The new office working week: The pros and cons of remote working
As we reflect on 2022, we take a look at the new office working week and the benefits that coaching brings for those working remotely
Since the pandemic, the way we work has changed dramatically. With the majority of businesses and employees forced to operate remotely, we’ve seen a shift in attitudes toward working from home and its benefits, both for business and employee wellbeing. And it’s fair to say that things have changed a lot over the last few years here at Happiful, too.
As we enter a new year and look back at 2022, one trend that stands out is the idea of the ‘new office working week’, but what exactly is it? Recent research has revealed that a typical working week in the office now runs from Tuesday to Thursday, with many of us opting to work from the comfort of our own homes on a Monday and Friday - perhaps in an attempt to drag our weekends out for as long as possible.
With just 13% of people heading to the office for the last working day of the week, it’s clear that Thursday has become the new Friday, but what impact does this have on our wellbeing, and is it here to stay?
Aside from the obvious benefits like saving money on transport, whether that’s on fuel or train fares (this being particularly valuable in the current cost of living climate), there are a number of wellness and business benefits to hybrid working. It’s worth noting, however, that this approach to work doesn’t suit everyone, nor is it practical for all professions.
Let's take a look at some of the advantages of working from home:
Whilst some people can struggle to find the motivation to work from home, for many, it can actually increase productivity as there are fewer distractions from the often trivial office matters. Home working means we can have total peace and quiet so that we can really focus and be present with our work. To add, many businesses are now adopting ‘flexible hours’, meaning you can work at times that best suit you and when you’re most productive.
For those of us trying to balance work with busy family life, remote working gives us that extra chunk of valuable time that we’d typically spend commuting to be with our loved ones. What’s more, it allows more time to get things done around the home, attend appointments, etc. meaning you can really relax into your evening and recharge, ready for the following day.
The added ability for employees to have more autonomy and freedom in deciding how they plan their working day creates more trust between them and their employers, increasing job satisfaction.
Not only does hybrid or fully remote working cut down on transportation costs, but it also reduces your carbon footprint. Whilst doing your bit to help the environment, you’re also contributing towards a greener future.
The global media company, Forbes, highlighted that increased productivity and better business performance result in a 41% decrease in absenteeism, more engaged employees, and a higher retention rate - a win-win situation!
Whilst there are many positives to remote working, it doesn’t suit everybody, and for some, working from home can put a strain on their mental health. Here are just a few examples of why remote working can be problematic:
Lack of social interaction
Perhaps the most obvious downside to remote working is the lack of social interaction. Communicating with our colleagues isn’t the same through a screen as it is in person. Despite advancements in technology and the ability to video call, there’s nothing quite like bouncing ideas off one another in a face-to-face meeting.
Potential to overwork
This is something I’m sure a lot of us are guilty of. Outside of your working hours, you might think, “I’ll just quickly check my emails” and, before long, you’re deep in a work pit… sound familiar? The truth is, there is such a thing as being too engrossed in work and, if your boundaries aren’t closely monitored, it can be easy to become overworked and burnt out.
What’s more, having a home office set up can make it especially difficult to really switch off after the working day - something that is far easier to do during a commute home. If you're struggling with this, try to log off at a certain time so that you’re not working into the night. If you are able to create a separate space in your home purely dedicated to working, even better. You can shut the door at the end of the day and this signifies it’s time to start winding down for the evening.
Working from home requires a lot of self-discipline and the need to ensure you take responsibility for your workload. Being in a home environment can make this especially challenging, particularly if you find yourself following the same routine every day. Try to mix up your schedule or take breaks at different times to add some variety.
How can coaching help us navigate remote working?
If you’re considering working from home, or perhaps your company has introduced hybrid/fully remote working and you’re struggling to adapt, you could benefit from working with a coach. Life Coach Directory member Dr Julie Osborn shares her experience helping remote workers manage this shift.
“Social media bombards us with information about how people should work”, Julie says. “People can feel guilty that they haven’t embraced the latest trend or don’t seem to be coping. Employees are often given options about where, when, and how they work. Some people are also trying to manage their mental health. Finding ways to support employees to negotiate this is important.
“Coaching is one way people can explore how they work at their best. It provides an opportunity to explore options and decide what works best for them. Being able to come up with uniquely tailored approaches can have positive benefits, particularly for people struggling with their mental health. Being given permission to embrace how your brain works can be liberating and small adjustments can make a real difference.”
Coaching can also help people who are already working remotely by validating what they know works for them. “Coaching often gives people the confidence to open up a discussion with their employer about how they can be more effective. It is not easy for employees to request adjustments in the workplace. They might not know what to ask for or how to raise the topic. Rehearsing this with a coach often gives people the confidence to take things forward”, Julie says.
Sometimes, different ways of working involve trial and error. This is where joint coaching sessions with individuals and their managers can be helpful. “Coaching questions can help both parties review what has happened and give encouragement to continue trying different approaches.
“Exploring how to approach work and identifying practical solutions can help individuals recognise new ways of working. Rather than theoretical discussions about what works, coaching focuses on the individual and their uniqueness. Developing new insights often enables people to feel more confident about themselves and how they work.”
In a coaching session, employees can learn to recognise their strengths, identify preferred working environments, and notice what time of day is best to tackle different tasks. “It’s not always possible to control the working environment but I have worked with clients who have boosted their productivity by working in a different space or tackled their least preferred tasks at a different time of day.
“In many cases, the solutions are beautifully simple but the impact is powerful. When people work in a way that suits them, they can be happier and more productive. Gaining control over managing themselves at work helps people manage their mental health more effectively.
“Coaching can have a ripple effect as individuals share their knowledge and become positive role models. Recently, I’ve worked with clients with significant mental health challenges who have cleared backlogs of work, volunteered to take on new projects, and feel happier about work.”
If you’d like to work with a coach to feel more empowered when working from home, you can find one best suited to you on Life Coach Directory.