Business

A case for working from home

Science says working from home makes people healthier, more productive and more satisfied with their employer. Science also says that people who can work from home sleep better, tend to stay longer at the same job and get more done than colleagues who spend all their time in the office. Fact is, when we work for example in an open office space we tend to fool ourselves that we work more than we do. Not that we’re not trying, it’s just that we get disrupted and distracted way more. On the other hand, when we work from home, we focus on the output of what we’re working on. Work becomes about your delivery, what you actually create. Thereby we tend to be more productive and get more done when we work from home. It’s about the difference you make, not the time you spend.

It’s simply a win-win. And for your employer who’s paying for your time allowing people to work from home frequently should be a no-brainer.

But what about the short breaks we might take at home? To empty the dishwasher or fold some clean laundry or walk the dog or (like me) do a short yoga-session? Yeah, this is also a win-win. These short breaks help us focus and give us a pause so that we can think clearer and they keep our bodies healthier. If you happen to get rid off some stress over household duties as you go it is yet another win. As a society we get more and more stressed and people suffer from burnouts everywhere around me. I’m not surprised anymore, it’s so extremely common. Working from home at least now and then save time, give us a chance to take care of little things at home AND we do a better job. People who work from home have fewer days of sickleave For many people, commuting to work costs the similar level of energy as working due to the many impressions and the stressful environment. Meaning, the time you spend commuting is a waste of productive energy on something that most people would rather not do instead of using the energy for something we want to do. Thus, we come to work having already wasted 30 minutes or an hour or whatever of our productive time commuting. For our brains it’s just as tiring.

This is no surprise to me. What is a surprise to me is that I still have to work hard to convince most managers and employers about it.


I’m not saying that meeting your colleagues is not important, sitting together is on the contrary fundamental for team-work. At a new workplace it is important to spend time there to get to know people, social connections will leverage your job (or at least make it easier). And when you’ve been working somewhere for quite some time it is important to meet people in person to keep the team socially connected. But we don’t have to sit together 5 days a week to do that. We need to balance and prioritize how we do our work best. Some people need to spend more time at the office and some people less. But let that be up to us – up to them – not their manager or some old company norm that is no longer serving anybody. Given that trust people will also value to be at the office for meetings and social gatherings more, but put more effort into making it really worthwhile (unproductive and useless meetings are yet another phenomenon way to common).

A study done by Gallup (on the US) shows that employees working from home 3-4 days a week are more motivated and loyal (and I assume we all know how much difference that makes). They feel trusted and autonomous in doing their best. Motivation and engagement are probably the most valuable asset an organisation can have in it’s people, and it’s impossible to buy or take shortcuts to get too (not saying that there aren’t things you can buy that would contribute).

Personally, I prefer working from home 1-2 days a week. This takes away a lot of stress as I know that I will be in control of my time and get a lot of things done. It really is production time. And I also have the freedom to handle som little things at home and it saves the time I would spend on getting properly dressed, commute, pack stuff to prepare for activities after work and so on. An energy saver and a source of focus. Frankly, if you don’t allow your employees to work from home I take it you don’t trust them, and then you have bigger problems to handle than where they spend their days… But this is yet another topic.

Sources:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ntwe.12097/full
https://news.gallup.com/reports/199961/7.aspx
Own observations and interviews at workplaces

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EDIT: after writing this I found a video from Matt Mullenweg co-founder of the hugely succesful company Auttomatic (behind WordPress and more).

Pitch your visions not your history

It’s been two weeks since I announced that I’m looking for new opportunities. Not specifically looking for a job, but a leap. A next level, a new step towards my dreams. And a job or a longer project seemed to be the best platform for the development I sought for (read more about that in My Manifesto). I played a wild card, announced high and low, to my extended network and everyone I know, that I was looking for something that wasn’t really in my previous field of expertis but that was my passion and craft.

 

And these two weeks have been transforming in a way. First of all, I am so grateful to everyone in my network who gave me their best tips, contacts, and wanted to meet up. Even so that on the day of sharing the post on social media I had an interview booked the same afternoon. I decided to say yes to most requests. Out of curiosity, to practice and gain insights – and for most of them out of genuine interest for that specific person and place. Plus I love meeting inspiring people and what a great opportunity to do so!

 

So I went out exploring in the wild wild we… job market. And for the first time in my career I talked almost only about my vision. The direction I am heading, the potential I have, the dreams I long to fulfil and the change I want to create in the world. I talked about my why, my values, where my motivation comes from. I was pretty relentless. I refused to adapt my presentation to what they needed (but I did of course go there because of a genuine interest in what they need), or guess what they where searching for and try to seem more like that kind of person. I described my strengths and my weaknesses and was totally honest about it. It’s pretty easy, because I’m completely certain that my strengths outshine my weaknesses a million times and the right place can see that without a doubt.

 

I want the best match I can find, a place that will be my symbiotic partner where my visions and theirs work together to enhance each other in reaching our goals. If I’m not all out me, how could that ever happen? So I was my fiercest, most fiery me. I’m gonna let my humanity shine through here and admit I was a little bit nervous about my haircut (silly, I know, but I was so much more polished in my previous corporate positions) but I decided to be bold and brave and if my sidecut makes me look to weird/edgy for a place that’s definitely not my place anyway. I decided that if I let them see the real me I would probably get to see the real them. And it really seems to work. I’ve had CEOs and founders expressing weaknesses and vulnerabilities as if we were already partners. If their worse and my worse are things that aren’t too bad and we’re completely fine working with those, how wrong could it get? Just like with people, a company’s drive, vision and passion are always worth a million times more than some small flaws here and there. So why do most people and companies hide them so stubbornly? Why not laugh at them, take them seriously but not too seriously and then move on to what really matters: where are we going, you, me and this team that we become if you hire me, and how are we going to get there?

 

And you know what – this approach changed everything! First of all, who wouldn’t feel awesome touring around pitching their dreams? I love job hunting in a way I never thought was possible, it all just works naturally. I said no to a few places in mutual respect and understanding that we weren’t a great fit. But it’s all good because both sides made interesting new contacts and left with ”maybe some other time”. I met amazing people, and I’m pretty sure I lit a few fires around important topics as I talked about them in such an engaged way. ”Wow, you’re really passionate about this” is something I’ve heard a couple of times now.

 

I am certain that vision and passion leads to a better job than history and experience. If comparing ”a burning desire for…” and ”have done it many times before” I believe the earlier to be much more important and trustworthy for an employer to go with than the latter. Authentic drive and passion is the one factor that can not be created from the outside (not ignoring the fact that leadership, culture and the right tools can help sustain it and make it grow). Hiring someone without the right drive is like buying an electrical car without a battery – useless. It has the right technical equipment, a lot of skills and experience put into its’ making, an appealing outside… and you’ll have to push it to go anywhere! Remember that it is where you are going not where you have been that matters.

 

I believe it is as important in recruiting and companionships as in entrepreneurship to ”start with why”, as Simon Sinek describes in his presentation How great leaders inspire action. So here’s my recommendation for recruiters and managers as well as job seekers and entrepreneurs: dare to pitch your vision without compromise! There will be a lot of temptations on the way, employers that aren’t really right for you but offers something hard to refuse, candidates that are amazing but might be a little too.. something to match. These mistakes are costly – don’t kill each others authentic passions by pretending to be perfect together just because you like or are impressed with one and other. As Jim Collins puts it: good is the enemy of great! 

 

Lastly, I want to clarify that this perspective is not the same as not compromising. In everything we do there are compromises. That makes it even more important to be open, to talk through the potential and the work it will take to reach goals and have fun on the way. Nothing is perfect, but a great match makes the compromises easy because you choose them to make more important things possible. And it won’t be that hard to compromise when you are in a team full of passion for reaching that vision and building that dream.

 

Cheering you on!

 

Hanna

My Manifesto

I studied technology, mathematics and natural sciences until I was 19. That’s when you graduate from high school in Sweden. I loved maths, problem solving, physics and chemistry. I loved building stuff and figuring out new computer programs. But I also loved art, languages, reading and leadership. The way I was introduced to it, the engineering programs I could move on to were filled with anti social guys without style. Those were the people who came over to our school talking about their study programs, those were the representants in IT and engineering I had seen at my summer job. I was a creative soul, loved traveling and creating art projects, writing poems and playing the guitar. And I got so much feedback for my good leadership and people-skills (I just started in my first management position at a restaurant back then). How could I ever fit in with those introverted guys? I wanted to work with people, not just screens or machines! And tech seemed so extremely anti-creative. As it turned out, I didn’t study anything technology-related at University back then. I could’ve been accepted to any program with my grades (and finished it too, considering my sense for that kind of thinking). But I was afraid to loose my wild creativity, my poetic and artsy self, my hunger for traveling and people. It took years until I saw the trap I stepped in clearly. I was just another girl who felt so strongly that she didn’t belong in the tech world, and despite being the perfect candidate (I mean, one of many) thus went on to do something else. Who wasn’t introduced to how amazingly creative programming and computer science can be, who never saw the artistic, colourful, well-traveled, humanistic people working in tech (PLEASE go out to high schools more, you peeps!). And it’s been a long journey of neglecting the feeling of wrong choices, trying to be satisfied in a different field, and finally daring to go for what was always right for me: a career in tech!

 

What I love to work with is UX and computer science. I’ve spent a whole lot of time outside regular jobs to study interaction design, game development and learning how to code. I still have a lot more learnings to do, of course, but who haven’t? I’ve been working with graphic design and web development for the last 1,5 years (check out some of my work here), and added some podcast production, social media management, video production and SEO to that portfolio as well. But now I’m moving over to the tech/UX side of things even more, and I want to do that by working in the industry with senior colleagues and in fascinating, innovative projects.

 

I know I’m using too many superlatives and swearwords here but I am SO SUPER-FUCKING-CRAZY-MOTIVATED to do this. Learn it all, build it all, give it my all. My drive, except for a huge load of curiosity and joy of learning, is to become whom I always wanted to be; a role model for young girls who want to make video games, build new machines, change industries, invent disruptive technical solutions, run companies, be respected for their all-out nerdiness and be all they can be. I don’t want another girl to step into my trap (yeah I do of course see my own role and responsibility here as well, but there are many reasons to why things go the way they do) – to feel like the tech world is a place where she doesn’t belong and take a huge detour because she got the wrong impression from stereotypes and norms.

 

Hence, this is my manifesto. I want to change industries and bend cultures, I want to eliminate old norms and illusions, I want to develop awesome products that supports awesome people of all kinds. I believe technology is a democratic cause. If just one group in society is building and understanding the technology that surrounds us, that an increasingly big share of our lives and our society is based on, it’s a structural and societal issue. We need diversity in technology as much as we do in politics, in classrooms and in management positions. Maybe even more. I’m going to be part of that movement.