“Experience is the teacher of all things.” Julius Caesar

With remote working becoming increasingly common, a bulk of social interactions at the workplace are lost and they are difficult to replicate online. Without these face to face interactions, we tend to feel pressured to be perceived as active as we can in other ways – being constantly active on work chats, attending non-compulsory meetings or even answering emails late at night. This approach to work can cause fatigue as well as affect work quality over time.

So how did we all miraculously make do with the new norm for the past year and a half?

We did a cheeky poll last week on our Linkedin to find out if the community prefers WFH or WFO (Working From Office), and here are the results.



As expected, the majority chose WFH. With the recent news that workers will start returning to offices, most companies will be implementing hybrid work arrangements. The work environment is sure to feel different than what it was a year ago, and it might not be a bad thing after all.

No matter if you are Team WFH or Team WFO, let’s discuss a little bit about what we learnt after a year and a half of working from home.

Here are the 5 lessons we can bring forward to improve our work life in the office.

1. There is no such thing as Over Communicating

A lot has been said about Communication. It’s a word that we have been constantly hearing throughout the past year.

According to a Holmes report, the cost of poor communication has hit an overwhelming $37 billion. Additionally, 400 surveyed corporations estimated that communication barriers cost the average organization $62.4 million per year in lost productivity. In contrast, this same report found that companies with leaders who possess effective communication skills produced a 47 percent higher return to shareholders over a five year period.

Over Communicating may sound counterintuitive. But when done correctly, over communication can help leaders reinforce important messages, assist employees in retaining key information, and ensure that everyone hears and understands the message. In other words, over communication helps prevent misunderstandings, keeps key information top of mind, and makes sure everyone is on the same page.

Ever heard of the phrase “Cooperation over confrontation”? Without consistent, clear, and regular communication, important details can get lost in the shuffle and employees may end up feeling ignored, undervalued, or confused. Communicating with regular updates and check-ins and reinforcing messaging through follow-ups will help you avoid misunderstandings, keep morale high amidst uncertainty, and transition through change more smoothly.

2. Be Flexible

In a recent survey by TalkTalk, over 50% of employees reported an increase in their productivity since working from home. This same study estimated that when given the flexibility to plan their work, workers were achieving five days’ worth of work in just four days.
For many employees, working from home has enabled them to maintain a better overall work-life balance, allowing many to spend more time with their families as well as eliminating the time they normally spend to commute to work. While the absence of office distractions can enable a much more productive working environment, the home also provides many distractions of its own, from noisy neighbours, housemates, partners, children to pets.

More and more companies like Facebook and Microsoft have declared that there might be a likelihood that workplace flexibility is going to be an ongoing trend that they will be cultivating moving forward. Giving employees the flexibility to carry out work according to their needs – taking charge of their time, balancing out personal and professional obligations throughout the day is believed to lead to more successful outcomes.

3. Balance is key

While many of us may be more productive, this has not been the case for everyone. Though 45% of employees surveyed by the Royal Society for Public Health felt that working from home was overall better for their wellbeing, 29% stated that their new working arrangement was worse for them.

A number of participants felt less connected to their colleagues, while others experienced an increase in mental health issues, reported drops in physical activity and disturbed sleep patterns. A quarter of the participants mentioned that for the past year, they have been working from their sofa or bed, which led them to develop musculoskeletal problems.
The biggest downside to working from home is the risk of staff burnout. With up to 40% of remote workers reporting a difficulty in switching off at home, the boundaries of work-life balance are deeply affected.

It’s not all about the “hustle life” now. Employees must learn to listen to their body and rest when needed. Ever caught yourself gobbling down lunch while working on your tasks? Studies show that taking a lunch break allows your mind to rest, recharge and refocus, which can directly improve your productivity for the rest of the day. Taking time out during the day, even if you choose to have multiple, short breaks, gives your brain a chance to recuperate.

In short, even in a remote working model, employers must maintain their duty of care towards the health and wellbeing of their employees. As these major concerns face remote teams, it is clear that no future remote model can thrive without prioritizing employee wellbeing.

4. Empathy

Empathy should be something applicable to everyone in the workplace. Empathizing is something easier said than done. Everyone’s environment and circumstances are different. With everything being a little more personal in a remote working environment, collaborating with remote workers to customize work schedules and structures is vital.

Because we are not in close physical proximity with our colleagues, we sometimes forget that we are also working with people who have their own lives, families, and problems. We may get caught up in our personal situation and neglect to pay attention to how others may be feeling. In other words, we forget to treat others with empathy. When a lack of empathy exists, remote workplace problems have the potential to increase. In addition to causing conflict and pain, these problems may impact team productivity and the company’s bottom line.

Without empathy, building trust can lag. This leads to individuals feeling uncertain about their place and unwilling to speak up. Without trust, the remote workplace will experience disharmony, as well as less innovation and risk-taking.


5. Invest in Digital Training

Long after the lockdowns are over, one effect of the pandemic will be the permanent changes to traditional modes of learning, communicating and working in the modern world. I believe we will see a shift in mindset about what “training” really means and how it can be delivered. There might be a new openness about the development of digital skills and ultimately a more inclusive approach to how the technologies we use to train ourselves get chosen in the workplace.

We all now realize the importance of digitalization in the workplace. Enabling digital training is one of the ways to help your employees feel supported and motivated. Creating a digital support system where they can learn from their peers and invest in their own development and progress will help them feel less “stuck”, in turn helping them cope with work and the stress caused by the pandemic.

All in all

It is eye-opening to see how the pandemic, for the better or worse, has changed and will continue to affect so many aspects of our lives. While it is almost time for us to return to the office, albeit not 100%, there are valuable lessons to be learnt from working from home that we can take with us as we move towards a hybrid workplace.