The U.S. spends a lot of time in an office, with the average worker coming in at 8.7 hours a day and entrepreneurs, on average, clocking in well more than 60 hours in a week. With changing skills and roles in the workforce, we are seeing the traditional workspace changing. And, ever since Fifth Harmony showed us how cool it was to not go to work, more people are working from home.
In the U.S., 43% of the workforce has spent at least some time working remotely, and that number has steadily increased throughout recent years. Why shouldn’t it increase? Working from home is great. Your schedule is more flexible, you have the ability to travel, avoid office politics and maybe even exercise regularly. But, just like Akon in the early 2000’s, it could be quite lonely. For those of you counting at home, that’s two subpar and obscure music references in eight sentences. Other downsides of not being in a shared office are the lack of collaboration and distractions at home.
The biggest reported struggle of remote work is the lack of community. Company culture is hard to develop if people aren’t physically present and interacting face-to-face. That said, there are some companies that made it work, like InVision or Elastic whose workforces were fully distributed from day one.
If you don’t work from home, you are probably thinking, “how do I convince my boss to let me do it?”
Buffer conducted a study called the State of Remote Work that provides a great case study. The hyperlink is included in the title, but just open it in a new tab for now, and read the rest of my post first. Sure, their paper has more statistics and is “coherent” and “readable”. But, this is also pretty good.
Explain to your boss that Buffer, a fully distributed team with no office, allows everyone to work where they are the happiest. Even employees who want to work in an RV. And they have an employee retention rate of 91%. So, they either are doing something right, or Elizabeth Holmes is in charge of how they showcase their numbers.
China’s largest travel agency also tried this idea out on 250 workers, where half worked from home and half stayed in the office. The Company saved $2,000 per-employee annually and there was a 13% rise in productivity from the remote workers, with them working 9.5% longer during the test period. It also reduced staff turnover, since 50% less people left the company.
Before you go all-in with the work from home pitch. It is important to note the downsides. In the travel agency case, the work from home employees, despite the increase in productivity, took twice as long to be promoted as their office-based colleagues. It could just be out of sight out of mind.
This was an interesting disconnect for me, because when you can’t see someone all day long, the only thing you have to evaluate is their work. Managers can’t evaluate employees based on “Was she here at 8am sharp?” or “Did he take too many ping pong breaks?” and “Are those ping pong breaks even helping? I saw his backhand on Friday and there’s still barely any topspin.”
All you have is the ability to judge what a person actually did today. And since it was proven that there was a 13% rise in productivity from the remote workers, shouldn’t that correlate with more promotions?
I don’t have the answer to this disconnect, but that’s the ComedySeller for ya, you leave the blog with more questions than answers. Like, “Wow, he’s really still doing this?” and “Should we stop telling him this is “funny”? Maybe it’s our fault.”
So, by now you have probably convinced your boss to let you try it out. First of all congrats, and you’re welcome. Now how do you make the most of it?
Start with your work from home set-up. If you have the opportunity to work from home, fill your home with Natural Light. Always helps take the edge off at the end of a long day. Also, introducing sunlight helps. Maybe even buy yourself a nice plant.
Next is self-discipline. Tim Ferris share that he values “self-discipline, but creating systems that make it next to impossible to misbehave is more reliable than self-control.” Create a system where there is a clear separation for what is work and what is relaxation. Don’t mix the two. Some things are better separate. Looking at you Cranberry juice. No one wants your cran-apple, cran-orange, cran-banana juice. Even if it’s just 5 minutes of going out to get a coffee before you start your day, that can help make sure you are leaving your home space and returning to your workspace.
If you need to procrastinate, procrastinate productively. The worst feeling is procrastinating by scrolling through Instagram for 45 minutes and you’re left feeling guilty and angry. Procrastinating productively is based on a simple concept. Completely disengage from work. It really doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it has nothing to do with work. Get out of your workspace. And stick to that set amount of time. If you’ve given yourself a 20 minute break, then take that 20 minutes.
If you need to be out of your home, but not in the office, check out Breathr or Spacious. And if you really want to get away from the office, RemoteYear could be a great option.
By the end of 2020, Gen Z will comprise 36% of the global workforce. Gen Z grew up in an internet-centric society and are more inclined to seek remote or flexible working arrangements, rather than pursue traditional corporate roles. How you and your business adapt to these office and employee changes is up to you.
I am a 25 year-old venture capitalist and amateur stand-up comedian living in NYC.