After what has been an extraordinary few months, many of us are now reflecting on what working from home has been like.
A research study from the University of Otago based on people working from home during the pandemic shows 73 per cent were at least as productive as when they were in the office, and 89 per cent responded that they would like to continue, at least some of the time. Interestingly, however, only 17 per cent responded that they had all the correct resources from their employer to undertake their work correctly. There has certainly been a lot of media attention that employees would rather remain at home, thus removing daily commuting (and Auckland traffic). Of course, there are many positives and I am reminded of the GFC of 2007-2008 when there was much talk from business owners about working from home and saving costs. Yes, some businesses did take that course of action, but, a few years later, many came back to relocate to an office.
People need appreciation, recognition and gratitude to be motivated. In the office you can have fluid discussions, listen to feedback and share ideas
Social interaction is one of our fundamental needs. According to Aristotle, “Man is by nature a social animal”; we naturally seek the companionship of others as part of our wellbeing. The gradual switch to open plan office areas encouraged interaction and “brain storming” with colleagues, sharing information, mentoring and collaboration. People need appreciation, recognition and gratitude to be motivated. In the office you can have fluid discussions, listen to feedback and share ideas. If you are feeling down there is always someone in the office to cheer you up, and sometimes these seemingly meaningless interactions are, in reality, really good for you and your team. They can boost creativity, morale and productivity. Many would say that there should be a delineation between work and home, however it is hard to switch off from work when your office is literally down the hallway from your bedroom. Without a doubt, home life will impinge on work life, particularly with children, pets and other potential disruptions. If you spend eight hours a day inside with minimum or no human interaction, you will almost certainly begin feeling isolated. Even the most introverted among us can start feeling a little claustrophobic after a number of weeks at home, alone - it can get lonely and good discipline is required to set working hours and sticking to them. Thanks to technologies like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype we now have instant video conferencing at our fingertips, and communication with clients and colleagues has never been easier. However, in an office, you can tap someone on the shoulder if you need to talk or prompt a discussion. It is not practical to call someone every time you have a question or idea. In the long term. it is difficult to solely rely on web video conferencing to improve team communication. Video conferencing has become overwhelming and exhausting. Non-verbal cues are quite difficult to pick up and the stress of looking at a screen for long periods of time have resulted in a new form of exhaustion, the feeling of tiredness, anxiousness or worrying about yet another video call. I for one miss the energy that is collectively generated in our office, and the face-to-face networking which is paramount in the property industry. It’s 1.00 pm and I’m off to take the team to lunch.
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