🏡WFH: Friend Or Foe?

We’ve been through a once-in-a-lifetime-pandemic. A black swan event that turned our realities topsy-turvy. From baking banana bread to hoarding loo rolls, we’ve seen it all. Who would’ve thought that WFH would become an actual thing that would see pyjama bottoms replace starched suit trousers that once walked the City. Daily strolls in nature became our go-to as we said goodbye to all those bustling Pret visits while pub nights turned into a never-ending season of Zoom bingo. Lockdown, what a time!

We’ve had this life for over a year now and some of the habits have stuck. But there’s one in particular that’s lingered around more than others: the notion of flexible working. Covid-19 shone a light on the real need – and want – to be able to work on our own terms. Want to work 5 days from home? Sure. Fancy a hybrid 3-2? No problemo. In fact, 60% of workers want this flexibility when this pandemic is finally over. And will they get it? Only time will tell. 

For those of you who are in camp WFH, wanting it to stretch far beyond the pandemic, have realised that you can still get that same salary regardless of whether your office is parked in your bedroom or in Canary Wharf. We’ve enjoyed over a year of spending more time with our loved ones when we would normally be dashing out the door or flying right in, after a long, hard day. Having breakfast with our partners, parents and kids with no mad morning rush soon became the norm and our evenings became longer. For better or worse. 

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A couple months back when at a vaccine centre I came across an assuming fellow and, you know me, I do love a good schmooze especially with someone new so I introduced myself. We got chatting and it turns out that he’s a a trader at a large investment bank. We exchanged our lockdown experiences and he told me that it gave him the gift of being able to spend more time with his family. The hours of a trader are unforgiving but thanks to WFH, he was able to tuck his little girl into bed and even squeeze in a story. Oh, and that was at 8pm. Pre-Covid, he didn’t see the back of the office till 10pm, at the earliest.

But let’s fast-forward a couple months. The novelty of WFH has worn off and some people are getting really itchy to get out and see people in the office. Perhaps they’re tired of their makeshift workspace or they’ve discovered how much of a social butterfly they really are and couldn’t bare being alone. These were the folk who rushed to the office as soon as they were given the green light. 

No boundaries 

WFH blurred the lines between work and home. The two quickly began to morph into one another. And then came the burnout. You can’t remember what day of the week it is let alone what month of the year we’re in. Thanks to an ever-so-small commute from your bed to your workspace, there was no forced separation between home life and work life. 

Work and home are two (very) separate parts of our lives and I think, to a large degree, they need to remain so. No one wants to be having roast dinner with their partner or playing monopoly with their kids whilst thinking about that work laptop that’s just staring at them in the face from 2ft away, whining to you ‘Please Open Me’. Maybe we need to learn the art of switching off. Or maybe we just need to get back to the office already.

Working from home this year wasn’t all that some had made it out to be. I am a social person by nature and for me, a large part of any job, is the people. Now if I can’t properly interact with new colleagues this would be a real shame. I soon missed the buzz of office life, the hustle and bustle of commuting (and the joy that brings), to meet new people, talk to strangers and well, just be busy.

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But there were some benefits to WFH: I saved hundreds of pounds from avoiding not commenting everyday and I didn’t spend money on coffees with colleagues or post-work drinks. This all adds up. It also afforded me more time in the evenings to work on personal projects. And my family got to see a whole lot more of me. A win-win.

The City misses us 

I walked past what was once a shoeshiner stand but has since closed and the streets looked awfully clean. Too clean. Our City is longing for its inhabitants. It misses that fresh morning buzz, hearing the clanking sound of those polished shoes and that dash to the tube station after a long day at work.

Let’s face it, we’re social creatures at heart. This year’s shown us that. We thrive when we’re together, bouncing ideas off of each other. And that’s what the innovation (and magic) happens. Not on a stale Zoom call. 

For anyone wanting to climb the ladder, being at the office will mean that you are visible. People will get to know you because it’s not who you know but who knows you that matters. You’ll also get to have those impromptu coffee chats and daily natter at the water cooler. Oh, I adore those.

I’m afraid, turning up to a Zoom meeting 5 or 10 mins early doesn’t have that same affect as arriving into a meeting earlier than most and being able to catch-up with someone senior. This one’s been tried and tested. Plus, being on camera 24/7 is a tiresome ask no matter what they tell you. At the end of each day, my neck felt stiff and my eyes were so dry. I tried to get some fresh air in between meetings but Zooming all day long is no small feat. 

Grab those in-person opportunities for they will propel your career beyond belief because it’s not who you know but who knows you. So, if you’re thinking about ditching the office altogether, stop and think what it is you really want and crucially, what will be best for you and your career. 

Pick your opportunity cost wisely.

Your office will be right there waiting for you, wherever that may be.  

Disclaimer: This blog is not investment or financial advice. It is my opinion only. This blog is not a personal recommendation to buy/sell any security, or to adopt any such investment strategy. Always do your own research before you commit to any investment.