Picture it: it’s March 2020 and the Pandemic has just begun. You’ve been told to work from home.
It’s initially sort of exciting/terrifying as you go out for your daily walk, watch Tiger King, and learn how to knit. You set up your office space at the end of your bed or at your kitchen table, which you’ve posted a picture of on Instagram. It’s a temporary fix but at least you get unlimited access to your own snacks, and can wear sweatpants all day.
BOOM. It’s 2022. You’re still working from home. You’re still in sweatpants but your desk set-up is probably looking more dishevelled and if anyone schedules another Zoom meeting with you you’re going to scream.
Many companies – having found that their employees could work perfectly well from their own homes – have decided that WFH is here to stay, and have scrapped their previous office contracts.
WFH brought up many issues for the art world: how do you see any of the art works you’re trying to deal with? How do you meet with collectors and artists in a way that feels genuine and productive?
Maybe you’re now facing the prospect of working 40 hours a week from your own home, forever. We’re listing our pros and cons for the Working From Home revolution.
(Also, did you know that the terms “pro” and “con” come from the latin “pro” and “contra” meaning “for” and “against”? No, us neither.)
What do you reckon?
Start a bit early, finish a bit late, move your lunch break around to fit your schedule, have a shower between meetings – the flexibility that comes with WFH and the control you now have over your own diary comes as a massive positive. For many of us, the rigidity of the working day is something we’re more than happy to wave bye-bye to.
Reserving Your Energy
Not needing to slog your way to the office, spend however long getting ready with a full-face of makeup, packing your bags, etc, before work begins, it’s no surprise that many of us feel less tired and drained by the end of the working day. That means you can actually do the things you want to do after work – join that book club, go long-distance running, do an adult colouring book – that you’d previously never found time before because you were too exhausting.
Saved Time and Money on the Commute (and lunch)
Goodbye Commute – see you in Hell! Yes, there are some people who use their commute to meditate, or read a book, or have “me time”, but us? We’re thrilled to see the back of it. Commutes cost – whether it be in fuel for your car or tickets for the bus – and it’s not something that many employers reimburse. Plus, going into the office meant (unless you were particularly organised) buying lunch, or coffees, or snacks throughout the day.
Fewer Interruptions from Co-Workers
If you’re someone who gets on with their co-workers, lucky you! But how often does Chatty Carol interrupt your work flow with a juicy bit of office gossip? And how frequently does Noisy-Chewer Nigel ruin your focus while he chomps into his lunch? Working away from your co-workers can bring back a sense of control and calm to your work day.
While you might have to deal with some attention-pulling noise from your co-workers, working together in an office was helpful for quick decisions getting made and problems getting solved without a 1000-part email chain (or worse, a Zoom meeting) having to happen. Being physically in the same place as each other means you can ask for a minute of someone’s time off-the-cuff to check something, rather than booking in a call a working week in advance.
Loss of Team Spirit
Some people who got their jobs after Spring 2020 have never even met their co-workers. When your only “social” time with your co-workers is your morning meeting, or perhaps a virtual Christmas party, it’s no wonder that you don’t feel particularly attached to them, or loyal to the company.
Blurred Work/Life Boundaries
Wake up in your house, go to work in your house, finish work in your house, try to relax in your house, go to sleep in your house. It’s no wonder it can be a struggle not to finish work late, or do your washing up while you’re on the clock. Without a clear division of “work” and “life”, how are you meant to strike a balance?
More Distractions from Life
So you’ve just sent off that important email, and you notice that the dishwasher hasn’t been loaded, or that you haven’t ironed your clothes in a while, or that there’s a small stain in the carpet that you could get out now if you just mixed together some vinegar and some… home life can be distracting. Working from an office means you can truly focus on your work, and the washing up can wait until you get home.
Author: Verity Babbs