The experience of remote working

With offices opening back up in the UK, I’ve been reflecting on why working remotely has been a good experience for some.

Working remotely is great when it means

  • Not having to commute to an office on crowded transport, or navigate traffic and find a car parking space — pure joy.
  • The temperature of the environment you’re working in is adjustable. I’ve spent way too much time in freezing air-conditioned rooms that are not comfortable for everyone [1]
  • It can be as loud or as quiet as you like. Not everyone can concentrate with music on, not everyone can concentrate in silence. One size does not fit all.
  • It’s possible to not be interrupted every 5 minutes. This requires setting some expectations on the speed of replies to people and being disciplined in turning off notifications. It takes 23 minutes to get back on track after being distracted [2]
  • Digital is a real enabler to bringing more diversity into teams, whether that is hiring someone from another county or a different country. Not everyone has to afford to live close to the office, and it shows that we certainly don’t need to travel 3 hours to have a meeting.
  • What I wear is want I want to wear and not what I should wear.
  • I’ve found there is more time to learn, read, sit in the sun and slow down; as well as having more time to spend with people you really want to.

Working remotely is not a great idea

  • When you are homeschooling children and working at the same time.
  • When you don’t have the space to have a working only area.
  • When you are forced into remote working and you’re not sure how to, or don’t want to do it.

It seems that the physical workplace has been designed for extroverts [3] even though there is probably as many introverts and ambiverts in the world.

I do think getting together with teams is a great idea when you want to get to know each other and increase psychological safety. Feeling everyone’s energy can be invigorating and is not something as easily achieved over Zoom. But this seems more about learning to be together, rather than having to work together.

Working out how we like to work is a useful way to figure out how to work smarter, but not necessarily harder to be more productive.

This post is part of a series of atomic essays on Twitter for #Ship30for30

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