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Wednesday, May 13. 2020
I am used to working from home. I have done it once a week for close to 6 years, sometimes twice a week, but rarely that often. I was much more productive working from home that often. It helps reset your mind, helps keep you out of office politics, is relaxing and allows you to concentrate.
That said, I've now been working from home for 2 months straight. I'm comfortable doing it, but I will admit the productivity question is an odd one, and I would like to know if others think they are more productive, about the same, or less so.
Here is how I view the situation. I'm about as productive as I was at the office, but I take more time doing the work because I have to. So, by that standard, I'm LESS productive. I find myself working earlier and later, with more breaks than I would have at the office. Most of my daily 'ad-hoc' work shows up at 5pm, as people realize things need to get finished or as the West Coast sends in requests prior to end of day. I don't like to leave my work undone for the day, I prefer an empty email when I shut down. However, this situation is such that I've found myself responding to emails at 11pm, even midnight.
Working from home reduces access to co-workers who may have answers or assist (it takes longer for them to respond), it reduces access to information (the rapidity at which we shifted limited how many files I was able to move to a shared drive), it reduces brainstorming opportunities, it reduces camaraderie (sorry, Zoom meetings 'for fun' are not fun in any way, shape or form).
So I'm curious - how has the lockdown affected those of you who are working from home? More, less or the same in terms of productivity?
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I am about 50% as productive from home as I am in the office, and that is largely because my kids are home from school now, too. If they were in class at school, I would probably be 75 or 80% as productive.
I just have cattle, so nothing has changed for me.
I have a friend in Indiana working from home. He says he gets a lot more work done at home compared to the office, plus he doesn't spend the time and expense to commute.
My productivity is pretty much the same I think, though like you I find myself working both earlier and later than I would if I was driving into the office. I'm more likely to take an extended lunch break or breaks during the day to attend to chores. The team I'm on is spread across the Netherlands, Scotland, and two locations in US. We've worked together for several years so meeting by phone, skype, and exchanging email is second nature. Even when I was in the office it was fairly rare to have an actual work related exclusively face to face discussion because it couldn't include all the people relevant. Most office conversation was social bull sessions.
I've been work-at-home for 5 years now . Actually more productive since a lot of the stressors in an office are missing now , but you've got to develop a routing that stresses workload turnaround/productivity and time to just go outside and smell the roses . It doesn't hurt that you can have a glass of wine during work hours either .
I don't feel more productive but according to management and our legal team we are keeping them busier than before the stay-at-home rules went into effect.
It's probably an indication of just how much time can be wasted in an office environment.
One of our kids and spouse hunkered down with us for about 2 months when this was all started. They are in a metro area in Texas and we are a more rural county, so they packed up and joined us.
It might sound perverse, but this has been no small amount of joy for us, bonding and spending all our time together. Both of them are professionals, one in defense industry, one in investments. They worked longer days here than in the office, including into the early evening and weekends sometimes. Both felt they were a whole lot more productive working from here. In their office environment, it's mostly the distractions of people wandering by and chatting, or bad meeting etiquette (and poor meeting discipline) that eats the time up for them. Conducting meetings on a virtual basis tends to eliminate the needless chit-chat.
Now that this work-from-home concept has been tried out in earnest, out of necessity, I expect that professional work styles are going to change to accommodate more work at home. This is going to be a great break for new parents especially, but on the other side, what happens to these enormous investments that companies make in their glorious headquarter campuses?
My last day in the office was March 12th, although I have been working from home one or two days a week for most of the past 8 years. In my current position, which I stared about 15 months ago, my day starts at 7:30 am since half my team is in India, so i used to have to be on the 6:30 commuter rail train into Boston - now I get up at 6:15 - 6:30, so that's a big positive.
Mostly I'm more productive at home because of the noise and distractions that come with the open seating plan at work. However, my concentration and motivation has really dropped the past two weeks, partly from the monotony in my routine with Massachusetts still pretty well locked down and partly because my mother-in-law died a couple of weeks ago (she was 92).
Sounds like we won't be going back to the office until at least Sept, and even then, it will be a slow and partial; re-opening. I'm hoping 4 days a week at home will eventually be my permanent routine...I do want to get in and see people in person once in a while, but saving 2 hrs a day commuting is awesome, especially with the early start.
I think people confuse working more and longer hours with productivity.
I produced more in the office in a 9 hour (1 hour lunch) day than I do in 8 hours at home. That is, when I'm working full time at home.
When I was doing 1 day a week? I crushed it at home - no distractions, etc.
I like working from home. Many, many benefits to it. But for what I do it isn't entirely a natural state of affairs. It makes it harder to get/share information.
it really depends on the task.
For tasks within my immediate team, with whom I sit at the office, things are less productive as informal and unstructured communication is hampered.
Tasks that involve interacting with other teams, who I would usually reach via phone, message or email, things are about the same.
But I work in a highly matrixed organization so your mileage may vary. A highly decentralized organization my function the same or better; a rigidly hierarchical may so much worse without sightlines.
I've worked from home for 15 years, and it was great while my kid was growing up since I was there every day after school, helped with homework, acted as Uber, and had company/companion starting mid afternoon. Spouse worked regular office job at I was alone all day until after school. I do not think I was more productive than being in an office, and I admit that my career was on a flatter trajectory than if I had decided to move and be in an office (I am in tech and refuse to move to Silicon Valley). My skills are unique and custom enough that I have worked for three companies during this time, all remotely.
After kid was launched to college I didn't have that "second job" and the isolation was wearing. I decided after 15 years that it was time to be around other people - the socialization became my top priority. I was dialing in two office job possibilities in early March when...shut-in. The two office openings stalled and I settled back into my remote job which is good for remote working as long as I want, with zero risk of losing my job.
I am now resigned to never work back in an office, but it is less lonely now that spouse is home-officing with me. After 15 years I have a routine and don't worry about productivity, but am sad that the world changed just at the time I was ready to make a move.
I have worked in an office for many years, although for most of those years I traveled a lot and talked to many people. For the past 5 years I have worked from an office and other than the long heavy commute back and forth I enjoyed it.
Then came the virus and they put us all working from home temporarily (7 weeks so far) but now I have decided to telecommute permanently. I will miss the office but then again, many of my co-workers are telecommuting as well, so why go into an almost empty office?
The upside is I am saving close to two grand by not commuting and my company paying $100 a month towards my internet.
WAY more productive working from home. I've sometimes done so in the past; so, I already had the home office set up for working remotely. Other co-workers had to get used to working from home; but, they haven't done badly.
And, we do use Zoom for meetings that used to be face-to-face. No issues there when it is a regular business meeting.
The real issue I have is when it is Zoom meetings for "fun." These are just plain annoying. Wear a "funny" hat. Wear a costume. Wear your favorite sports Jersey. We have been doing these "fun" meetings every week for over a month. And then on every Friday there is a "happy hour" zoom meeting at what is my regular quitting time. "What are you drinking?
Everyone raise their glass!" This is no fun at all. If they start a sing-along, I will suddenly have connectivity issues!
Although now mostly retired, I was always much more productive in the office:
(1) Colleagues provided constant reminders and assistance with scheduling, deadlines, and setting priorities. Working at home, these things all fall on me, and they take as much time for me as the actual work.
(2) There are distractions both places, but for me the distractions at home are more severe. When a colleague tried to distract me I could mostly say no (it helped that I was the boss); not so with the wife or kids.
(3) In the law business, talking with colleagues is actually an important part of the job. "Shop talk" is a big part of how you keep up with developments, which are constant. At lunch with a colleague you will talk about the government's latest tactics in an ongoing investigation, or the latest case that has come down from some judge you are appearing before. At lunch with the wife, you talk about family matters. After a few months, you've lost track of what's going on in your field.
I have been working from home for about 6 weeks doing therapy groups on Zoom. It's weird and sterile. I'm ready to get back in the grin
It seems to vary according to how much sleep I got the night before. Fortunately I have an understanding boss who will let me clock out for an afternoon nap.
I've been working from home off and on since the 90s. Tech field, for three different companies. I also did a lot of business travel (mostly client sites but also to headquarters) so it has been a weird mix. Most of that time I've been working with global teams, so no matter where I was physically I spent a lot of time in conference calls.
Working from home can be productive, meaning that I can get a lot done. But without actual in-person face time you miss the relationships that you can rely on to solve problems. I find it is always easier to work through issues with people whom I've met in person at least once.
It is also harder to manage a large team. Again, seeing each other in person helps build a rapport that just doesn't exist when you are always on the phone on on Zoom.
Personally I look forward to getting back to my normal routine of travel / office time every other week mixed with a week at home.
In short spurts I am more productive at home. But week in and week out less productive.
I get energy from the office and being on the road meeting customers, taking them out to dinner etc
You are cut off from that at home. And that loss of energy affects how much I produce.
So ... short run it’s great (no commute, no office small talk, etc) but long run it’s hurt mine.
I've worked at home since 1987 (300 baud line, slowly increasing) which lets you play with the dog.
I use /bin/ed exclusively as the editor, it being the only editor that works with long line delays. Say you're editing stuff on a machine in India that day. Now it's a habit.
I have run my own business from home for over 10 years as a pediatric speech pathologist. Now that I have had to switch to telepractice and learn those ropes, it has added a whole new layer to my onion if working with special needs toddlers and their families.I have learned a few things the hard way through the years of doing work from home in my home office/ sewing room. I would suggest that you set definite hours of work and stick to them, including checking and responding to work email and texts. Set aside definite office hours for when you will respond to emails and texts, and let others know. Make sure you schedule regular breaks during your work hours, just like you would take a coffee break or have lunch when you worked in an office. And never, ever, ever check on your work emails in the evening. I personally put my phone away where I can’t see or hear it from 7-10:30 every night so I can mentally unwind from work. After 10:30, my phone is set to only accept calls from immediate family and close friends. All other calls go to VM. Before I took these steps I was constantly bombarded with text messages and emails from my clients, and felt compelled to immediately respond. You don’t have to immediately respond. The work will still be there the next day or after the weekend. You will find yourself more productive, more creative, and more relaxed. Also, check out the Pomodoro Method for increasing work productivity and creative by using. 25-minute timer alternating with timed breaks. It actually works.
I've worked from home for 21 years. I'm more productive at home than I was at the office. It's harder for others to waste my time. If I'm temporarily without a useful task, or I'm otherwise ready to take a break, I don't fill up my time to avoid having to drive home at an inconvenient time. I don't wander around distracting other people.
I've always billed by the tenth-hour, and my clients' decision whether my bill was reasonable depended on whether I produced something useful, not whether I showed the flag in a conference room. My clients had no reason to know or care whether I did. They had the evidence of my work in their own hands, or in the memory of whether the advice I gave them over the phone was helpful. They also avoided wasting money flying me here and there and putting me up in hotels for no obvious purpose.
I was working from home, but I got the chance for a good retirement package (I'm 70) so not now.
However keep in mind: If your job can be done from home, it can be done from anywhere.