Here’s a post from Julie Barrett of PurposiveStep Consulting, a keen supporter of IP Inclusive and in particular our Careers in Ideas campaign. Julie has plenty of experience of working from home (WFH), in a range of ways, and makes some interesting points about identifying, and accommodating, your own personal working style.
What follows are my thoughts, posted on 31 March 2020, in response to a blog post and a comment made the same day on IP Inclusive’s website. The blog post (see here) was from Giovanna Viganò, talking about her first experiences of working from home, occasioned by the SARS-CoV-2 (“covid-19”) pandemic. Giovanna is a trainee in private practice. The subsequent comment was posted by Debra Smith, who has worked from home for nearly 10 years. Debra is a senior practitioner, also in private practice. Andrea Brewster asked if I would turn my thoughts into a stand-alone blog article, so here it is!
It’s really great that people are noticing so many differing aspects of working from home (WFH). What should be becoming clear is that there is no “one size fits all”.
Some of the variables are:
- Your personality type, eg, introverts may love WFH more than extraverts
- Your work role and responsibilities, eg, juniors who need more support/discussion with peers and mentors may find it harder than seniors who need to consult in that way far less (and who may long to be away from repeated office interruptions and distractions from central issues)
- Your domestic roles and responsibilities, for example, if you have 3 children under 5 running amok or primary-aged offspring needing to be taught (by you!) or teenagers suffering separation from romantic alliances, sports team activities or exam angst, you may be towards the ceiling by now, whereas those who don’t have or have shed their family responsibilities are likely to be less fraught (lonely, even)
- The facilities you have at home – and what budget you have or have been allotted to upgrade (eg to an extra screen, faster printer, dedicated work mobile etc). Again, those with budgetary control or already set up this way will find things easier
- Whether you’ve WFH before or not (obvious one, that!)
- Whether you are good, or at least practised, at compartmentalising work and domestic time and resources
- Whether you can allow yourself to specify clear, firm but polite boundaries to separate work and home life – and keep those in balance
- What effortless benefits (or disadvantages) accrue from WFH, eg those with long commutes should immediately benefit from having more time – for everything, whereas those who can walk to work will probably be missing the routine exercise
- How many others in your domestic set-up are also trying to WFH (or study seriously from home) and the basic facilities you have for sharing and/or separating out a bit (can each have a desk/table, chair, lamp?). For example, as I write this, I can hear my daughter’s LPC seminar leader holding forth from her laptop in the next room – studying from our only desk while I am at the kitchen table
- Etc etc
But, whatever situation each of us finds ourselves in, the key is to be flexible and experimental – take a few minutes each day to consider what fits you, what works in your circumstances, and try to upscale the benefits to you (which hopefully will then feed positively into results for clients, your supervisor(s), your organisation, the “stakeholders”).
Gaining the potential benefits may require you to ask for what you really need and may be subject to negotiations, not just with “work” people if necessary but also your household. What you learn through this may surprise you, and may be something you refer back to as your career develops and options arise. You just may end up making more informed decisions in future about what works for you (or your business) – and pursuing that where feasible.
Oh! Me? Ah – thank you for asking.
Yes, I love WFH.
And I love working in a traditional office set-up, as long as I can generally have:
- natural light;
- quiet (or a soothing playlist); and
- at least three walls around me (I generally work with an “open door”).
I have worked in both environments, alternating a number of times, through my IP career in both industry and private practice. The key is to learn to adapt and be flexible – you never know what life will throw at you! What we learn now could stand us in good stead in future.
So, if you have any queries, would like some tips, want to sound off … do get in touch.
I wish you the best of health.