All of us like a bit of solitude, some time away from everyone else to get your thoughts together. Being alone can also mean that you can get some work done, you know, that long report that you can’t get finished because of so many interruptions. Working from home (WFH) then has been a blessing for those who need the time to catch up or get such things over the line. But it is not all sweetness and light.
Working from home is no longer new, for a significant number, the lucky ones who could, it has become the reality. The daily commute is now a walk from the kitchen, coffee in hand to the back room which has become a makeshift office. The novelty has rubbed off and faced with it continuing for a potentially long period, working from home is having some negative effects.
Several people I know, especially those who are alone, are suffering side effects. According to Canadian Business 37% of Canadian home-workers say they feel lonely working on their own and 65% say they miss mixing with fellow professionals. More than half also said that they were getting ‘stale’ and miss the stimulation that they get from the office environment. I have no doubt that Canadian home workers are no different from any other across the globe.
The loneliness is compounded by the findings of another survey, this time in Ireland, which found that more than 40% of people working from home are working longer than they would normally, ‘21% say they cannot switch off from work, 12% feel that they are working less efficiently while 11% claim to have a heavier workload than usual.’ I have no doubt that Irish home workers are no different from any other across the globe.
Both these stories highlight that work means more than work to us. It is easy to transact from home, it may even be easier but we miss all those social interactions, catching up with colleagues and the office gossip. People want to see a friendly face.
It may be that returning to the office is not a medium or long term option, yet it would seem that neither is working from home. Something in the middle, a hybrid or mixed solution is going to be required.