Work from Home: Expectations vs. Reality

work from home

The concept of remote work has been met with its own set of expectations and misconceptions, but the reality of working from home might come as a shock for some people altogether!

To be able to work full-time at home is the ultimate millennial dream. For those who used to spend 2-3 hours alone commuting to and from their office, it is especially a dream come true. But as with anything in life, there are two sides to the same coin; and working from home brings with it its own set of pros and cons that everyone needs to take into consideration.

Those who have started working from home as a change from working in an office environment are finding their expectations might not be the reality, the same way those accustomed to the flexibility of remote work will find it hard to adjust to the structured dynamic of regular office hours.

However, if you’re expecting work from home to be a lax and rewarding experience as compared to the run-of-the-mill 9 to 5 jobs most people are accustomed to, you might want to reign in on your expectations a little.

Let’s debunk some theories about remote work, and set you up with a realistic expectation on what you can get out of such an unorthodox setup.

Scheduling conflicts

If you’re remotely employed, you might think there’s no need for an alarm clock because you can start your day, and by extension your work, any time you want. However, you could not be farther from the truth.

Working from home will still have its set office hours. You will still be given project deadlines to meet and working hours to respect, out of obligation of being a stand-up employee who wishes to do good by their company. This model is efficient for remote workers who can routinely collaborate and check in on each other’s progress, holding one another accountable for their respective tasks. You can set up conference calls and zoom meetings as you normally would in your corporate office.

Yes, there is absolutely no need to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch that 6:30 train to the metropolis, but it does your self-discipline and overall work ethic well if you still imposed some semblance of routine in your workflow. Even if your contract is project-based that doesn’t demand you to put in x number of hours, creating a schedule for yourself and sticking to it might go a long way in terms of your overall outlook towards remote work.

Work-life balance

Most people think that because the only commute you’d need as a remote worker is the bed to your desk, therefore you won’t get burnt out as much as regular corporate employees do. But this is largely false.

Being burnt out is not exclusive to remote workers, it can happen to anyone. It has nothing to do with the circumstances of your working model, but more on the general disposition with which you regard working altogether. If you view it cynically from the start, the isolated work set-up will only serve to aggravate your feelings further.

But if you embrace your situation and make the most out of it, you’ll find yourself looking forward to the many privileges you get to enjoy being able to work in the sun and get paid for it.

Working hours

Another common misconception people often think of remote work is that they can stop working anytime they want and just Netflix and chill if they choose to do so.

This is not the case for a majority of people working from home. In fact, because of the removal of the structure of a set workload and working hours, most of them find themselves working from the early hours of dawn late into the night. Tasks that aren’t completed from the day before can end up becoming work to tend to over the weekend. It can be hard to not bring the work home, when you are working at home.

Getting a solid grasp of how you can maximize productivity while working from home, without sacrificing your sanity, can prove to be an optimal setup.

Productivity output

Working in a standard office can often lead to us underestimating the power of the internet because much of our workflow demands us to rely on the stable connection speed. When it goes off, it’s no fault other than external factors such as the internet provider, but never the employee. Bosses cannot fault their staff then for a delay in productivity.

Home WiFi and work WiFi are way more often than not different from each other, the latter being especially calibrated to be able to take on multiple servers and personnel without sacrificing quality. Working from home, relying on home WiFi, is an entirely different matter. Sometimes it cannot be trusted and sometimes it can, but on the times it conveniently goes out during an important meeting or brief, it’s quite hard to justify it without your boss doubting the true intentions of your explanation.

Communication is the key to handling remote work teams, and giving your boss the heads up of possible interruptions beforehand creates a relationship of trust shared among everyone else who may be going through faulty connections.

Overall work environment

The overall lack of human interaction can have many compounding effects on a worker’s productivity, psyche, and ability to socialise. Without a proper communication tool, it makes quick questions that you would normally ask with ease in the office cubicles more of an extended process via email. It makes the entire process more tedious than it should be. There is also a lack of authenticity in your work when you spend most of it staring back at the glare of a computer screen.

Having a focused work environment can be the thing that makes or break your entire remote work set-up. One’s surroundings can have a compounding effect on their ability to focus and stay productive, and even affect your mood.

Investing in some sensible, affordable ergonomic office furniture to set up a minimalistic and discreet but comfortable home office will do wonders to boost your morale. Ergonomic office chairs, or even just dedicated tables for working, can completely transform your outlook in remote work for the better. Lay the finishing touches with decorative elements that bring a sense of calm to your day to day – Candle Kiosk’s pillar candles are perfect for upping your home office set up.

Some people say that with working from home you can start sooner and end sooner, start later and end later. Everyone approaches it differently according to their work ethic, preferences, and overall living circumstances that play into what their whole remote work set-up looks like.

The important thing to always remember at the end of the day is that working from home doesn’t have to put a dent in your plans if you only set your expectations right from the beginning and prioritize accordingly. Remember to communicate effectively not just with your colleagues, but the people around you, and maybe you’ll find it a little less lonely staring at your screen for extended periods knowing you are not alone in doing so.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.