Working from Home: The New Normal
Can Homes Offer A Good Working Environment?
There is no black and white answer to this question. What work environment is suitable varies from individual to individual. Some might consider a special workplace (like an office) as unnecessary especially for work that can be done remotely and doesn’t require the employee to network. Others might consider that a home is too comfortable to do any type of work. A home is a place to rest and relax. How can it possibly provide an environment that motivates you to get work done?
On top that, there is psychological conditioning among us that work can only be done in a special official space while wearing formal clothes. This conditioning has been developed over years of observing our elders ‘going to’ work after donning their formal attires. We have not yet been able to detach official work from many of its nuances like travelling to work, separate official space and formal attire. There is also a lack of data to support whether work from home is possible. We need more examples of people in diverse professional fields getting the job done in their pyjamas before we can answer the titular question with certainty. Before that happens, we simply cannot know whether homes can provide a work environment or not.
Pandemic Brings Massive Changes
This pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has brought about a sea change in the work culture across the world. Out of necessity, we have started doing most of the work remotely and have discovered that certain jobs can be accomplished in the home setup which we have erstwhile not thought possible. This has given a huge boost to the work from home ecosystem but whether a home is a sustainable work environment is yet to be seen. Much data is required regarding the productivity of employees in the home environment and whether it is feasible to do a particular job from home.
Home Environment vs Workplace Environment
As of now, we can say with certainty that there are marked differences in our home environment and work environment. The most obvious difference is the design; our office spaces look austere and professional while our homes are designed to look more casual and relaxing. There are pros and cons of both the workplace environment and home environment. Let us have a look at them:
- Encourages teamwork and innovation
It has been noticed that the productivity of most employees increase when they are working from home, but innovative ideas come only in the office. The office environment, presence of colleagues and easy proximity to communication and collaboration facilitate innovation. It also encourages teamwork among the employees which is the key to getting work done.
- There is a fixed work time
An office runs for a fixed number of hours in a day. This instigates us to get work done in those fixed hours, which in turn allows us to better organise our time. Such a schedule means we work from this hour to that hour and the rest of the time is at our disposal to be dispensed as we please.
- Office environment is motivating
Everyone in an office is working, getting tasks completed, is focused, is achieving targets and goals. So much of visual stimuli is bound to motivate even the most demotivated person in this world.
- No commute
India has one of the most hectic and chaotic public transport systems in the world. Even if you have an alternative way of travelling to the office, there is the problem of the busy and overcrowded roads. All of these can be avoided if your office is the very house you live in. Moreover, you save the time you would spend travelling and money you would spend on public transport or petrol.
- Increased productivity
Home gives us a relaxed environment that doesn’t stress us out. It is quieter, provides less distraction and all of these combined increase the productivity of the employee. They need fewer breaks and can give more hours to work.
- You can give time to your passion project
When you are working from home, the last thing you are is exhausting. You have the energy and time to author a book, write lyrics, create content for your YouTube channel, pen a movie script, make arrangements to start a business etc. Your passion will have what it needs the most: your attention and efforts.
As has already been said, commuting in India is hectic and chaotic. Travelling to the office is a stressful event that leaves you exhausted. And if you live in a place that has a hot climate, you have a second bath with your own sweat as you travel in an overcrowded public bus.
- Office politics
In the dark underbelly of any office space lies office politics. Office politics is a disgusting phenomenon that humiliates you, dehumanizes you, make you face injustice and overly complicates your life. It is also one of the major reasons of mental health deterioration of many employees.
- Work tends to bleed into leisure hours
When you work from home, there are no fixed hours of work. Start and stop times are not well defined. You might complete 20% of the work in the morning then spend 2 hours watching a movie. Then complete 30% more in the afternoon before taking a nap. The rest you complete before bedtime. This way you are working less intensely but you are working throughout the day. This messes up your day to day schedule massively.
The home provides a relaxing work environment. So relaxing that you might find yourself procrastinating. Unless you are a motivated individual, work from home will sing disaster in your life.
Work from Home Essentials: Must-Haves That Every Home Office Needs
You need certain objects to turn your home into an office space. Follow this BP Guide for work from home must-haves that will make your home office a better one:
This laptop from HP features Intel i3 10th gen processor, 8 GB RAM, Intel integrated graphics processor, 256 GB SSD and comes with Windows 10 OS 64 bit and MS Office pre-installed in it. These specifications will allow you to run any low to medium demanding applications and almost all work-related applications smoothly. The screen size is 14 inches and it has HD display and HD webcam, the design is sleek and the total weight is around 1.50 kilograms. So it is not a cumbersome product. The laptop has one type-A USB port and one Type C USB port, an HDMI port and a 3 in 1 card reader slot. It lacks an optical disk drive but it is not a disadvantage as CDs and DVDs are near extinction. You can buy this laptop from Flipkart for Rs. 39,039.
This foldable laptop desk is of the dimensions 60 cm x 40 cm x 27.5 cm and is made of high quality engineered wood top board supported by powder-coated metal tubes. It is equipped with a cup holder, a tablet holder and a drawer thus you can not only place your laptop on it for work but also other essentials to get your work done like USB cords, pen drives, paper files, ledgers etc. The rounded edges ensure safety and you can put this laptop desk on your bed and work from there. This laptop desk can be bought from Amazon for Rs. 1,999.
This rectangular-shaped memory foam cushion is ideal for office chairs. It provides superior comfort, gives you a healthy posture, improves blood circulation in your back and relieves back pain which is the result of prolonged sitting. It is made from anti-flattening memory foam and is designed to suit the contours of your back perfectly to maximize comfort. The cover of the cushion is made from an air mesh fabric which keeps your back cool and it is washable. There are two straps attached with the cushion to secure it with the back of the chair to prevent slippage. Get this cushion for Rs. 1,990.
Anti-Glare Screen Guard
This anti-glare screen is a must-have for anyone who spends a considerable amount of time staring at the screen. The screen is magnetic and hence can be attached and detached from your laptop screen. You need not stick it like a screen guard. The size of the screen is 14 inches. It reduces strain on the eyes by 70% and you can buy it for Rs. 4,500.
This creative gadget ensures that your tea remains hot during your busy work hours so that when you finally get the time amidst your business to sip your tea, it is not a cold or lukewarm liquid. It is a plugged gadget that uses conduction method for heating and touch technology for operation. You can set the temperature anywhere between 40 degree Celsius to 65 degrees Celcius. The heating platform is made from the industrial plate and has a diameter of 9.5 cm. It is easy to clean as well; just wipe it with a cloth. The cord length is 62 cm and it is of Type M. This gadget can be bought for Rs. 2,699.
Indoor Plant Set
An indoor plant set is required to give a calm atmosphere to the room. Such an atmosphere will help reduce your stress levels. This set of indoor plants consists of 4 different types of plants each of which is embedded in a plastic pot. They are one money plant, one Syngonium plant, one Jade plant and one Sansevieria plant. They are potted in green, black, white and red coloured pots respectively. Each plant is of 6 to 8 inches in height and the pots measure 3 x 3 inches each. You can but this plant set for Rs. 1,399.
Do Not Disturb Poster
Those of you who live in homes where privacy is a myth need this poster before anything else. You do not want any family member to barge in the room while you are amidst an important discussion with a client. Vistaprint is an online one-stop-shop for anything you want to print. They have a user-friendly interface and with the tools available on their website, you can design a Do Not Disturb Poster all on your own. Or if you are good with Photoshop or similar applications, then you can design a poster in them and have it printed in your preferred poster size on Vistaprint. Paste that poster on the door of the room you are working in and make sure everyone respects it without fail. Price ranges from Rs. 140 to Rs 320.
Neck and Back Massager
Our necks and backs bear most of the brunt of working at a desk and a good massage at the end of the day are what we need to relieve ourselves of the sore necks and backs. This massager cushion has 4 nodes that rotate in a kneading fashion and relieves muscle knots, tensions and aches. The nodes also have a heating feature that improves blood circulation and adds to the feeling of relief. It is designed in such a way that it fits perfectly with the nape of your neck and back. You can recharge this cushion with the household power adapter that comes with it. You can buy this cushion for Rs. 3,500.
Earphones with Mic
This earphone with mic is compatible with both computer and phone. It has a noise cancellation feature and buttons to control the volume when on-call or when listening to music. It is comfortable to wear and is a welcome alternative to those large headphones with mic. Besides, it is sweat proof. Extra earbuds and ear hooks are attached with the package. You can buy this earphone for a price of Rs. 1,490.
This cushioned swivel chair is of the dimensions 37 inches x 19 inches x 19 inches. The seating height of this chair is adjustable and can go up to 18 inches from the floor. The seat and back are made of cushioned grey coloured fabric ensuring maximum comfort. There are no armrests in this chair. This swivel chair is priced at Rs. 10,199.
Get Creative and Produce Your Best Work with These Home Office Essentials!
Working from home is a skill. For some, working remotely has been a way of life over the last few months. It can be challenging at first, but over time, with experience and some forward-thinking, you can create a very productive and fun working atmosphere. But no work from home can hit that level without any investment, and the right tools and equipment in place. Build your work-from-home office over time. Add new features, make tweaks. Get used to setting limits and drawing lines between attention and comfort. And these 10 essentials will go a long way to making your home office a wonderful place to go to work every day.