For many during this crisis, the prospect of remote working has brought either fear, amusement, satisfaction or a justifiable excuse to truly slack off. I have been inundated with memes, gifs and friendly banter from plenty of my friends and family who are not at all used to a remote working set up along those lines.
The reality of the situation could not be more untrue.
I’ve been working for PKB for nearly 2 years now, ‘virtually’ straight out of University, completely remote, with just my dog, Slack and Spotify for company. I’m still, however, very much surprised how many of my peers fear working from home when as undergraduates, we spent the vast majority of our time ‘working remotely’.
Many commentators on remote working and even our own, VP of Engineering has commented that people have different productive working hours. As a student, I used to find working later in the day worked better for me amidst travelling, working part-time in a bar and finishing late.
Grads certainly have the flexibility to meet deadlines and be successful when the traditional office ‘9 – 5’ schedule is broken down. For some, it might even be seen as positive reinforcement that their company doesn’t care when they are productive, but recognises when they are.
In my role in Business Development, 8:30am – 5pm is very much the norm with customers operating within conventional hours, however, this is not to say I haven’t put off administrative or research tasks until later in the day when customers have left work and I’ve had the chance to walk the dog.
‘The world is your office’
As cliche as it may sound, students often find solace in working in the local cafe, bar or park on a sunny day. I certainly did and I was never a fan of drab libraries plagued with silence only broken by occasional coughing. The hum of the coffee shop, an ambient playlist in the background and good coffee always helped me to be more productive.
Remote working offers the opportunity to take that flexible environment approach and really embrace it for the long-term. I really like the fact that when the weather is good, I’m able to sit outside or go to the local coffee shop to get a welcome change of scenery.
This approach also makes the experience less lonely as often you’ll be sat in the same coffee shop, with the same faces around you, all staring at computer screens or chatting away busily on conference calls through headphones. There’s a certain community of remote workers everywhere and it’s the unspoken ‘nod’ or ‘smile’ which identifies you amongst your comrades. Just because you’re ‘working from home’ doesn’t mean that ‘home’ is your only office.
How do you ever switch off?
I think by design, grads have always had a very good ‘off’ switch when it comes to work. This should be exactly the same when you come into a work environment.
It’s very tempting when working from home to think that you should be working all hours of the day, when the reality is, you don’t. Setting yourself a schedule and adhering to it is super important. In my role, there are occasions when a late finish or early start is necessary but we are always encouraged where appropriate to take back some time on a quiet Friday afternoon for those longer days.
Advice for employers.
I am enormously grateful for the trust and faithfulness which PKB gives to its graduates and all staff to work remotely, and I think every person that has come into the company respects that and repays it back with hard work.
Employers should be embracing the exposure to remote working Grads have had for 3-4 years of a degree course and using that experience to shape a working environment which suits both the organisation and the person.
A message to Graduates.
Don’t be anxious about remote working. You’re already used to managing your own time, meeting deadlines and being productive. Be faithful to your employer by producing your best work, whether that is best done at 3am or 3pm – and you will be rewarded with the trust to be autonomous.
Discipline is something you’ve learned throughout your education and remote working is about applying self-discipline, i.e. to not eat the cupboards bare or not meet deadlines.
Be open to flexibility and don’t fear the lack of connection with your colleagues. There are so many tools and best practices out there for generating rapport within your team that your organisation will implement. By default, the Sales Teams always finish their monthly face-to-face team meetings with a few beers and everyone attends.