Work From Home (WFH) Guilt and what you can do to overcome it.

For several years, working parents, frequent travelers and digital nomads have been fighting for more flexibility in their work. The requests have always been met with uncertainty, question marks and a general feeling of uneasiness.

Yet there is an overwhelming body of evidence to support WFH employees being as productive, if not more productive, than their office or field bound counterparts. Many companies have always had WFH as an option in their conditions of service and policies; but it was only implemented as an exception rather than the norm until COVID-19 intervened.

Interestingly enough, when we were all in-house employees, we were never accused of relaxing on company time. Getting up and commuting to work was enough to “convince” people that we were a busy (and thus, productive) member of the workforce.

Now that most of us have been forced to from home, some people ask questions like, “Do you take naps during the day?” (we do), “Do you work in your pajamas?” (sometimes we do), and “Do you work normal hours?” (we most certainly do, but with far less boundaries).

Depending on circumstances, people average between 4 and 6 hours of productive worktime per day in an office setting. Just think about the chats with colleagues, the impromptu meetings at the printer, that morning coffee before we get started or that internet search that takes us into a rabbit-hole of new discoveries. We can all relate to this, yet we don’t feel one bit of guilt about? Why?

It probably has something to do with those bits not being seen as an issue because of our physical presence in the workplace. With our hand being forced by the Covid-19 situation, many of us would not have had much time to prepare ourselves for this, so how do we adapt and how do we make the most out of it:

 Give yourself grace: Adapting to working from home can be challenging in itself, yet we’re now having to do it in the midst of all the challenges that go with lockdown.  Forgive your colleagues: They too are battling to navigate the challenges of being a full time employee, full time parent and full time teacher at the same time.  Have regular check-ins: Schedule frequent check-ins with the teams you usually interact with in person. It helps to keep you feeling connected.  Make provision for the glitches: Chairing an online meeting? Set the actual start time, but also indicate a window of 15 min before the start for people to log on and overcome technical issues with joining. (Bonus tip, ask everyone to mute, unless they’re speaking).  Set boundaries and manage expectations: Whatsapp groups, your PC being set up and ready to work at any time and the guilt itself, all play a role in creating blurred lines.  Focus on productivity, rather than the clock. Together with your line manager, set and confirm what is expected of you for the week and then focus on getting those things done at a level that you take pride in, rather than the clock.  Seek support.  Last but not least, we remind you again: Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others.

We are in this together and we will get through this together.