How to Discard Work-from-Home Guilt
Most companies have encouraged or facilitated their employees to work from home, in light of the new circumstances and conditions that we must become accustomed with. And although advantages are numerous (no commute time, less office distractions, more personal satisfaction, increased independence, cost savings), there is a phenomenon which threatens to cut the joy from this experience and turn it into a kind of ordeal or misery.
Unexpectedly, remote work seems to trigger feelings of guilt in workers, thus determining them to fall into the trap of having negative feelings about themselves and their work, doubting their own performance or their commitment to the company, experiencing burnout, not being able to find motivation or separate home from work life, lack of socialization and so on.
No more balance
The pandemic has blurred the line between our home and professional lives, causing these two distinct worlds to collide every day, resulting in heightened inner tensions and stress. Balancing homeschooling, parenting, work, spending time with family or with a spouse and caring for one’s own needs has resulted in the fact that people forget or neglect to take breaks during work hours, whereas many of the ones who do put their activity on pause feel guilty afterwards or worried that their productivity could decrease or they might lose their jobs.
What if the boss thinks they are slacking off? What if he suspects they are actually taking care of house chores instead of professional tasks? As uncertainty and guilt creep in, employees start to work longer hours and dedicate more of their time and energy to work, thus attempting to counteract these negative feelings.
However, a vicious cycle can be created in this manner, because shame and remorse erode productivity, efficiency and morale at work, also triggering conflicts and frustration in the household.
Here are a few suggestions so as to not feel guilty when you don’t need to.
1. Remind yourself that you are more productive than you may feel
Numerous studies show that, against all expectations and misconceptions, employees who work from home are actually more dedicated and productive than when they were present at the office or in the workspace. This growth in performance is usually attributed to the fact that people can hold more meetings or operate more calls per day, since they are more focused and relaxed, being in a more comfortable and familiar environment. Also, workers tend to take less or smaller breaks and fewer sick days, since illnesses or accidents are more unlikely to happen when mobility is restricted.
We now have the tools, the software and communication channels to keep in touch with everyone we need to collaborate with, we have the necessary equipment and infrastructure in our own homes, we are readier and more open than ever to do so, therefore why hesitate and doubt ourselves? Examine your own situation and see if you are selling yourself short or criticizing yourself for something that you are only imagining.
2. You are probably saving your employer good money
Many companies compensate employees for transportation, food, childcare or gym memberships. With remote work or even mobility restrictions in large parts of the world, everything takes place inside the home — people can care for their children themselves, which gives them more quality time with family and creating memories together, the food comes out of one’s own fridge and the need for transportation to the office and back is obsolete.
Firms no longer spend so much on rent and utilities, cleaning services and taxes, thus being left with larger profits that they can keep, reinvest in the business or share with employees, in the form of bonuses or benefits.
So if you believe your boss is doing you a favor by allowing you to work from home, consider the fact that the advantages go both ways.
3. Remote work might become the new normal
Companies have seen such success in this somewhat forced experiment that they are thinking of implementing it long-term or even permanently. So you might think that you will soon return to the way things used to be, but your employer might feel differently, so make sure you discuss it with him and set the record straight, so that everyone knows what expectations and plans to set up.
4. You are saving the planet
With the elimination of commute and a reduction in the consumption of electricity and other resources from huge office buildings, there is actually a positive change in the Earth’s pollution levels and greenhouse emissions. Improved air quality has great effects on people’s health and in restoring the environment for animals and plants alike. We are slowly healing the planet and this trend should continue long into the future.
The increase of digitalization has also lessened the use of paper, thus saving trees and forests; eating home-made meals has diminished the use of plastic containers, bags and cutlery; Zoom or Skype meetings have cut the need for long-distance travel, therefore less fuel was used and turned into carbon dioxide. These are invaluable benefits that should make you feel proud to be contributing to such an important event.
Embrace the change
Working remotely may not be viable in all situations, but it is clearly unfeasible for us to return, as a society, to the level of in-office work we had in the past. As we come together to shape a new tomorrow, it is fundamental that we take this opportunity and create a more sustainable workstream.
At TRISOFT, we believe working from home is also proving to be a more productive work environment than the typical office, which may help everyone have a better work-life balance, which is an objective most of us would like to reach. So cut the guilt and replace it with gratitude, self-confidence and empowerment. You’ve earned it.