Thank you to guest blogger MICHELLE ANG of the Winnipeg Peace Builders Toastmasters Club for writing this post about Working From Home.

Before 2020, the acronym WFH used to be a term reserved only for the esoteric – the programmers, IT freelancers, and modern entrepreneurs who ruled the WWW (World Wide Web). But then in a twist of fate, COVID-19 came along and turned every person’s life upside down, and now many of us are WFH-ing or Working from Home.

My first official job here in Canada was in Montreal – working from the comforts of my home in Winnipeg. That is how “working from home” has always been pitched – you work from the comforts of your home. But how comfortable is it really?

Working from home saves us lots of things:

  • Transportation expenses – your office is within 20-30 steps radius.
  • Time – you can be “at you office” within 3 minutes of waking-up AND THAT’S IF you take the time to brush your teeth and “get dressed” for work.
  • Clothing and grooming – it saves us clothing and grooming costs, especially for women who wear make-up. Why put on make-up when you will only be working in front of your monitors all day!?
  • Preparing my lunch – this is the most personal to me. I find it stressful having to prepare my lunch for the next day. That might be funny and trivial to you, but if there is one thing I am really grateful for, it is the fact that right now, I don’t have to pack lunch for the next day.

On the other hand, WFH also demands a lot from us:

  • Less energy – because it demands less energy from us, it aggravates our already sedentary lifestyle. Imagine doing less than 200 steps in a day!
  • Eat more – food is always within reach. I now eat more than 5 times a day, and it has become a bad habit.
  • A perpetual virtual presence – I don’t know about you, but I feel I need to be present and instantly able to respond to IM messages. I’m always anxious that if I don’t respond right away, the other party might think I am just slacking around.
  • Clarity and conciseness in what we type – now that we are communicating more through IMs and emails, I am even more conscious and careful about the words I use in my messages and the phrasing of my statements. And that’s because now, I can’t as easily use other communication factors like body language, facial expression, tone and pitch in order to express myself.
  • Giving more – since we know that WFH is saving us lots of things and is very convenient, we tend to give more. For example, I now work more than 8 hours a day, and that’s because I don’t mind spending a few extra hours since I’ve already saved some commute time and cost.

WFH clearly has its advantages and disadvantages, and how to make it really work for us will depend on how we manage our circumstances. To keep my sanity and my health, this is what I do:

  • I still try to wake up early every day, although not as early as I would when actually going to work – usually 2 hours before my start time.
  • And because I don’t have to commute anymore, I spend a few minutes stretching and exercising.
  • To make sure I stand-up every so often and stretch out, I drink lots of water so I will be forced to go to the washroom periodically – that’s hitting two birds with the one stone!
  • I set a goal for myself every day to make sure I accomplish even a little task every day. This gives me a sense of feeling that “I am still working.”
  • I try not to be overly sensitive with the messages I receive. Not everyone is gifted with eloquence and not everyone can express themselves accurately through black and white words. So rather than “read between the lines”, I just read the words in the line.

At the end of the day, the perfect work setup is but a figment of the human mind. What is real and achievable is setting up our perspective to make it work perfectly for us.