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Working From Home Week at Shield GEO

Every time I share that I work from home, I am guaranteed to get one of two responses. One, a deep groan followed by some iteration of ‘you’re so lucky!’ or ‘what a dream!’. The other, a shake of the head and a ‘I would never get anything done!’

To be fair, both can be true. Like most things there are benefits and challenges and even though it can be largely positive for many people, it won’t work for everyone. Some people find it conducive to productivity while others are prone to procrastination. It can provide a much better work/life balance by cutting out long commutes but it can also make it hard to switch off.

June 29th – August 2nd marked OwlLabs first annual Working From Home Week. While a large portion of the ShieldGEO team already work from home 100% of the time, this was a great opportunity for our co-located team to experience life on the other side. 

We asked our Product Marketing Manager, Sujay and our head of HR, Talent and Culture, Stella to share accounts of their weeks working from home.

Sujay Abhilash | Product Marketing Manager

Have you worked from home before?

Yes! I work from home every Friday + work from home whenever I head back to visit family in Singapore. 

Was WFH for a full week any different to WFH one or two days a week?

Yes, I usually keep my WFH days for big tasks like creating a report or coming up with a strategy etc. Tasks that typically take a longer time, I prefer working on them from home. I saved money on commuting and food! I also ate healthier since I was making my own meals. 

How was your motivation impacted?

I guess because I didn’t have to commute, I started work later and as a result ended work a lot later than I normally do. I didn’t have a fixed time I needed to start whereas if I’m going in to the office I try to catch a specific train to try and get in by 8.30am. Same with lunch, at the office we have lunch together around 12.30/1 everyday while working from home I would have lunch at really odd times since I didn’t have any external motivations to have a fixed routine. 

Did you experience any roadblocks or difficulties getting work done? For example, was it harder to communicate with your team or access information?

It was very quiet. I had one day where I had no meetings scheduled and I realised I hadn’t said a word out loud the entire day which was a funny realisation when I finally spoke. I don’t think it was difficult to get work done. I liked that I could play music out loud but I did miss seeing everyone in the office and the little chats we have. 

Did the experience affect your understanding of team mates who WFH full time in any way?

Yes. It was very hard to draw a line on when work ended and play started. I would take a longer lunch break sometimes and make up for it by working later. I would also pick up my laptop even well after I had finished work just to do one last thing or check one thing. The distinction was blurred. It was also pretty lonely during the day sometimes since there wasn’t anyone around. I realised the importance of having face to face meetings and just having someone to have a chat with. Also, so much discipline is needed to make this sustainable. Going to the office I’m usually done with work by 4.30, back home around 5 and can switch off and relax. Working from home wasn’t quite as structured, largely because I didn’t create a routine. 

Would you do it again?

Yes, but I will need a routine. 

Stella Huang | HR, Talent and Culture

Have you worked from home before?

Yes, for the last 2-3 months I’ve been working 3-4 days at home each week

Was WFH for a full week any different?

It’s not any different. I can imagine it being very lonely though. However, I myself have so many things/errands to do in life in general that I prefer working at home to be more flexible. But I actually cheated. I completely forgot that I had scheduled to meet a consultant in the office on the Tuesday, but couldn’t change it so I actually ended up coming in. Turns out they were sick and didn’t make it in the end, but I was already on my way, so just worked from the office on Tuesday.

How was your motivation impacted?

I know that when I work from home, I have to actively psych myself up the night before to tell myself I have to be productive.

Did you experience any roadblocks or difficulties getting work done? For example, was it harder to communicate with your team or access information?

Not really. The only roadblock is my environment. I know that the more cluttered my workspace, the less productive I am, so I need to make sure that my space is clean the night before I go to bed, otherwise I’m not motivated to clean the space in the morning and work at my desk. I’ll work in all sorts of different places around the house and that will impact my motivation.

Did the experience affect your understanding of team mates who WFH full time in any way?

Like I mentioned, I can imagine that it can get very lonely. I think it’s either suited to those that have a very busy schedule and don’t want to spend time on the road commuting, or those that are very disciplined.

Would you do it again?

For sure! I just need to make sure I have everything ready at the start of the week e.g. clean workspace etc. otherwise it’s a downhill struggle from there!

– Bree Caggiati

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