Like anything new, some people have loved it, some people have hated it, and some people have tolerated it – but working from home may be a feature of business for some time.
I have received quite a few calls recently from people wanting to know how to cope with the difficulties and frustrations that have arisen from their new “home office”. Some of these issues include:
- Putting on weight because the fridge and pantry are too near.
- Neck, back and leg tiredness because they are spending more time in one position than they do at their employer’s workplace.
- Internet speed and bandwidth being insufficient for video, sound and downloads while other family members try to access the internet.
- Other people working at home not using headsets. Some people have reported feeling as though they’re listening to a soap opera half the day!
- Family members speaking too loudly on the phone, or walking around and talking without understanding they are disturbing everybody else.
- Partners/spouses hearing work conversations, then asking questions about things that don’t concern them or offering unsolicited opinions.
- Watching people eat during Zoom calls. It is called Zoom for a reason, and it often zooms in on the face of the person eating!
Other complaints I’ve heard include:
- “I can’t vacuum the house because he says it’s too noisy.”
- “I can’t cook dinner at 6 o’clock because she has a work call with clients overseas at that time every evening.”
- “The house is a mess; there are papers and cables everywhere.”
- “I get no breaks – I used to be able to walk to the coffee shop to get away from the office in the morning.”
- “I feel like I have to work at night because I can’t get all the work done during the day.”
- “I see work everywhere I turn in my own home.”
- “I can’t experience the joy of a weekend off, as everywhere I go, I see reminders of work.” (Retirees often say the problem with retirement is that you never get a weekend off!)
Fair Work Australia and each state’s workplace health and safety authority have regulations regarding what should happen when people work at home. Outside of statutory obligations, I encourage every manager and business owner to:
- Get employees to send them a wide-angled picture of their home workspace.
- Pay for additional internet speed and bandwidth for workers, so they and their families can coexist while using technology.
- Send employees a surprise gift to acknowledge the difficulties they are experiencing while working from home.
- Don’t assume that everything is fine just because they’re not complaining (some people I know are looking for new jobs because of work-at-home pressures).
- Engage an occupational therapist (OT) to check out the employees’ home work environment (they can do this remotely using Facetime, Zoom or Coviu).
If you need help navigating the “new normal” of working from home, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.