Working from home. Utopian Dream, or Dystopian Nightmare?

Since March, the world of work has been pretty different to anything else we’ve ever been used to.

For employees, there have been three possible variations on the way things have played out…

Those who were furloughed, all 9 million of them, saw their wages paid by the Government and their jobs put on pause.

So, was it all cocktails in the sunshine and a surge in hot tub sales?

Maybe not for everyone, but it certainly was for some.

Many others were laid off, or saw their hours dramatically reduced.

This has been a time of fear and uncertainty for so many people. The number of redundancies due to coronavirus is only going to go one way as well.

The third group of employees, were those who carried on right through…

Not just doctors and nurses, but teachers, supermarket workers, truckers. The list of ‘key workers’, as they were labelled, was pretty extensive and seemed to grow with each week of lockdown.

And then there was you.

The business owner.

No matter how alone you might’ve felt over the last few months, there have been many more in very similar positions.

Maybe not the same boat, but definitely the same storm.

The fall out from this pandemic, and the inevitable long term effects it will have on hundreds of thousands of businesses, is yet to be seen, but it’s coming.

One way in which business owners have tried to adapt, or to survive even, is by moving their operations to the home environment.

Working from home.

Yikes.

Whilst it isn’t a brand new concept by any stretch, when Boris told us all that that was what we needed to do, we listened, in our millions.

Many were surprised to learn that ‘working from home’ isn’t just endless coffees and an extra lie in.

Why?

Because this kind of ‘working from home’ was always going to be vastly different to anything before the pandemic.

With home schooling to negotiate, less opportunity to get out and do things, oh, and the existential dread about our civilisation and its impending collapse of course, it was never going to be easy.

We said it last week.

Survival.

Recovery.

Growth.

This was all about survival.

If you’ve come through the working from home experience in one piece, or even in a few well kept little pieces, you’ve done enough.

We’ve spoken to plenty of people with first hand experience of moving their workplace to their home place throughout the crisis, and it’s safe to say that their experiences have differed.

So do their plans going forwards.

There have been plenty of challenges, that’s for sure, but instead of reeling them off and complaining about how hard it’s been, let’s flip it on its head, and imagine how it might’ve worked the other way round…

Monday morning, you’re running late for a meeting because the traffic is heavier than usual.

You arrive in the nick of time and even manage to get yourself a nice coffee as a pick me up.

Winning.

The meeting is about to start…and then the dog runs past, knocking the coffee all over you, the carpet and the person you’re meeting.

First question.

What is the dog doing at work?!

Let’s jump ahead and say that you manage to survive until around 10am, but then all of your co workers start demanding their fifth breakfast.

Whilst juggling phone calls, invoices and emails, you find yourself delivering jafffa cakes, jelly beans and a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, to a meeting room that resembles a lair.

TV blaring, finger marks on the walls, curtains still closed.

These are going to be some pretty interesting appraisals when you get round to them.

Popping out for lunch is off the cards, because everywhere is closed of course, and you can’t leave your kids, who have inexplicably followed you to work, unattended or unoccupied for even a brief moment.

It’s OK, you can support another local business by ordering takeout, again.

The petty cash receipts will make for interesting reading.

By 2pm you’ve done approximately nothing, except throw food at your children (who are still there for some reason) and have several arguments with your spouse.

It’s also at this point that you realise you’re still in your pyjamas.

You’ve gone to work in your PJs. Did you even brush your teeth this morning? Have you eaten?

At least at home time, you’ll be able to gather your thoughts and enjoy getting home to your loved ones.

No, sorry, you’re staying at work tonight. Indefinitely in fact. Make sure you order some tat from Amazon for tomorrow, another takeaway, and get out for your permitted exercise.

Before you even think about going to sleep though, how can you live with yourself knowing that you’ve knocked the home schooling on the head?

OK, that was all a bit chaotic wasn’t it?

Chaotic, yes. But also, very familiar for many small business owners out there who have been adapting to homing from work, sorry, working from home. Or both.

It’s not all bad though!

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about this new found acceptance of working from home…

Environmentally, this could be a turning point.

When the kids go back to school, productivity could go through the roof.

As long as your internet provider is worth their salt, this could be a goer for some of us, long term.

Costs will be cut.

But what else will be ‘cut’?

Social interaction? Accountability? Hand shaking?

Real life face to face connection and the nurturing of relationships have always been the foundation of successful business.

Does working from home stop that?

Or is this just the beginning of something even more powerful?

2080e is here for business owners like you, right now, helping you adjust, prepare and acclimatise.

2020 will forever be remembered as the year we all stayed home.

So, how was it for you?