One of the most common arguments against remote working is that people won’t get as much done remotely as they would in the office, but how much work really happens at the office? I mean truly, if you think about where and when you are most productive, is it at the office when everyone is there, or is it when you are somewhere else or on your own?
How many of us “come into the office early to get stuff done before everyone gets in” or “stay late once everyone has gone at night”? I know I have done this many times when working in office environments and know many people that still do this now. What does this say about the office and its impact on productivity?
How often do you see people book meeting rooms or quiet spaces to focus on getting things done? Or sit with a pair of headphones on, blocking out the noise around them? For a variety of roles and work – programming, writing, designing, and editing to name just a handful, having some isolation to focus is key to enabling you to get the job done effectively. This is especially true in modern open plan offices which can mean hundreds or thousands of people are in the same space.
I am a big football fan, and when I last worked in an office regularly myself and a few others would often talk about the weekend’s results. The problem was that I would get in earliest (to get things done before people turned up!) and then over the next couple of hours people would walk in, say good morning, and then start chatting about the weekend’s results. This would then take a few minutes before we settled back into work, and then another person would come in and start it all again. By the time everyone got into the office we could have discussed the same set of results 5 times. I am not against office chat, but it all adds up and every time would break me out of the work I was focussed on.
Not only did it break my focus, but also broke the focus of others in the office who were not interested in the results but trying to work. We were not being intentionally loud but i certain sized office spaces when a few people start talking in a group it inevitably distracts those nearby. I have worked in offices where you cannot focus because of people having phone calls and discussions, all work related, just not related to the work I am doing and distracting me from that.
One of the benefits of working remotely is the ability to be able to focus more effectively on your work with fewer distractions. You don’t need to go and hide away in a conference room, you choose where you work so you can find somewhere that works best for you, free of the things that would distract you. So remember, next time someone says to you that they people need to go into the office to work, ask them if they ever go in early or late to power through items when there are fewer people there? Or if they book a quiet spot to get things done? It might help them to realise that often the office is not the best place to do work at all.