Make working from home bearable with a work BFF
Since March 2020, the number of Australians working from home has doubled, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting 41% of people with a job now work from home at least once a week.
When UTS Careers shifted to a hybrid model – providing staff the option for days in the office and time working remotely – I was over the moon. I loved working from my own desk, being able to cut out commuting time and spend my lunch breaks soaking in the sun at the park next to my house, but I also missed the productivity of being in the office and spending time with my colleagues.
What saved me in my time WFH has been social connection, in many forms.
Here are the work BFFs that make working from home bearable, and how you can find them too.
The work BFF
Who: the work bestie you used to love sharing shifts with
How they help
Working from home can be a lonely business.
I don’t know about you, but rarely do I leap out of bed in the morning super psyched to go to work, but the one thing that bolsters my spirits is getting to see my amazing team. When we’re in the office it’s a great chance to brainstorm and work through problems together, but also just chat socially and hear about everyone’s lives.
Research shows that one of the greatest downfalls of working from home is the lack of intellectual and social interaction and resulting loneliness.
Staying in contact with your work BFF throughout the day while working remotely is a perfect solution! One of my colleagues and I chat through Teams while we work – talking about our tasks for the day, plans for the weekend, book recommendations, memes, collaborative projects… the list goes on!
Treating your WFH day as though it’s a normal work day – including all the social interactions with colleagues and your work BFF that would normally entail – helps with team efficiency and creativity, plus your individual happiness. Win win!
The home BFF
Who: a housemate, parent, sibling, or even pet
How they help
In a normal workplace, your workday starts when you get in, and ends when you head home. For WFH’ers, that boundary can get a little blurry. It’s hard to avoid checking your email just one last time before going to bed, or at the dinner table, or when you’re sitting on the couch.
Plus, one of the biggest concerns employers have with their staff working from home is that they won’t be as productive. As a result, many employees feel the need to constantly prove their worth – and that means overworking.
One way to retain work-life balance is with the help of a home BFF. For me, this has been my cat Spaghetti. I adopted her in January and when she isn’t jumping on my laptop in the middle of a Zoom meeting, she’s pretty great.
Having a little companion while I work has improved my WFH experience in lots of ways. I’m more likely to take lunch breaks because I have to feed her too, I feel more able to switch off when I’m not working, and playing with her at the end of the day is a nice way to relax.
You might find that someone you live with helps fulfil this role. Or maybe your home BFF is more ephemeral: a project you’re working on, houseplants that need tending to, a friend you routinely meet at the end of a workday. What matters most is looking after yourself and ensuring you keep a healthy work-life balance.
The WFH BFF
Who: a fellow WFH’er
How they help
Sing it with me Hannah Montana fans: 🎶 you get the best of both worlds 🎶
The lack of human interaction when working from home can be really draining. Many of us can spend the whole day without seeing a single person, and if you’re tucked away behind a desk in your bedroom like me, you might spend most of your time in a single room. Studies show that this disconnection can lead to increased stress and negative emotions in employees working remotely.
In other words, you’re not alone! If you’re lucky enough to know someone who’s also working from home, why not join forces? I meet my friend, a fellow WFH’er, once or twice a week for lunch and an afternoon of working from one of our houses. Not only does this give me something to look forward to, it means I get the social aspect of working in the office and all the benefits of working from home bundled into one. And so does my friend!
A word of advice: make sure you choose someone you know you can be productive with! Social interaction is all well and good, but if hanging out distracts you from work, or at worst completely derails a workday, this option probably isn’t the one for you. When done right, though, magic can happen.
Ok, ok I relent. If you’ve read this far you deserve a picture of my cat Spaghetti as a reward.
Now go out there and thank your work BFF for making your WFH day bearable.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a UTS Communications (Creative Writing) graduate, and current Communications Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.