What we can learn from working from home

Turns out that the 9-5 isn’t as necessary as it once was.

With everything going on in the world meetings are becoming emails or being done by video, travel has come to a halt and working from home may become the non-optional office alternative.

Despite the unfortunate situation that has caused things to change, I can’t help but notice that there is something to learn.

As someone that works in an office less than 50% of what I do requires me to be in the building or to interact with my co-workers.

But I can imagine a time when people used typewriters or even computers that you couldn’t physically take home. Back then, being in your office was necessary to undertake your work.

These days all you need is a laptop and you can use that anywhere.

I’m not championing no longer having an office at all. However, I do think it is worth exploring how often you actually need to be in the company office and the purpose that it serves.

For many it’s the social aspect of going to the kitchen for tea and a catch up with a work pal, it’s meeting people when you’re new to the city, it’s having a space to work for those with limited room at home or those wanting to maintain separation between work and life.

Having an office to go to isn’t necessary for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week but it does come with benefits.

It introduces us to new people, gives us a routine and gives us the opportunity to be part of a culture.

What to do if your manager isn’t helpful

You might feel frustrated but all is not lost.

In a previous post I wrote about job satisfaction and I thought it might be useful to delve into some practical tips. It’s all good and well telling someone what to do but it’s sometimes helpful to tell them how.

So, let’s say you work in an office and your manager is not much help with anything that you need help with. It could be about the work you do or maybe even career progression etc.

What do you do?

It probably gets frustrating but it’s always useful to remember that you always have options.

First up, ask for what you want/need?

Ask confidently, ask a second time.

Don’t be afraid to call people out (politely) when they don’t follow through after assuring you that they’d do xyz.

If you feel like it’s not working, ask someone else.

Chances are even though a manager is their as a main point of call, there’ll be someone else that can help you and someone else that will.

Lastly don’t expect too much from people.

Yes, ask for help when you need it but don’t be reliant on others to drive your ship,  they have their own stuff to do too.

Office work and acting

Things get much more interesting if we think of ourselves as actors.

Something I’ve learnt is that people probably aren’t going to go above and beyond for you. But if you practice confidence and you make yourself visible you’re more likely to get your needs met.

It’s like actors in a show. The main character will always get more attention than the one that just plays a minor role. And in the workplace you get to choose which role you play.

Of course it’s not easy putting yourself in the main role whereas it’s as easy as cherry pie to take the role of a background character.

When you play in the background there’s little expectation, you don’t get much attention and if you don’t show up nobody cares.

So, what happens when the background character wants more responsibility and the opportunity to show up and actually do something that matters, like a main character.

Turns out you can’t have it both ways.

Work and play

They’re both important.

We live in a society where it’s not uncommon to find people almost competing about who works the hardest.

Working a 9to5.

Doing overtime.

Working a 9to5 then a passion project 5to9.

Staying in the office till late.

Being self employed and working 7 days a week.

Coming into the office at the weekend.

We hear about working hard all the time but we rarely hear about play. There’s emphasis on resting from the work. But I’m a big believer in work and play.

I don’t believe in working for the weekend as though those 2 days are your reward for slaving away for the 5 days prior.

My ideas on work and play aren’t about a work life balance but more about just enjoying life as a whole.

So yes, meet your deadlines, impress the clients and do great work but also enjoy it.

Regrets of an aspiring linchpin

Can you guess what book I’ve been reading?

Over a year ago (on my other blog, wordsbygemm) I wrote a post about my job.
Looking back, knowing what I now know I kind of regret my words.

Here’s what I wrote: Maybe, it’s strange that I sort of like being a cog in a machine, doing my bit to support the bigger picture.

I didn’t know it at the time but I’d fallen into a fear based trap. I basically wanted a factory job that presented itself as something else because it was in an office and I was at a computer instead of a machine.

I’d go to work sit at my desk, check emails,  read documents, chat with colleagues, write letters and occasionally make phone calls. That was all I did on a loop pretty much in any random order depending on the day.

But I’ve since seen the light, I suppose. Firstly my level of contentment with how I was showing up at work wasn’t what I thought it would be. I found myself wanting to more.

And so thanks to me choosing to read Seth Godins book linchpin, I’m understanding how I can be better at what I do.

I want to show up at work and add value not just follow instructions, anyone can do that.