Tackling that working from home guilt

The workplace has changed dramatically in the last decade. More people are now working remotely, which includes working from the comfort of their own homes. Despite working from home becoming more commonplace, it seems some people still feel that there is a stigma around it

Data from the Office of National Statistics has revealed that the number of UK workers who have moved into remote working has increased by nearly 250,000 over a decade. Although coronavirus has forced many people to work from home for the first time, the trend towards remote working has been happening for a long time

It’s not surprising to see why it’s becoming so popular when you look at the statistics which detail its benefits. According to research by Cardiff University 39% of people who work mostly from home often work additional hours to complete their tasks, compared with only 24% of those in fixed workplaces. In fact, it has been reported that 86% of workers prefer to work alone in order to hit maximum productivity. It has also been reported that companies which invested in technology that allowed their employees the flexibility to work remotely saw productivity rise by 20% and an OddsMonkey report found that working from home increases exponentially when people have the option to do it. 

So, with so many proven benefits, why do those who work from home still experience guilt?

This point about feeling guilty was raised on Twitter when @EmmettNicki tweeted, “Today a valuable working from home day to get my head down and catch up #sbm #sbltwitter,” and  @EmmaRoseEducat1 replied saying, “Working from home days….filled with guilt but you actually get twice as much work done and probably don’t even break for lunch.”

If you chastise yourself for not getting dressed as soon as you wake up, or find yourself over-explaining all the tasks you carried out whilst working from home, it is likely that you have ‘work from home guilt’. Work from home guilt is that slightly shameful feeling you get about not working from a traditional office. However, you don’t need to feel like this. Whether you work remotely all the time, part-time or on an ad hoc basis, there are three steps you can take to not feel guilty about it.

Keep productivity levels high

One of the stigmas surrounding working from home is the notion that remote employees just lie in bed all day, watching Netflix, and don’t actually do any work! The reality is that, if this were true, it would be blatantly obvious as no work would be getting done – arguably, it is just as easy for people to find ways procrastinate in the office as it is at home. As studies have shown, productivity levels are normally higher when people work from home. If you’re meeting your deadlines, fulfilling team goals, and responsive during work hours, it is important to remind yourself that you are just as productive as an in-house employee.

Remind yourself of the statistics

As previously discussed, the statistics are on your side – and you can’t argue with science! In addition to the statistics showing that both productivity and morale can be higher at home, you can also be comforted by the fact you are being more economically and ecologically friendly. Fewer commuters on the road leads to decreased air pollution, and less road traffic, which is a positive for everyone. Furthermore, PGI concluded that 82% of remote workers reported lower stress levels as a result of greater work flexibility and there aren’t many people who can argue that feeling less stressed isn’t a good thing for both the organisation and the individual. 

Maximise your time

People who work from home often have fewer distractions than those who work in an office. If you finish a task early, you can use the spare time to make a head start on another project or do simple tasks you normally don’t have the time for such as updating your calendar, clearing your inbox or organising your to-do list. But, at the same time, don’t feel pressured to work through your lunch break just because you’re at home – take breaks as needed. Making the most of your workday will help you feel less guilty and more enthusiastic towards your work.

Ultimately, your guilt is a result of what people think you’re doing versus what you’re actually doing. Co-workers, managers, and even family and friends may have the wrong idea about your work day, but you don’t have to feel guilty about their perceptions of remote working. Your job is to be a hard-working team member who adheres to company policies and best practices, just like anyone else. 

It is also worth remembering that you were entrusted by your manager to work from home, so they do believe you will be doing your work to the best of your ability at home – otherwise they wouldn’t trust you to work in this way!

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