The challenges of home working in an Irish Winter

The challenges of home working in an Irish Winter

December 1, 2023

The schools are back, the stay-cations are over and people are settling back into the normality of an adjusted working environment. When your home becomes your office and your office becomes your home. This is a peculiar dynamic and takes some getting used to. In a previous role I spent 5 years working from home for a global IT company and have gone through many an Irish winter working on global deals from my front bedroom. My current work involves a mix of on-site, in person and working from home. Having logged another 5 years of this format, I feel I now have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating an effective and balanced work life from home.

Initially there is a great sense of freedom and excitement. No longer do you have to endure hours commuting, endless meetings and some of the office politics that grates on you. Most are a few months into their new working way of life so the buzz is beginning to subside and eventually like all humans we fall into patterns of behaviour. Falling is not a means of entry I’d recommend into most circumstances as the outcomes usually hurt, immediately, or in due course.

Prior to Covid there was a massive movement towards freedom and mobility in the work place. A lot of companies resisted. At its core they just didn’t trust their people to work at home for a full day and not take the piss. You can dress it up all you like, but this is the reality for most. I’m all for autonomy and feel it can be a really powerful tool for engagement. Having coached over a thousand people at this point there is one thing I know for sure.

People long for autonomy, but the vast majority are really poor at managing themselves when they get it.

They neither have the structures, environment, supports, or discipline required to be really effective in a remote environment. The research on this shows that there is a big bump in productivity in the first 6 months, but can trail off there after if the correct systems are not in place. Freedom and autonomy are hugely important for me in my work, so home working was a gift when initially offered to me. The summers were wonderful as most Europeans in business adopt the school teacher approach to holidays. The weather is nice and you can get out for a walk, or run at lunch and in the evenings. On the odd day you can even sneak in a round of golf.

September comes and things change with the seasons. That is how nature works. Business ratchets up and everyone is back with a sun tan and an appetite to close some serious business before year, or quarter end. Gone are the sunny mornings and lunch time strolls. Gone too are the evenings where you can get out and enjoy the bright evenings. At one point I went 4 days solid without going outside my front door. The good habits can slide and before you know it you are sitting in front of your laptop at 7pm, unshaven and still in your pyjamas. Having worked with and coached many in this space the problems can amplify if not careful. Porn, junk food, lethargy, social isolation and a constant low-level anxiety from not getting done what you feel you were supposed to, are but a few of the dangers. These can manifest into much bigger issues in your job, relationships and health if you are not vigilant. All of this can off-set the major perks that home working brings.

The good news however is that you now get to build a way of operating that works really well for you. You can cut through a lot of the nonsense and get right to the crux of what needs to happen for you to deliver results in your role. If you are unsure about how to do this then here are a few questions to get you thinking.

  • What triggers my motivation?
  • Is your environment set up for you to be distracted, or effective?
  • What is the one thing I can do every morning to get my day up and running on a positive note?
  • Where do I need to put firm boundaries in place? (People, time, or technology)

At Performance Nerds we are also putting together a training specifically around this area to help individuals and teams. If you want more info then pop me a mail.