Summer started and my flexible working arrangement was approved…great! I said an enthusiastic goodbye to that sweltering subway ride to our HQ in the Big Apple. I’ve been taking nice brisk walks around the park at lunch with the dog and enjoying an ice-cream cone with my kid at 3 pm when she gets back from day-camp. One day I had an amazingly unexpected (and much needed) power nap when an hour-long conference call canceled at the last minute!
So far you’re probably thinking that being a part of the remote working trend sounds like a dream! (Between us…who hasn’t begged the boss for more workplace flexibility?)
Here’s the surprising secret: sometimes working from home, or being part of an agile enterprise is not the sweet dream it’s built-up to be. If you don’t know the insider tips it can be a nightmare. I found out the hard way two weeks ago when my neighbors had a birthday pool party for their 9-year-old son. There were 18 screaming children playing Marco Polo for longer than I thought was humanly possible. They were at it from before my second iced coffee until sunset.
Even without those rare (and kind of amusing) moments when real life interrupts my workday, I found working from home can be lonely sometimes. There are days when I actually do miss the stimulating interaction with others in a professional office setting. The social ties of an office environment are missing for many of us remote workers, or those with exhausting commutes like my brother who lives in Los Angeles (don’t get me started).
Turns out, I’m not alone. A recent Harvard Business Review study shows that while people “like” the flexibility of being allowed to work from home, they often get so isolated that it actually impacts their productivity levels, and ultimately, their job satisfaction. Being around people from other industries or professions can trigger creativity and innovation, not to mention new ways of doing things with the tools we all love to hate (excel is my personal nemesis.)
I was on the fence about working from home. While there are an abundance of work-life balance benefits, it still needs to have a positive impact on my job performance. So I asked myself “Could we have it all?”. After all, if that little boy next door can have his cake and eat it too – why can’t we? My curiosity piqued and I immediately did a bunch of research to find out the best way to make workplace flexibility really a good match for you and for your company.
Here is one really good way to make working outside the office more efficient:
Get your boss to let you work out of different coworking locations when you need a break from your home-base. You can pick one that is close to home, or next to that big appointment in the city next week, or even just pop into one near where you’ve booked dinner reservations so you don’t hit rush hour traffic. For those on business trips, it’s a great option for when your flight is delayed and you don’t want to go on a scavenger hunt for a working outlet at the airport, and wait at your terminal for hours.
There’s even an app that companies love that makes it possible! Ask your HR team about Upflex. It offers a centralized dashboard that invoices management at HQ when a pre-approved team member books a set of hours/full day at one of the thousands of coworking locations featured on the Upflex app. The experience reminded me a bit like Uber (open the app and it shows you what’s available nearby). The thing my boss loves is the centralized invoicing of my time, which also eliminates me having to do expense report submissions if I do opt to use my coworking benefits.
More and more companies are letting remote workers occasionally work in a coworking space! Here’s why: according to Harvard Business Review, people who get to spend time in coworking spaces found their work more meaningful and felt more in control of their job. They also felt a sense of community with others in the space. So that means there is a way to get a lot of work done and also get the fix of being around others.
The researchers found that “For companies, allowing and paying for employees to work out of coworking spaces offers many benefits. In addition to reducing remote work loneliness, coworking spaces provide excellent business and technology infrastructure, strong networking opportunities, and exposure to innovative companies, products, and services. Companies will also benefit from having happier, more engaged, and more productive workers.”
While I am tempted to get all academic about it and share a bunch of extracts from the different resources and leading magazines like Forbes and Inc., it could get boring fast. So I came up with some neat infographic illustrations to share the stats and spread the word!
I found popping into a coworking space whenever I want to or need to (like when the buzz of a lawnmower and another marathon of Marco Polo happen on the same day) to be a great way for me to be happy, productive and feel less isolated.
Working for a company that understands flexible policy is great, but it has to be done right. Make sure it is a mutually beneficial arrangement between you and your management, where both of you agree on when, where, and how work gets done it turns out you will get a lot done and be happy about it! Remember – the “where” part is the killer app!