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Working from home or living at work?

07 december 2020, 12:20 / Publications

As of late, this phrase has become increasingly popular. The idea of working from home has gained popularity in the last few years and has of course been gaining traction this year due to the global pandemic. We have heard a lot of positives about working from home, the time we save on travel, lowering global fuel consumption as fewer people commute, the list goes on…What has not been discussed with as much enthusiasm are the negative aspects of working from home and how to combat them.

Harvard Business school’s article “Between Home and Work: Commuting as an opportunity for role transitions” highlights the benefit of the commute as not only a practical element in our lives but one that gives us time to mentally commute between work and home life. How do we ‘switch off’ after a day at the office if we live at the office? This is an issue we all face when working from home. We need to recreate our routines in a way that benefits both our home and work life.

So-called “Zoom burnout” or fatigue is another factor, although videoconferencing has allowed us to stay connected during difficult times and generally made meetings easier, many have experienced increased fatigue as a result, as this form of communication seems to be more draining than a face-to-face meeting. One reason for this, according to Gianpiero Petriglieri, associate professor at Instead, is that video conferences require more focus as we have to work harder to interpret non-verbal cues: “Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally”

Harvard Business Review collected data from 12,000 people across the U.S. and Europe during the pandemic. The study revealed that while we save time in commute we tend to spend additional time on unproductive work and unsatisfying leisure activities. How do we ensure we use the time that we save wisely?

Here are three tips you can follow to combat the negatives of living at work:

Commute

The perfect time for a commute is 16 min according to (Published: May 2001, The positive utility of the commute: modeling ideal commute time and relative desired commute amount by Lothlorien S. Redmond & Patricia L. Mokhtarian). This article also revealed it is possible for your commute time to be too short. The commute allows a much needed mental and physical relationship that allows us to ‘switch on or off’ our workday. Thus, we can commute by taking a walk before and after work and sticking to a morning routine allowing our body and mind to realize we are entering or ending our workday. Re-enact the shift from home to work life and back home again to ensure you put your private life behind you so that you can concentrate on work or the other way around.

Routine

Going to the office came with a lot of forced routines. It is important to maintain a healthy daily routine and keep building good positive habits. This can be in the way you dress, the rooms you use, the timing of your day, etc.

Celebrate

The Germans have a great term for this ‘Feierabend’. Feier means “to celebrate” and Abend means “evening”. An evening celebration is something to look forward to, to celebrate the end of the day and transition from work to social life.

Self-sustainability is critical, we should implement good habits in our work and personal lives to find a balance between the two. We have to work actively to re-shape our lives in today’s modern world in a way that allows us to avoid Zoom fatigue and any other side effects as a result of working from home.

About the Authors:

Written by Nadja Pentz, Office Assistant, AIMS International Switzerland