dining room table. This puts you at risk of injury and body strains as your workspace is not properly geared for purpose.
It can also be really hard to distinguish between work and home life. The lines blur and you end up doing work activities in down time, and household chores during work time. This can cause significant levels of stress.
When you don’t have the boundaries of a distinct working space then quite often you will pick at work all day and all night. That means that you never get the opportunity to switch off. You will always be worrying about the next task, what response you will get from an email, or if you will close that important sale.
That constant worrying leads to stress. It also means that you won’t be sleeping as well and your body will not have the time it needs to recharge. This can lead to a compromised immune system and a greater chance of getting sick.
When you are constantly working and worrying, you are short on time so other things get sacrificed. Exercise goes out the window, and healthy meal prep takes too long so you opt for convenient options that are processed and lack in nutrition.
How Can I Fix It?
If you are in a flexible working situation then you will need to be strict with yourself. You will need to designate a certain area in your home for your workspace and then allocate working hours. Be disciplined and stick to them. If you were working in an office building, you wouldn’t be rushing there to answer an email at 11pm. So there is no reason to do that at home.
You can make a flexible working arrangement work for you, as long as you establish some rules and stick to them!