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Thoughts on Working From Home

I may be biased, but so far, I think working from home works for me and the disadvantages can easily be addressed. I’m just fortunate to be given the chance to work from home.

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Or from anywhere for that matter.

 

I know you and your site is an advocate of establishing one’s business, of entrepreneurship but we also know that not all Pinoys are cut to be entrepreneurs, while for some, it takes time to transition from being employed to being one’s own boss.

Home Office by Sean MacEntee, on Flickr

 

So thank you for allowing me to write a bit about employment, particularly working from home.

Who knows, working from home might be beneficial for those who have other rackets (which is common for us Pinoys) as long as our primary work does not suffer.

Working from home is a relatively new concept in the Philippines but other companies in more developed nations actually see it as common practice, some even best practice. My parents actually don’t understand how is it that staring at my laptop and typing stuff for 8 hours is considered working (they are used to operations and not back-office by the way).

In the two companies I’ve been with, one has it in place for those parents with children, while the other one is starting to test it out, and I was lucky to be part of the test group.

I’ve heard from my friends working for a global consumer goods brand (two letters, also a local rating for movies and TV shows) that their company really advocates working from home. They even provide an allowance to help the employee set up his/her office space, to have a stable internet connection at home, buy desks, phone line and laptop, etc. My company is not that rich, but nonetheless was open-minded enough to test out working from home.

So far, here are my observations:

Advantages

Resource-savings

A major reason why a company would like to try work from home is to save costs: cost of providing a workstation per employee, electricity, internet, etc. A typical employee may not be familiar but someone high enough will know that there are costs for each employee occupying a certain office space, much so if the office space is just being rented by the company. Imagine the cost per square meter of offices in Makati or BGC and Juan will see what I mean.

Employees also save on costs such as food, transportation, clothing etc as s/he no longer has to dress up on corporate attire and Juan can eat meals at home, possibly with their children. We all know how tough it is to commute to work here in Manila, even those who have their own cars are not much better off. Juan can also save on much needed sleep before and after working hours, since s/he no longer has to sleep early and wake up early just to avoid being late.

Enhanced Productivity

Working from home is not for everyone, especially those who need access to company’s secure servers and core systems. But there are employees who just need the internet, email and MS Office softwares to do their jobs (like yours truly). So with the resources saved as mentioned above, with enough sleep, and with avoidance of being haggard and stressed in Juan’s commute, Juan actually has more energy to do the day’s tasks.

One can actually focus on the tasks at hand, minimizing office gossip, ambush inquiries, etc. I also realized that one actually has to exert more effort on being noticed via email or via submission of documents. In a typical work setting, if your boss sees you present, at the back of his/her mind, some work is being done (whether or not you are indeed working). But if one is working from home, an extra effort (such as work output) is needed just to give your boss the peace of mind that you are indeed working, even if s/he cannot see you physically. At work, whether at home or office, visibility is key.

Adjustments

Meetings can still be done via Skype video calls, office group chat or even calls to your mobile device. Work from home actually forces everyone, you and your internal customers to think of new ways of working, and not to settle for the setting they’ve been used to. Which is good — some sort of continuous improvement. Of course a change such as this will meet some resistance, especially from those who need to adjust more due to your physical absence. But in today’s mobile and interconnected world, such resistance are easily addressed.



Disadvantages

Out of sight

Some employees don’t like the notion of working from home, saying “out of sight, out of mind.” The adjustments needed to make work from home “work” may be a double-edged sword, as those who need to adjust might just forget that you exist. They fear that the company may forget you totally, think that they can function normally without you, and later on fire you. Possible but not probable as long as you provide the valuable work output expected from you.
Decisions might be made without consulting you, or you may not be invited to emergency meetings anymore since you are not physically present. Again, this can be compensated by providing value to the company even if you are not there, and to ensure that you are an indispensable part of the organization.
My boss is also having a hard time sometimes since all ambush inquiries fall down on his lap, whereas supposedly, there are 5 of us addressing the various ambush queries. Again, this should be just a matter of fixing the communication lines. 

Office Gossip

 

Believe it or not, being updated on the office grapevine is important. Being physically out, one may miss on happenings not cascaded officially via email. For me, the trick here is show up in the office at least once a week, for this, and for other matters that one cannot do remotely.

 

Submissions

 

Similar to office gossip este grapevine, one cannot do certain tasks while working from home. Depends on the organization, but typically, submission of printed documents for actual signature may force one to come to office. Likewise, accessing a company system or some files stored in the server will make one come to the office. Personally, I set aside at least one day a week to do all of this, plus to catch up on what’s happening. This day is also the chance for me to join meetings in person, to remind my customers that hey, I’m still here, you can still count on me, and the company needs me.

Temptations

Sure it’s tempting to sneak a nap during office hours since the bed is just a few meters away, or maybe trade stocks and watch TV while working on one’s laptop. These are actually not disadvantages per se, but more of extra perks if you know what I mean. Sure as hell these are tempting but then again, one can also do these inside the office premises, just hidden in plain sight.

Further, I’m of the opinion that as long as the employee meets or exceeds all expectations of him, then it doesn’t matter what he does on his free time as long as it is not detrimental to the company.

I may be biased, but so far, I think working from home works for me and the disadvantages can easily be addressed.

I’m just fortunate to be given the chance to work from home. I’m sure majority of those who don’t want to adjust, are just bitter and sourgraping that they themselves were not given the chance to work from home. Peace!

Photos:

Home Office – relaxing mode (CC BY 2.0) by  jholster 

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2 Comments on Thoughts on Working From Home

  1. Thanks for the kind words. Maintaining a blog really takes time and effort. Even I experience some downtimes and writer's block, at a loss for things to write.

    Just keep on writing about your advocacy, things close to your heart and interest so that you won't find writing forced and effortful. Keep writing and keep in mind why you are writing, have a purpose bigger than yourself. As for monetizing it, we'll get there. You might also want to expose your blog into social media such as FB, instagram and twitter. Goodluck!

    Like

  2. i started a blog but can't seem to have the time to improve it. being not computer savvy, i got frustrated. wanted to monetize some from it but just couldn't get around to it. i pray for divine intervention; i set it up as some kind of tribute forPWD'S. I wish i can write like you; entertaing, informative/educational, coherent and from the heart. 😞

    Like

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