It’s around 15 years since I ran my first workshops on remote working and “Managing remote workers”. The company was looking into how it could cut office costs, but the Managing Director and others on the board were nervous about letting people work from home.
They wanted to know how they could move to remote working and still trust their staff to do their work. They were also concerned about how to manage performance and productivity when they couldn’t see staff at their desks. There were no questions then about their staff’s work life balance in those days.
I also wrote about this subject quite a lot over the following years, and the only “balance” thought about was my often-quoted example of a guy who spent his working week sitting on his staircase, balancing a laptop on his knees which is mentioned in the blog link below.
Remote working: food for thought or recipe for disaster
Working from home was supposed to be all about flexibility, wasn’t it? We used to encourage managers to worry less about when the work was done, as long as it was done within the agreed deadline. Remote working had a big part to play in achieving a better work life balance.
The world has changed, hasn’t it? Most of us have had no choice in where we work. Remote working is the norm for many. And there has probably been more written about the topic in the last year than ever before. Some people love it and others hate it and can’t wait to get back to the office.
One reason for disliking working from home is the relentless flood of meetings, email and information that it has brought.
I’m seeing the physical and mental health impact of back to back Teams calls and expectations of long days every day in many of my clients (and living it myself, most days). We are all having more meetings, not fewer, and the expectation of instant responses to emails and messages is greater than ever.
Add to that the challenge of home-schooling, several family members sharing the same space and internet connection and the dream of a good work life balance that working from home conjures up has been shattered for many.
But the conversation is changing – from how/whether leaders “trust” home workers to how those staff keep a healthy work life balance.
Whatever the future of work is for people, whether home/office based or a mix, we need to consider how to regain some balance.
How are you planning to restore that balance in your company or job?