Our Reality of Working from Home during Lockdown

Aoife McCardle
Digital Marketing Executive
Work and home life began to merge, when work ended the same space would be used for study and hobbies.

Nova Futur has always had a ‘Work From Home’ policy for its employees allowing for a more flexible lifestyle. It truly was the best of both worlds, those who worked better from home could do so on occasion, while those who preferred to work in the office environment would remain there. It seems to be the ideal situation. However with the lockdown forcing all employees to work from home for the past few months, it is interesting to gain their perspective of the situation. While some have relished this time, others have found it a more taxing experience. 

Following our last article, “Face-to-Screen: the Remote Recruitment Experience”, we decided to ask the members of our company how they have found working from home throughout the lockdown. While Nova Futur have been doing what they can to support all members of staff, it is always beneficial to check in and gauge how people are responding. This feedback also allows us to see if there is anything else that needs to be done and the ways we should adapt as life begins again. 

There are countless articles and blog posts giving tips and hints about how to stay productive while working from home - I am sure you have seen a few. Like many, we have shared them with one another within the company along with our own tips and tricks. It is easier than ever to have lines blurred between work and home life when they are now essentially the same thing.

To gain an understanding of how people have been coping, we sent out a short, anonymous survey to the entire company asking about their experience of working from home. Here is a breakdown of the feedback we received.

The Findings

The majority indicated that they found the switch easy and even preferable to working in an office environment. As expected, most built dedicated work-spaces within their homes if there was not one already, making sure to only work within office hours to create a feeling of separation between their home and work life. Routines have been very helpful for maintaining the separation, people make sure they do not check work devices or communication services out of hours, likewise only doing personal tasks out of office hours e.g. doing laundry or going shopping. A few individuals mentioned they have specific rituals such as dressing for work in the morning, packing away their work-laptop and accessories at the end of the day or meal prepping, these have helped them to create a mental separation between work and home times. 

Some of these practises are easier if you have the space for them i.e. a spare room, for those who don’t have this kind of space, the transition has understandably been more challenging. A few people explained that having a work/life balance has been particularly difficult as they only have one room in a flat-share to work and live out of, or they share a studio apartment with a partner which gets slightly cramped after a few days, let alone three months. For these individuals, actively working to create a separation between work and home life is essential until it is possible to comfortably commute back to the office daily. 

I experienced high peeks and low lows in productivity, this could be linked to the global pandemic situation.

It should be noted that quite a few have found the transition difficult given the circumstances of the change. Working from home is one thing, working from home during a pandemic is unfamiliar territory and all reactions and responses are completely understandable at this given time. It is more essential now than ever before to keep a healthy balance in your life as there is a constant subconscious strain focused on the global situation. As these issues are out of our immediate control, it is important to focus on the things we can control like maintaining a schedule and having a healthy mindset both when working and when relaxing. (For those who would like more information, there will be a few links at the bottom of this post to websites that provide advice on how to cope with the stresses that Coronavirus brings.) 

Several people mentioned they have actually gotten more work done at home due to the lack of distractions. However, the lack of communication and intermittent breaks has been negative for their mental health as they do not take as many breaks as they probably should. To manage, some have been scheduling regular breaks while others have tried to incorporate regular exercise into their routine, be it a walk during their lunch break or yoga in the morning. Those who have had to use the same space to work and relax in or always have their work-laptop with them have found it especially hard to disconnect at the end of the working day because they do not have a definitive separation. 

It seems that those working from home with children have understandably had great difficulty keeping a work-life balance. They rely on help from family, sticking to strict office hours or extra measures such as purchasing noise-cancelling headphones. While these adaptations seem to have helped, most of these individuals would prefer to move back to the office.

In contradiction to this, some have seen the merging of work and home life as a undisputable bonus. They explained that it is beneficial to both aspects of life because you can transition far quicker from one to the other without losing time either with loved ones or working on a project. This is definitely one of the main positive aspects with working from home, removing the commute time removes a lot of wasted time from most people's lives, time that can be used more productively.

As you can see, there have been mixed views about working from home with some wanting to move back to the office as soon as possible and others wanting ‘Working from Home’ to be the new norm. 

What have Nova Futur done to help?

But how have Nova Futur specifically helped their employees during this period and is there more we can do? We asked and were blown away by the responses of our teams. A resounding majority said that they greatly appreciated the levels of trust and freedom within the company while working from home. They have felt “valued” by the company and respect the efforts people have gone to to keep in close contact with one another. The introduction of a weekly company-wide call with project presentations has allowed people to feel more  connected with each other, especially with individuals outside of their respective teams. These presentations also have a Q&A section which encourages conversation about the projects between teams, aiding understanding and promoting a mentality of togetherness. People have felt heard by the company, their concerns are listened to and the situation is re-assessed accordingly to fix issues. The key thing Nova Futur has been able to provide is the reassurance of our stability through these trying times, this has brought comfort to many and maintained work-motivation levels.

Moving forward, ideally keeping a balance between working from home and commuting into the office may be the best scenario for all. It would allow those who have been more productive and well-rested, because they no longer have to commute, to maintain this working-style. Meanwhile, those who have struggled to remain motivated or have too many distractions at home can move back into the office environment. However the uncertainty of the global situation means that we will remain in lockdown and working from home for the foreseeable future. When we are able to move back into the office, a shift in the company’s culture like this may take a little getting used to but it could increase productivity for all while keeping people as safe as possible. This will be kept in mind while we continue to work from home and support those who are finding it more challenging.

Written by:
Aoife McCardle
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