Work from home is a common topic these days, and for me — it’s part of my life. I had never believed that my home would be my workplace too. First of all, I thought that only other professions (not mine) can work from home. I was totally wrong! I am an engineer of Organizational sciences from the department for Quality Management, who lives in Serbia and works as “Voice of the Customer” Program Manager for Microsoft for Western Europe! From home.
You never know
Life (fortunately) proved me wrong and gave me a lesson that we shouldn’t have prejudices which block your mind and decrease your opportunities, but we should constantly educate ourselves, nurture our relationships with friends, family, and business partners too, and have our own measurable goals to strive towards. That definitely leads to happiness and the realization of desires, even those we couldn’t dare to believe in.
Kids and home office?
The second prejudice was — when you have kids, you need to be superwoman (superman) to work from home properly. Not (so) true. ;)
There was a video recently that showed Professor Robert Kelly being interviewed live on BBC News when his kids jumped into the room. Well, those situations are possible, and cute somehow, but they do not define working from home. The truth is that you need to set some rules at the beginning so your family can understand that “you are not at home — you are at work” and support you.
That was a challenge for me because I was working at the office from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. until recently, and my daily routine was different. As a working mum I always have a lot of duties at home, especially to prepare kids’ clothes and stuff for school and kindergarten in the evening so I can prepare myself in the morning. And the morning was always a mess — rush and rush all the time! Of course you need to GET to work after all that preparation, not to be late, to be lucky not to get in a traffic jam, to find a parking place, etc. Again, a lot of rush and stress, despite my husband’s help and good organization. But, I was physically absent for 9, 10 hours, and that was considered as “Mum is at work”.
When I started working from home, the first tangible benefit was — less stress in the morning. Now I am still doing at home what I did before, but I don’t have to hurry through the traffic and fight for a parking place and lose 30–45 minutes. I use that time to relax, get my thoughts together / clean the house / work out / run and start the new day fresh and earlier than I could before.
The most difficult thing for me was to explain to my kids that I am really working although I am at home. At the beginning they were happy to see me home when they came back from school and kindergarten, and they wanted to talk, to go for a walk, and do all the fun things kids usually like. Sometimes I felt guilty because I needed to refuse and postpone all their wishes and ideas, and it was a struggle. My husband and parents helped me a lot in that period, and I believe that it is a key — to have the support and understanding of your family, and your kids will get used to the new situation in time.
After the first two months of remote work, I felt that I had got into that and got used to it, but suddenly I figured out that my clothes had become tighter☺ That is something everyone should be aware of: you cannot reduce your daily movement without consequences! You need to be active in order not to feel the negative effects of sitting all day, so losing weight was my new challenge besides the new working experience, family, kids, their needs and activities, chores… In an already busy schedule, I recalled my two-year-old plan to run in the 30th Belgrade Marathon–Half-Marathon, so I started with preparations: to face the challenge and to help myself to be active and develop healthy habits. Training became one more task on my “to-do” list, and there were moments when it was extremely difficult to manage everything — but it all “had to be done”.
The point is to set your rules and priorities and define tools and parameters, and then to create your schedule based on that — but all in an agile manner. And to have support! I believe that is the way to be productive, efficient, and at the same time healthy and happy.
Finally, when I count all the pros and cons of remote work with all mum’s stuff, needs, and kids around, I definitely gain a lot! I can catch some moments during the day to “be with myself”, to exchange messages with friends and family and be in touch with them that way, to speak with my children, help them with homework, and have more time together. This type of work also allows you to attend some school events, meetings, and workshops you couldn’t with classic office work.
Now I am used to preparing and finishing all my tasks on time. I learn a lot and contribute to the team while taking care of my personal goals and activities and keeping balance with my family and social life, which is priceless!
Where there is a will, there is a way. If there is a chance in a million that you can do something, anything, to keep what you want from ending, do it. Pry the door open or, if need be, wedge your foot in that door and keep it open.
— Pauline Kael