When not everything goes as planned at your home office

When not everything goes as planned at your home office

A marketing communication agency cooperating with IMSA International Executive Search proposed the preparation of a global report regarding trends and changes, which senior managers will be facing in 2019. For this purpose, my partners from 23 countries and I were to prepare material containing our forecasts for the upcoming year. One of the areas indicated by me which could foresee difficulties in the upcoming period is the management of teams of employees offering remote work. In today’s article I would like to touch upon the difficulties that an employee faces in their  home office. Let’s have a look at this, based on my example. This is what it looks like – more or less.

Tuesday, 7:30 am. Why did I wake up so late? Well, because I knew that I am in my home office today and I didn’t have to rush to work stuck in traffic to meet with Candidates. I can calmly get up, eat breakfast, get ready and take my daughter to pre-school. I have time – I keep thinking, I have time.

Unfortunately, I very quickly become aware how wrong I was. At 9:00 am I planned a Skype call with a partner in Australia. There is a 10 hour time difference between us. It would behoove me not to be late, all the more so since he is devoting his private time to talk to me. What a weird concept that you can get ready to leave the house in an hour?! I beg my daughter Zosia to help Me (Mommy) and to put on her shoes in the blink of an eye, because we are horribly late. “Mom, you are always in a hurry” – I hear in response. She is only 3.5 years old, but I really think I just saw her rolling the eyes and sighing as everything falls out of my hands from being in a frenzy. We run of the house at 8:45 am. Luckily I am wearing sneakers so I can be fast on my feet. I feel like Wonder Woman, running at the speed of light to the garage. However, after catching up to a hoard of cars, I quickly go back to human form. I can’t beat the traffic, regardless of the type of footwear I have on.

I am nervously tapping the steering wheel listening to Jingle Bells for this sixth time, which will be played next week during the Christmas pageants in pre-school. Zosia is practicing the refrain in the back seat. I try to join her, but she tells me that she prefers to sing alone. I already know I will never make it back on time for my Skype call. So I go into crisis solution mode, meaning – a Skype call from my mobile in the car.

I get Zosia to pre-school, and I sit back in the car by myself and call Australia. The connection is good, despite the lack of wi-fi. The discussion is very productive and takes place in a very pleasant atmosphere. My interlocutor shows a great deal of understanding regarding the place I am calling from, or is simply very courteous, and does not comment on it. All of a sudden I hear banging on the window of my car. A man in a gray hat is signaling me to open my window. He’s got to be kidding – I think to myself. I discreetly gesture him that this is not going to happen. I add two super fast head movements to this, which look like a nervous twitch, but this was the only thing I could come up with to make him aware of the fact that I am already holding one conversation, and I cannot participate in another. Apparently, he already knows this, but has no intention of leaving. I see from his expression, that he has an internal imperative to blurt out several sentences, which he prepared prior to knocking on my window. I see that I have no choice. I apologize to Australia and open the window, trying to maintain a poker face. What do I hear? Its because of “people like me” that he has no place to park when bringing his child to pre-school. The worst part about this – he is right. I would literally choke “people like me” who sit in their cars outside the pre-school and scroll through the screens on their phones. But, I am doing this for the first time! But there was no way he could know that. There is no sense in escalating this situation. I apologize, explain that this is an special situation and that I understand where he is coming from. Next I try to continue my conversation with Australia, trying at the same time not to die of shame.

I make it back home at 10:15 am. Since I am in home office today, I will do some fast shopping at the grocery store. I will not have to do it in the evening. In fact all I need to buy is bread, cottage cheese and an avocado. I don’t need anything else, the fridge is full. At 11:00 am I get back to the apartment overloaded with bags. I have no idea what made me buy so much.

I sit down to my computer at 11:30 am. I download dozens of emails that have made their way into my inbox since the morning. I reply to the most important ones, then I suddenly feel that I am getting hungry. The fridge is dangerously close by. I make myself a sandwich and just before swallowing the last bite my eyes look towards the floor in the living room. Geez, how much kitty litter did the cat bring in! I can’t work in such a mess. I grab the vacuum and do the whole apartment.

Satisfied I sit back down at the computer. I review a report on a Candidate that my consultant wrote. Suddenly the sun comes out from behind the clouds. Gosh, how is it possible that I didn’t see it earlier? The windows which extend right down to the floor are covered in dozens of small hand prints. I run to the bathroom for some window spray. I will get this done in 3 minutes.

It is now coming upon 1:00 pm. Enough is enough. The deadline for sending a short list of Candidates is today. I have to get to work immediately. I work like crazy for the next 1.5 hours. The silence in the apartment is broken by the tapping of fingers against the computer keyboard. I have checked over two reports, I have replied to more emails. I think I will have a cup of tea – I say to myself. Maybe I will munch on something as well? Working in an office I very often forget about lunch, and now – I will simply make it. I am happy to have had a warm, home-cooked meal. My home office is awesome!

It is now coming upon 3:00 PM. How did it get so late? I sit back down to the computer and being conversation through Skype that was prearranged. I am talking to a candidate from Krakow. I ask her a lot of questions regarding her professional results. I am very focused, I am trying to assess, as much as possible, whether she is effective in completing objectives. Deep inside I am happy that I am in my office at home. Everything looks very professional and I am certain that no one is going to bother me.

Then I hear the intercom calling. This is not happening… It’s probably the mail carrier or the courier. What do I do? I know that the intercom will ring lengthily two more times. Then the courier will ring the building door and then my apartment door. I smile apologetically to the Candidate and ask for a 5 minute break, as someone I trying to get into the office. Of course, into the office…

At 4:15 pm I am at the computer and I see 42 new emails. The short list of Candidates, which I have to send by the end of the day, is not yet ready. I have 15 minutes left, then I need to run to pick up my daughter from kindergarten. I am trying to plan my evening. I have to catch up with everything.

On my way to kindergarten, I am listening to music with the face of a sad dog. My day was exactly like the title of a Muse song, which is piping out through the speakers – “Madness”. I come to the sad conclusion that I am not meant to work in a home office. I work much more efficiently in an office. But why? Joshua Homme, vocalist of Queens of the Stone Age, just sang “No one knows”.

Monika Ciesielska
President at IMSA Search Global Partners. An experienced consultant in the recruitment of the management staff, including board members, and a leader of the recruiting team in the IT/Tech area. Enthusiast of digital transformation of HR processes. Podcaster at "Skrzydlaty HR" and "Top Leaders Club".
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