Who knew that a time would come when people would be mandated to work from home? I did not, nevertheless, I have worked from home on and off for the best part of a decade because the nature of my job does not necessarily require the contraption of an office setup.
I have held various job roles over the years but they mean the same thing usually. I am a Writer- whether it was writing several pieces for a magazine as an Assistant Editor or managing a team of writers as an Editor-in-Chief or changing lanes to screenwriting and filmmaking, the basics have essentially remained the same.
How has this shaped me as an individual?
For one thing, it means I am very self-motivated. I do not have the leisure of a team-lead or other colleagues to monitor me so it is up to me to set those goals and ensure I meet them no matter what.
Secondly, I have learned to be super-disciplined. Of course, there are those days that just drag on and all you want to do is clutch the duvet tighter but there are more good days than bad days.
A few pros of working from home are-
Time Management — The ability to manage your time and work at your own pace. Many offices operate a 9–5 work schedule but I find that I do my best work between the hours of 11 -3 pm and 5 pm-midnight or thereabouts.
No Distractions — unless you are the type of person who cannot stay off social media, working from home pretty much keeps you focused on work. You definitely do not have to hear everything that went down in your colleagues’ house over the weekend or engage in other aimless banter.
Multi-tasking — Ever enjoyed a pedicure while clacking away on your keyboard? I have. It definitely doesn’t happen all the time but it adds extra spice when you can tweak your work environment now and then.
Security — Life in any metropolitan city has its highs and lows and being robbed on your way back from work is definitely one of the lowest. I have had a laptop stolen at my workplace so I can relate.
Savings — The commute to and from work can wipe a healthy chunk off our monthly wages not to talk of the sheer manpower wasted while sitting in endless traffic jams. So we save not just money but time and energy.
Great stuff right? Unfortunately, it’s not all good news.
Working from home can create an alarming level of social apathy and disconnection from real people and real issues. After I had worked from home for two years at a stretch my mother complained about my noticeable lack of interest in socializing. This was particularly worrisome because I used to be quite the social butterfly, but I fell into the rut of learning to be by myself for long periods, and it almost overshadowed the rest of my non-work lifestyle.
Working from home can also cause a certain degree of complacency because you are not in direct visual competition with anyone else. There is a real issue with becoming an underachiever if you do not set and abide by daily goals.
Working from home requires a reasonable supply of power depending on the tools required for plying your trade and for us in Nigeria, constant power supply has remained an elusive mystery. My overheads always include a healthy chunk for fuelling a generator.
For people who thrive whilst working in teams, learning to work from home can be a bit of a challenge. The silence can get very loud and the walls may start to seem like they are closing in while productivity might diminish.
How do we combat these? A few tips.
First, set clear goals — for the day and for the week. Write the goals plainly and refer to them often if you start to get distracted or de-motivated.
Secondly, create a workspace, hopefully somewhere outside your bedroom. You finally have a chance to create the workspace of your dreams so make the best of it! Make it an attractive spot and if possible, add some comfy furniture.
Thirdly, put yourself on some sort of reward scheme. If you meet your deadlines by noon, for instance, take a water break, stretch your legs and maybe chat up a few friends/colleagues/family.
Next, remember that work from home is still work.
Clacking away on your laptop interminably is not going to endear you to the rest of your family or whoever is sharing that space with you.
Finally, take stock of your mental health and introduce elements into your day to elevate your mood. If you need to, take a brisk walk, listen to an audio message, do some yoga, watch one episode of The Wire or catch a power nap, do it.
Work is important but your mental health feeds directly into your productivity. If enforced isolation is taking its toll on you in a world plagued by COVID19, please give yourself a personalized pick-me-up. One of my fave pick-me-ups is when my husband calls and asks, “What are you doing today?” My cheeky response is usually, “The same thing I do every day. Try to take over the world.” And yes, that’s what I did today too.