When it comes to home office locations, heading Ground & Water’s satellite office in Devon, Senior Engineer Darina Jurovskaja, has an enviable outlook. But as she explains working from home has its pro’s and con’s.
Back in 2019, you would never have thought that in a matter of months, the whole world would be in lockdown and the huge impact it would have on working practices. For many the massive shift from office-based working to most employees working from home, is still with them; and as we creep up to the end of 2021, working from home looks like it is here to stay.
But what are the main advantages of working from home (WFH)? In fact, there are so many, we can only have a look at the key ones. I believe that improved wellbeing is the number one benefit. WFH means that you spend less or no time commuting, taking away the stress of getting stuck in traffic or behind slow tractors on country lanes. This re-gained morning time can be spent on some yoga, meditation or maybe reading your favourite book. WFH also allows you to spend more time with your family or your pets. You can’t be a happy employee without being a happy person first of all. When your wellbeing is taken care of, your job satisfaction increases ten-fold, which is great for increasing team morale. With a satisfied and happy employee, we can definitely see a tendency towards increased productivity and motivation, which then leads to hitting financial targets and increased customer satisfaction.
Another advantage of WFH is increased staff motivation, which comes from the trust between an employer and their staff; allowing employees to have autonomy over their projects and flexibility around working hours.
And don’t forget about the financial benefits, where employees spend less money on fuel, public transport and take-away coffees! As I’ve come to realise, nothing beats a home-made cafetiere coffee. From the employer’s perspective, WFH requires less office space and I have seen a lot of companies partially letting go of their office areas with so many workers preferring to work from home.
We can see a lot of advantages working from home, but nothing can be this perfect. Again, let’s talk about wellbeing. WFH is not for everyone. Some people find it quite isolating with a lack of social interaction with colleagues, which can actually lead to decreased morale. During the lockdown Ground & Water ensured that all employees were happy and comfortable working from home. This was achieved through daily calls with more senior staff and weekly huddles talking not only about work but also our day-to-day lives. We looked after and motivated each other. Having weekly huddles definitely helped to maintain a positive attitude and team cohesion; and the company made a decision to make them a weekly tradition, even with many of us being back in the office.
One of the biggest challenges that a lot of people faced, and are still facing, is work burnout. Being at home can sometimes make it hard to separate work time from personal life time and so many of us end up: ‘just answering that last email’ or ‘spending a couple of minutes finishing a report’. But it turns out to be not minutes, but hours. Even WFH we must not forget about a work/life balance and make sure we give ourselves a break. It can be either a walk-in a nearby park, some stretching, or pop up to the shop for your weekly food supply! Remember that it can be so easy to burn out and the self-care is not selfish but very important!
Another valid point about WFH from a management perspective, is the difficulty experienced monitoring performance and productivity of your staff. This is where the trust comes in. At Ground & Water we value and trust our employees to work towards the same goal, whether it’s personal, professional or financial and we make sure we keep our team informed about targets and ask their opinion and ideas on how we can get there to give a chance for everyone to be involved in the company’s success.
Overall, there are so many benefits that can be gained from home working, that not seeing a change in this shift towards WFH, would have been very surprising. In our new policy, Ground & Water allows engineers to work from home up to three days a week if they wish to do so and I am also grateful that I get to work from home in Devon, exploring opportunities (and landscapes!) around the south-west.