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You Should Still Dress Up To Go To Work, Even If You Work At Home

How many times have you rolled out of bed, turned on your computer, and started working in your pajamas? Did you feel like you were getting stuff done with the same sort of gusto and attention to quality as you would have if you got up, showered, and put on clothes for the day? As Aaron Taube of Business Insider writes, quite a few psychologists (and at least one study) suggest that workers and students who wear professional clothing are more likely to perform better at tasks and on tests than those who dress casually. Maybe the clothes really do make the (wo)man.

How many times have you rolled out of bed, turned on your computer, and started working in your pajamas? Did you feel like you were getting stuff done with the same sort of gusto and attention to quality as you would have if you got up, showered, and put on clothes for the day? As Aaron Taube of Business Insider writes, quite a few psychologists (and at least one study) suggest that workers and students who wear professional clothing are more likely to perform better at tasks and on tests than those who dress casually. Maybe the clothes really do make the (wo)man.

 

Working From Home Is Awesome–If You Do It Right

WANNA WEAR PAJAMAS AND MUNCH ON CEREAL WHILE YOU WORK? THERE ARE SOME PROS AND CONS TO CONSIDER FIRST BEFORE YOU MAKE THAT DREAM A REALITY.

The people want to work from home.

In fact, according to the last census data, the telecommuting workforce increased 80% from 2005 to 2012, even as the total workforce declined. And in the U.K., record numbers of employees work remotely.

Nicholas Bloom, professor of economics at Stanford University, studied the Chinese travel center Ctrip over nine months and found that employees who worked from home put their desk-bound counterparts’ productivity to shame:

Ctrip was thinking that it could save money on space and furniture if people worked from home and that the savings would outweigh the productivity hit it would take when employees left the discipline of the office environment. Instead, we found that people working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did–meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them. They also quit at half the rate of people in the office–way beyond what we anticipated. And predictably, at-home workers reported much higher job satisfaction.

All totaled, the company saw one extra workday a week, no commute, less sick days, and no more running errands on long lunches. The company estimated that it saved $1,900 per employee on furniture and supplies over the nine months.

We’ve covered remote work extensively at Fast Company, from building and sustaining a remote workforce to bridging the gaps in a far-flung team. And four of our six best tools for creative work are about making a more home-like workspace–including naps, running breaks, messier desks, and ambient sound.

But sometimes the comforts of home can become too cozy. This is when you need to weigh the pros and cons of taking your work home with you and keeping it there:

PRO: WE’RE MAMMALS, NOT MACHINES

Ever wonder why your best ideas come in the shower, on a hike, or just before falling asleep? “Our brain is wandering, forming connections, resolving incongruencies, testing out theories,” writes executive coach Christine Comaford. “Working from home enables more vision time,” she says.

Being untethered from the cubicle means you’re more likely to engage the sensory parts of your brain: walking the dog during breaks, getting sunshine instead of fluorescent light, taking time to wander a little–things you can’t do when you’re staring dead-eyed into space during the third meeting this week.

CON: WE’RE STILL CREATURES OF HABIT

Habit is a slippery thing. Without that dull routine of getting up to an alarm at 6 a.m. and carving the same path to the office, saying the same “good mornings” to the same people at the office coffee machine, dropping your bag at your desk and walking at exactly 8:55 to the morning meeting, the tiny “keystone habits” that used to set your day into motion are derailed. Most of us need a balance of steady, routine patterns–the physical getting to work is part of that–and freedom to break out of it. When you’re working from home, you’ll have to choose your own adventure.

PRO: THE OPEN OFFICE DEBATE ENDS

When you’re working from home, you’re Switzerland to the war between introverted and extroverted space preferences. It’s all your domain, and you choose how big your bubble is and whether you want to work in distraction-free solitude or to the sound of the television, the phone, and your roommates running in and out. The reasons for working in a coffee shop instead of an office are tailored to your own needs at home. The world is your open office.

CON: IT’S DISTRACTING

The perfect workspace doesn’t just materialize in your home (and no, your bed isn’t it by default). Even if you’ve arranged your home office into an oasis of creativity, you may still need to ward off spouses, roommates, pets, and phone calls. There’s more vision-time and positive stimuli at home, but there’s also more distraction when you’re not surrounded by three beige, felt walls.

ALL THE COOL COMPANIES ARE DOING IT

More and more companies are not only open to hiring remote workers, but they are doing so actively. The flexibility of relocation–and the benefits of having people on the ground in a variety of locations–looks good to the likes of Xerox, Dell, IBM, and Apple. They’re saving on kitchen snacks, bandwidth, the electric bill, and office supplies, after all.

CON: IT’S LONELY

As freelance writer Lisa Evans admits, the freedom that comes from working alone is a tradeoff for the social life that offices provide. But, you can create your own water coolers with groups of professionals that casually co-work in unexpected places.

If your company doesn’t already have Google Hangouts or Skype, take the initiative to set yourself up for joining meetings remotely so you’re not left out of the banter in between the meeting minutes.

PRO: IT’S FAMILY-FRIENDLY

Many companies, finally realizing that life outside of work happens whether they like it or not, are adopting policies to include flexibility for parents–like Palo Alto Software, the tech firm that encourages flextime and who’s CEO brought her own kids to work in baby slings. But for some parents, subjecting their offices to fussy children or schlepping the crew into the city five days a week isn’t an option. Working from home lets parents be there for their home life, without falling off the mommy-cliff.

CON: YOU’LL HAVE TO SET BOUNDARIES

How fast can you fling yourself from the nursery, the moment baby’s asleep, to your home office to whip off a dozen emails–without knocking over a coffee mug and losing the battle for your laptop with the cat?

When the stress of work and the stress of home come together in the same place, you’ll need a plan for managing it all. After all, going to work is proven to be less stressful than dealing with conflict at home.

Working from home can give you precious time with your family back, but you may have to set boundaries for when work and home can’t mix. That means putting tough ultimatums on playtime when it’s time to get down to business–and putting the BlackBerry down when you’re at the park.

PRO: SAY GOODBYE TO RUSH HOUR

The average commute in the U.S. is nearly 25 minutes long, meaning most of us lose an hour of our lives just getting to and from work. In New York, it’s more like two hours.

Getting all that time back is the feel-good equivalent of a $40,000 raise, says National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner. You can only improve your commute so much; it’s still a life-sucking part of our daily routines.

This one for the “pro” column has no downside. If you enjoy your commute that much, you’re either living on a tropical island or you’re a monk and didn’t need this list in the first place.

 

Work/Life Integration Beats Work/Life Balance

If you don't work remotely, you're probably feeling a little overwhelmed by the demands of your job. That's according to a recent Harvard business school survey which found that 94% of professionals worked over 50 hours per week, and nearly half clocked over 65. The unreality of finding that fabled work-life balance has led modern professionals to put their life first and integrate their work to levels previously thought undesirable. CEO Reed Hastings of Netflix, for example, “lived in Italy with his family while Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, continued to soar.”

What's the Big Idea?

The rise of the “anywhere worker” has been a boon to both employees and employers, according to a Unify-led survey which captured data from the UK, US, and Germany: “68% of people who described their teams as 'very successful' have more than half of their team members in different locations.” The survey also found that successful teams collaborate freely regardless of their location: “79% of these successful teams say they are more likely to share a spontaneous idea on a virtual call than during an in-person meeting.” To be more innovative and productive, break out of the office culture.

 

How To Make Working From Home More Productive

WORKING FROM HOME HAS ITS CHALLENGES. FIVE HOME OFFICE PROFESSIONALS SHARE THEIR SECRETS ON MAKING IT WORK.

As a freelance writer, I spend the majority of my working time in my home office. While zero commuting hours, the ability to work in my pajamas, and flexibility over my schedule sound like a dream; working from home also has its challenges.

Topping the list are distractions of home life and limited social interactions. With a third of full-time workers blending their home and work life, I conducted my own informal survey of home office workers to find out what they do to make working from home successful. Here are some of their best tips:

SEPARATE WORK SPACE FROM FAMILY SPACE.

Virginia Ginsburg, owner of the Santa Monica, California, business consulting and coaching company Swell Strategies has worked from her home office for 10 years and says creating separation between work and personal space is key to being productive at home.

“By dedicating a space to my work, I create clear boundaries between work and home life. When I am in my office, I do not think about home. When I am in my home, I do not think about my office,” she says. Ginsburg avoids contaminating home space with her work, preferring to contain all business documents behind her office door. She even uses a landline for her office rather than a cell phone to avoid work from flowing into her personal space.

CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR WATER COOLER CHAT.

Lack of human interaction can cause home office workers to feel isolated from others, especially if the entire company works from their homes. To ensure her employees feel connected to the organization, Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs, a job site for telecommuting positions, created a Yammer message board, a virtual water cooler where staff can catch up with each other.

Each team has their own online group and can post on each other's walls. In addition to work-related topics, they also have groups for healthy living, hobbies and photo sharing to encourage a collaborative work environment. “Staffers post pictures of their most recent vacation or their kids dressed up for Halloween. We wish each other a happy birthday and celebrate anniversaries on Yammer,” says Fell, who fights isolation by escaping to a local coffee shop to work or scheduling a business lunch.

REVIVE YOUR DRIVE.

Feeling disconnected from industry happenings is commonplace among home office workers who miss the buzz of the office environment. Tim Trampedach, owner of Level X Motorsports, says he frequently reaches out to others for coffee chats to exchange ideas and ignite the spark. “The best folks will ask really inquisitive questions about their business.

The more open you are, the better the feedback and the greater the value,” says Trampedach, who typically goes for one or two coffee chats per week. Attending professional development events, participating in online forums or taking continuing education courses are other ways to self-generate the “office buzz” and spur your productivity into overdrive.

STICK TO A SCHEDULE.

Home can be riddled with distractions, but throwing in a load of laundry can quickly eat up your workday and kill your productivity. Kelly Hadous, Executive Coach and CEO of Win the Room says keeping a daily schedule is how she avoids distractions.

“I mark down on a spreadsheet when I start and stop working and how much time I spent on each task. Completing the spreadsheet in real time helps [me to be] focused, involved, and motivated, as well as keeping track of accomplishments,” says Hadous.

CREATE A COMMUTE.

While one of the bragging rights of working from home is the lack of a commute, the time spent in the car or on the train can be a valuable way for people to transition from home to work. Steve Cappoccia, account director at Warner Communications says he creates his own version of a commute by setting aside time at the beginning of the day to create a list of priorities for the day, update social media pages, and browse emails to allow for the smooth transition into work mode.

 

A Detroit company is reinventing the “open office”—by making it actually open to the public.


You’ve heard the case against the open office. They are noisy and distracting and more likely to share flu germs. But what if offices were really open, as in, to everyone?

About once a month, anyone can bring a laptop or tablet into its 13,385-square foot quarters shared with a handful of other companies. Besides space, dPop provides coffee and internet. Guests may even get a chance to work in the vault, formerly a bank vault, or share some beers from dPop’s stash.

“It brings a great energy to the space,” says CEO Melissa Price. “More people, more energy.”

Another goal: Show off the quirky design of its offices, complete with an astronaut suit, a full-size horse statue, saddles on sawhorses as short-term seating, plenty of hot pink pillows and more.

Most visitors are strangers who have heard about dPop and want to see it. “Many of our stranger guests have actually become clients—or we’ve become their clients—due to connections made during a Workeasy,” as the experiment is known, says Andrew Lemanek, who chose the dPop title of “cosmic lint guardian.” (He works in graphic design and social media, among other areas.)

The idea for open offices started last fall during the four-day Detroit Design Festival where clients and media and others needed a place to “squat for a day” or two, Price said.

The company is part of the Quicken Loans family of businesses, and one of the entities in its space is the Quicken’s facilities staff, which Price also heads.

So how many show up? On the snowiest of days, dPop hosted about five people, and in brighter better weather, it brought in 30 guests. The offer to join the office is advertised on Facebook, Twitter or from friends who work there.

dPop is among a small cadre of companies that sees power in opening itself up. Some co-working spaces hold open office hours, including DropLabs, which matches guests with mentors and experts.

MongoDB, a document database company, holds open office hours in Dublin, London, Palo Alto, and elsewhere so its engineers can answer users questions in person. Some Google offices also stage community office hours to help nonprofits and small businesses while promoting its own products.

Very few, though, bring people in for an entire day without screening or careful limits. Isn’t there a fear of letting in just anyone? dPop has never had a security issue. Says Lemanek: “We’ve got a locked door that only opens when guests state the password, and we’ve got security cameras etcetera all over the place.”

In February, Ryan O’Hara, owner of Sphinx Technology Solutions and a friend of a dPop staffer, came in to work for a change of pace. Between the coffee, the decor, and the music, says O’Hara, “I probably got a lot more done that day than a typical day” working from home.

Via Quartz

American men work from home more than women


It’s time to get over the notion that most people working from home are moms who squeeze reports and conference calls in between children’s games and Cheerios.

A new survey shows that men vastly outnumber women in remote work—either from home, a coffee shop, a co-working or business center. And the Flex+Strategy Group survey also found that childless workers and parents almost equally commute down a flight of stairs to work.

“I have always known that flexibility itself is gender neutral,” says Cali Williams Yost, CEO of Flex+Strategy, a firm that consults with employers. “But the primary work-remote person is very much more likely to be a man.”

Its research shows 36% of men say they do most of their work from remote places including home, compared to 23% of women. (Men represent about 53% of the US labor force and more than two-thirds of all commuters, according to Flex+Strategy’s survey.) The telephone survey by ORC International queried 556 full-time US workers.

Other surveys show similar results. A Harris Interactive poll last year indicated 37% of men and 31% of women spent some time working from home—though women were more likely to agree with positive statements about telework. Almost two-thirds of workers told Harris that working from home improved productivity and work output.

“It’s easier to say flexibility’s about moms, about women, then we don’t have to deal with it” at larger companies, Williams Yost says. She thinks women may be reluctant to request work from home arrangements, fearing they will be shunted onto the “mommy track.” Her survey results show women are more likely to work in open floor plan and cubicles in workplaces, the same group that said they were least likely to use flexibility.

One Harvard economist believes the flexibility, especially in traditional fields, comes at a high cost. Yet telecommuting jobs are growing and plentiful, especially at companies such as Xerox and Aetna.

The message to business leaders who are not sold on the fundamental shift to more flexible work arrangements: “Flexibility, including telework, is not a policy; it’s not perk or a program,” says Williams Yost, the author of two books Tweak It and Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You. “It’s a way of operating your business, and increasingly a core strategy” that applies to all.

Via Quartz