Work from home notes (i)

2020 has been a difficult year for many. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world hard exposing weaknesses in political and healthcare systems. The economy has also not been spared. A lot of people have lost jobs. If you are among the lucky who still have your job, you might have had to adapt to a new way of working: work from home.

In a bid to limit the number of people under one roof and by so doing curb the rate of infections, employers have had to ask staff members to work away from the office. For many Nigerians, this was their first time working from home.

A sticky note that says "Please stay home"
Dream or nightmare

The Pros

  • You save money on transport fares and fuel for your vehicle. Being able to work at home means you can just wake up, plug in and start working. The money you would have spent getting to the office is saved.
  • You get to work in a familiar and comforting environment. At home, you can work in your underwear or wear casual outfits that your employer may not have allowed you to wear to the office (except if you have to appear in a video call).
  • You also have the luxury to decorate your workspace as you see fit. Those loud colours and extra fluffy pillows that may not look professional in a corporate organisation are fine at home.

The Cons

  • There tends to be a lot more distractions at home, especially if you have children. A colleague complained about how his daughters always come to play with him when he opens his laptop to work at home. The girls just haven’t understood the situation is now different and just because daddy is home does not mean he can play with them all the time. The tv and kitchen are also just a few steps away. You might find yourself sneaking off to watch a movie or reach for your favourite snack 12 times a day. Hardly a good thing for your productivity.
  • While you save costs in transport fares, you might end up spending more in electricity and internet. At the office, you get to use your boss’s electricity and the office internet free of charge. At home, you have to pay for yours. If the power is out, you have to spend money to either fuel a generator or invest in an inverter. Otherwise, you are left at the mercy of the poor power supply found in most towns across Nigeria. It’s hard to beat deadlines when you don’t have electricity to power your laptop.
  • Most people end up working longer hours when they work from home. In an office, you clock in and out, there is time for lunch break and at the end of the day, you put away your tools and go home. When home becomes the office, you might find yourself going to work as soon as you wake up and going back to it even after dinner. I know a consultant who tried working from home once to save money on office rent and associated costs only to give up after two months and hire office space because as he said “I no longer knew when work began and when it ended. My life became work and my wife was not happy with that.”
A man at his desk working late into the night
Can’t clock out

It is very likely work from home will be the norm for quite some time. It is also possible that as employers look to cut overhead costs, they will start asking even more employees to work from home. The future of work might not be in the office. If that’s the case, are you prepared?

I will share some tips to help you adjust to working from home next week. In the meantime, what has your experience been? Has work from home been a blessing for your productivity and given you extra time to spend with your family? Or has it been an absolute nightmare? See you next week.

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