I used to be office based, like the 99.9% ( i think) of Singapore based employees. For the longest time, for eg, in my almost 9 years in this industry, the idea of working from home has always been there for my colleagues in this industry for OTHER countries so it’s nothing new.
I work for an American company in the medical industry, the main office for France is somewhere in Paris. There are probably 200 -300 of us working remotely from our homes in France alone. Some roles are necessary to be office based, and many others like mine do not need to be in the office at all. Does it work?
Why would it work? It works because even though i work across regions (Europe, US and Asia regions), all of my work could be done via emails, and conference calls and as long as i have the internet, i can work – which means anywhere basically.
I’ve heard alot of comments from friends or random strangers on their envy when i tell them that i work from home, my friends think i’m doing manicure, pedicure, start and end work whatever time i want, and i get to watch tv while working on the sofa etc. People are full of imagination, makes me laugh. BUT IT’S NOT LIKE THIS.
To be honest, when i knew back then in Singapore, that i was going to be working from home in France , i was not exactly hopping around in glee. I was sincerely worried for my mental health =)
What exactly makes working from home so good? It’s so good because of these few things:
- I get 1.5 hours more of sleep more than Sam, who has to shower, make his coffee, gel his hair, choose his clothes, drive to work which are all things i do not have to do anymore.
- Literally i roll out of my bed at 8.45am, get to my work desk by 9am, switch on the laptop and start working. I make my breakfast along the way and have it while working ( i am used to having my breakfast during work as i did in the office).
- And yes you are right too. I work in my PJs, and i LOVE it. No, i don’t comb my hair or put anything on my face. Are you kidding, i’m home.
- I do not have to squeeze in public transports or drive through traffic jams to get off work. I get off work around 6-7pm and i am already home, don’t you love this?
- I get to monopolise the home speaker for myself, put on any songs that i want. Have alittle dance sometimes
- I get to do yoga during lunch
- I get my housework done during availability between
- I do not have to buy new dresses or clothes or shoes or makeup often, these are things from my past life
- Flexibility. It’s not true that i get to choose my start and end time of work, we all have main working hours to comply to but this is one of the best thing ever.
I read an article recently and author claims that we get to save up to 15,000k USD just by working from home. Saving from public transport/traveling, work clothes/makeup, lunch expenses etc. Wonder if that’s true, because i certainly didnt as much as 15,000k USD worth of savings from last year, but i must say, there are some truth in this. Not this amount, but substantial savings still.
Working from home is perfect for for working mothers, unfortunately this is not me yet.
The negative part of working from home:
- I am truly isolated. Some weeks, i could have stayed home for 4 days straight without leaving the house or seeing anyone else but Sam. I talk to colleagues on the phone conferences yes, but nothing replaces face to face interactions
- I do not have colleagues to go drink coffee with, or have tea breaks with
- It’s truly not helping me learn French at all – having noone to speak French to
- Boundary issues, when to stop working when you can be working anytime, anyday
- I cook my own lunchs ( and dinners), if you think this is easy, try doing it every damn day while you have meetings going on at random timings like 12pm to 1pm.
- My electricity bills are higher because i live out of this home
- I literally did not have a proper set of work clothes or pair of shoes that i could wear when i was asked to go to Vienna for work. Inconvenient but not devastating, easily fixed by going shopping but well, it’s the fact that i have to go shop for things that i do not really need that bothered me.
My ideal job would be to split the week up 50% into home based, and office based. Why? When i was in Singapore, i was able to work from home 1-2 times a week. It made alot of difference. Going to the office everyday is very tiring, you don’t realise how tiring it is until you stay home for 1-3 days and the difference you see it makes to your quality of life and work.
Why is going to the office still important at all? It’s because human interaction especially with your colleagues ARE important. Who else can you bitch or gossip with when you are stressed up? Although working from home full time now does not impact my work in any negative ways, but having some face to face interaction seriously will not hurt, i know it will improve things on many level.
Despite everyone thinking it’s very easy to work from home. It’s actually not. I totally struggled with it even when in Singapore i had partial experience with working from home already. Some people are just ill disciplined at home. For me, this was not a problem. When it comes to work, i tend to fade away into my work. It’s just that i get too lazy, i do not have people to talk to, in a foreign country/city where i had no activities.
I think the worse parts were realizing that my life was all about a man, waiting for a man to come home each day. I was new in France, i had no many activities and i’m home almost everyday. That was really depressing. I remembered thinking how the Fxxx i got myself living like that, totally not the independent woman i am. Fortunately things picked up.
Things may not always be perfect but we can find gratitude. I’m thankful for this job, and for opportunity to work from home. My moto in life is, we got to try and experience everything at least once, it’s part of living.
Although there were many challenges relating to adapting to a new country, I try to make the best out of my situation. Since i do not have physical colleagues who i can hang out with, i have to make an extra effort to find/make new friends, to go out, to do things. I can easily fall into my own world and space of staying home for 3-5 days. End of the day, it doesn’t make me feel good about myself, or my life. And it’s also not what i want. To waste my time here in a new country not doing anything. I have to make my own routines and see which works best for me.
Stop moping around and waste our lives.
My office space looks like this:
Photo Credit: RueMagazine
Haha kidding, of course not!