Blog Tape

by | May 30, 2024 | Communication

Are we working from home, or living at work?

According to the latest Northstar research, we eventprofs love working from home and over half of us say we are more productive when we do. I know I love working from home: I love the flexibility. I work in my office in the garden during the day, and then I bring my laptop into the house so I can work in the evening, and then check emails whilst I’m cooking…  but wait a minute, does this mean that my work’s taking over? Am I living at work rather than working from home?

I do enjoy my work, and I have always prided myself on my ‘work smarter not harder’ mentality, but does the lack of a physical work/ home life divide mean that I’m actually working longer hours? It led me to wonder if this is happening to other event profs too.

I interact with a lot of people on LinkedIn and I always do a Monday morning poll to connect with my network, to gauge opinions, discover trends and learn what’s happening out there in the wider world. So, over a few weeks I asked some questions and discovered that:

When working from home:

  • Only 16% of my contacts take a full hour for lunch (890 votes; 59% said no, 19% said sometimes)
  • 60% of my network continue to work when they are sick (867 votes; 7% said no, 30% said it depends)
  • 55% of respondents leave work later than they do at the office (796 votes; 26% said the same, 9% said earlier)
  • 53% of people start earlier than they would at the office (713 votes; 29% said the same as the office, 8% said later)

But despite us all working longer hours, only 15% of eventprofs in my next poll said they miss working in the office (495 people voted, and 48% didn’t miss the office and 31% said they sometimes did.)

So, what’s going on? Why are we all working longer hours and enjoying it?

The WFH Vs the office debate continues to rage on. On one side we seem to have a generation telling us “I’m not coming back into the office because my work output is great and my work / life balance is great”. But on the other side, another generation of company owners are saying “I want you back in the office because I think you’re not working.” I’m sure that the Northstar research is often cited by employees fighting to stay home. But if an employee is delivering 10% more output but working 15% more hours, then productivity has actually gone down, not up.

Either way, I think we need to look at things a bit differently.

When an employee insists they can deliver everything and more whilst at home and via Zoom meetings, they are missing a crucial point. Our working lives can’t just be measured by productivity, there is a bigger picture consisting of human interactions, team working and camaraderie.

WFH means the soft skills that people pick up from more experienced colleagues by just listening are lost. The everyday interactions we have – with everyone from the receptionist to the colleague in the kitchen to the person in the coffee shop on the way to work – are lost.

Creativity seems to be going downhill; Agency owners tell me that pitches aren’t going well because it’s much harder to pull people together to collaborate on an idea when working from home. The days of just grabbing someone to discuss an idea over a coffee have been replaced by scheduled Zoom chats. Hardly the best way to get the creative juices flowing.

There’s also the social/class divide; many older people have the space to work comfortably from home but things are not so easy for the younger employee on a reduced wage and living and working in the same room all day or sharing space with others WFH. What if you moved to London to start an exciting career at a creative events agency? You may be left wondering how to meet new people now many of the after-work drinks and social interactions have gone. I met my wife through work; she was in a different department and I would never have met her if we were all working in silos from home (other ways of dating are available).

There has to be a balance struck between want employees want and what businesses need, and we have to consider all the nuances of working life. We are a creative industry; we need to stop focusing on our output because no-one joined our industry to be another brick in the wall (one for us oldies there).

 

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