We’re kicking off our new blog with a five-part series from Ava Chisling, media lawyer and award-winning author, editor and advertising copywriter.
The first two posts appeared on July 18, 2022. With the balance coming over the next two weeks.
Follow along as Ava examines the link between life, work, and happiness for legal professionals.
Does where you work affect your productivity?
Just about all of our choices tell us something about who we are. The clothes we wear. The car we drive (or don’t). The contents of our homes. And even, some might say, the company we keep. But when it comes to work, our choices are generally pretty limited. This could be because most of us are never asked what kind of workspace or work culture we would prefer, what would work best for us as individuals. For our particular tasks. And in the end, you find yourself working in a way that was created for you, not by you. That is how most offices were run.
And then covid hit.
And we set up at home.
And in an instant, all the office norms you were trained to follow became useless. Your office itself became useless. This was our new reality. We would now work among our things and our loved ones. The spaces were our own to design. We sat where we wanted. We dressed how we wanted. We worked when we wanted. And with the physical distance between you and your bosses, co-workers and clients, the tasks you were given were often more concise, with no one looking over your shoulder to check how you accomplished each one.
Our spaces were reclaimed. Our work life was reclaimed.
Now that a few years have passed, let’s take a look at how we did – and how we’re doing.
The studies that examined how we adapted to the new work from home (WFH) reality mostly point to the same conclusion: We love it. We work better. We live better. We produce more. We are more satisfied with our jobs. And the work itself. This study from April, 2022, for example, found that fully 90% of the 2,050 full time workers surveyed said they were as productive or more working remotely when compared to the office. And this study tracked more than 30,000 workers every month as of May 2020. The researchers found that 40% of workers reported they were more productive at home during the pandemic than they had been in the office.
Contrary to the view expressed in this recent opinion piece in @CanLawMag, written by senior lawyer Fernando Garcia, WFH is not a trend that lawyers have to get over – and everyone in the legal profession can absolutely work effectively out of the office. And in it. Both.
WFH can be summed up this way: Employers want productive employees. Clients want productive professionals. And professionals want to produce good, satisfying work and live happy lives. Given this, working from home is indeed a win. What is most interesting, however, is why this is the case? And unlike what you may think, it’s not because your couch is more comfortable than your office chair or that your pajamas are more comfy than your suit, however true both may be.
It’s because it is the control you have over your own space that matters. Not the space itself.
These past few years have taught us that we are happier, more effective and get greater satisfaction from our work when WE decide where and how and when our work gets done. So it’s not being around your puppy that makes you more productive working from home (don’t @ us!). It’s that all the tools and all the rules are yours. And when we have the freedom to use both at our discretion, we work better. It’s as simple as that.
However, keep in mind, the opposite is true. A lack of control over your work can lead to burnout and stress. It can lead to a sense of powerlessness. So wanting control over your work and space is not location-specific. It is human-specific. We like to decide what is best for ourselves and get it done.
Even if working from home is not your thing, or not possible, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the lessons learned over these past few years. Finding ways to incorporate your wants and needs into how you work will help you be more productive. And make you happier with the results – yes, even in an office.