Friday, December 11, 2020

Work From Everywhere At Everytime

"I haven't seen you at office lately. Where have you been? What are you working on?"

Thanks to COVID-19, such nosy questions are hard to come by nowadays. My normal reply would be: "I've been busy. Many things to rush." And make a hasty exit. Of course, in my mind, an unspoken retort follows: "And certainly much busier than you, who's obviously free enough to poke around other people's business."

Yes, I've written a lot in the past about the perks (and drawbacks) of 'Work From Home' policy - just 3 months ago, in fact. I really don't mean to go and on about WFH like a broken record, but there's a lot left to be said which I can no longer leave un-said...

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People who insist upon working fixed hours and look down on others who work from home are under-performing lazy buggers. Yes, I've said it, LOUD AND CLEAR. Gloves are off, let's bring it!

The reason is two-fold: quantitative, and qualitative.

Start first with quantitative. People who work from 9 to 5 only work between those hours. Beyond those hours, their mind totally switches off. If you come to them with a question at 4.50 pm, they will say: "Okay, I'll look into this tomorrow". Even worse if it's Friday: "Okay, I'll look into this next Monday". They have no sense of responsibility after office hours. Sure, this may be fully within their right as per their employment contract. But good luck getting a promotion with that kind of attitude...

In contrast, WFH is often harder and more time-consuming. As I have written before: "[Y]our performance is not measured by your input, but output. No marks for work 'Effort', but all about work 'Product'. It's not an obligation of conduct, but of result." If we finish our work efficiently ahead of schedule, that simply means a new project comes along. The flow of work is constant and never-ending. There's more work to do than hours in a day. We're working way more than 8 hours a day.

Next up is qualitative. Let's be real. We've seen how the nine-to-fivers at work. Having long chats at the pantry, watching videos on the computer, and taking forever to complete the simplest of task. And I can empathise with them. It's tough to work 4-5 hours straight without break. Whether the job is menial or mental. It's understandable for our minds to zone-out. Same for me as well (my main problem being my mind wandering from Project X to Project Y despite Project X being more urgent).

Those who WFH have the flexibility to work on tasks when we are most optimal. That could be the wee hours in the morning, or past midnight when the whole family is asleep. We're more efficient this way. Our mind is perpetually on 'Work mode' - the question is to what degree. Like a computer that never really shut downs, but only sleeps. The purpose of taking 'time-outs' is not so much because we're officially off duty, but to recharge our batteries (and reboot our brains). In total, we're not only working more hours than nine-to-fivers, but we're getting more work done per hour as well.

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Where have I been? What am I working on?

Well, I am constantly working at every waking hour (sometimes even in my dreams). I think about work before I sleep, while I eat, and even when I'm driving (not a good habit, I know). Work is not a time nor place, but rather a permanent state of being.

Now, my intent is not to disparage people who chose to have a 9-to-5 job. After all, it's a lifestyle choice. Not everyone is able to work 24/7. Some may even say that WFH is a form of modern slavery.

Rather, my point is that most people who have the luxury of WFH are often times working harder than those who don't. They've made a pact with the devil, so to speak. More autonomy comes with more responsibility. Oh, and we actually don't care whether others see us as lazy buggers. But what gets us really, really annoyed is others taking issue with our autonomy, insist that we also work at fixed hours, and basically making our overworked lives harder than it already is.

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