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What Does WFH Mean?

by: Shiv Sharma
What Does WFH Mean?

WFH is an informal acronym for “work from home.” It refers to the practice of doing professional work at home instead of going to the office. It’s a subset of the larger phenomenon of remote work/telecommuting. 

WFH is often used interchangeably with remote work because the vast majority of remote workers work from their homes. The images of coconut sipping digital nomads on the beach with their Macbooks don’t reflect the real picture. According to Gitlab’s remote work survey, 86% of remote workers work from home. 

History of WFH

One of the most quoted statements of 2020 is that “remote work is the future of work.” We sometimes forget that it has also been its past. 

The idea of traveling to a faraway place to work and then commute back is a relatively new concept that stemmed from the industrial revolution. From hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers to craftsmen and local businesses, for thousands of years, most of us worked from home.  While the explosion of IT tools and cloud technology has made it possible to do a lot of our modern knowledge work remotely, it’s unfair to attribute the origin of WFH to it. Working from home is as natural to humans as eating and sleeping. 

Impact of COVID-19 on WFH

While the interest in working from home had been growing since the beginning of the 21st century, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made it mainstream. It has compelled even the more traditional organizations to create a WFH policy. It seems that the vast majority will make remote work the norm even after the end of the pandemic. According to a report by PwC, the majority of the UK staff will continue to work remotely after the pandemic. Another report by Buffer states that 98% of people who try remote work will continue to work remotely (at least for some time) for the rest of their careers. 

It’s fair to say that while COVID-19 has forced many organizations to go remote, most will not regress to an obsessive on-site work culture when things get normal. 

How to search for WFH/remote jobs?

Remote work opens unparalleled opportunities. Global hiring was once considered an exclusive privilege of multinational juggernauts. Now, even seed-stage startups are tapping into talent from all corners of the globe.  

I am writing this blog post from India for an American company, and my editor lives in Bangkok. This would have been unfathomable a few decades ago. Many companies are increasingly hiring remote employees. Some are 100% distributed, which means all their employees are remote. 

In this post, Flexjobs shares the 20 most popular WFH titles. The list is dominated by IT roles such as UI/UX Designers, Engineers, Data Analysts, and Web Developers. However, it also has many jobs that weren’t traditionally associated with remote work such as Nurses, Teachers, and Project Managers. 

To look for a remote job, try using the remote/work from home filters on job sites such as LinkedIn and Angel.co. Some sites like Angel.co inform you if the open remote position is open worldwide to applicants or some specific locations. You can also filter based on full-time and part-time positions. There are close to 150K open remote jobs on LinkedIn as I write this post. 

Is WFH burnout a thing?

Anyone who has worked remotely knows that WFH burnout is a real problem. Multiple studies have shown that remote workers end up working longer hours than their on-site counterparts. Working from home compels you to set your boundaries between work and time away from it. This takes some practice. On top of that, many remote teams also have to manage timezone differences, which makes it difficult to follow one strict schedule. 

There is no one pill to solve this problem. It depends on your remote culture and profile. But there are a few tips to address the WFH burnout that would work for most people:

  • Plan and communicate your work schedule. Inform your colleagues about your working hours during which you are reachable. Don’t let eight hours of work spill over to the entire day. 
  • Similarly, don’t message your colleagues after their work hours unless there is an emergency.
  • Find your deep work sweet spot. You’ll be amazed at how much work you can get done in it. For example, I have found that I can get more work done in the first three hours of my day than the rest. So I try not to have meetings or calls during that time. 

Finding a home for WFH

Digital nomads have already been trotting the globe to work remotely. However, their focus has been on travel and not long stays. The remote work revolution has created a new breed of professionals who are open to living abroad for extended periods. That’s why a lot of countries are creating new visas, especially for remote workers. Here are a few examples:

  • Barbados – 12-month welcome stamp
  • Bermuda – 12 months
  • Portugal – 12 months
  • Spain – 12 months
  • Mexico – Up to four years

More countries will likely follow the trend once the world recovers from the aftershocks of the pandemic.  

What is a good WFH tool?

One fundamental difference between the modern-day and pre-industrial era WFH is that we now have to collaborate with people who are far from us. That’s why every distributed team needs a tool to collaborate effectively. 

The nature of the tool depends on the team. For example, if it’s a team of UX designers and developers working on a project, Figma or Invision are great options. Similarly, for a team of salespeople, a sales pipeline tool like Pipedrive would be good for internal collaboration. 

If the entire organization is looking for an online workspace, then they generally use a combination of project management tools and team messaging (Asana, Slack, etc.) or an all-in-one collaboration tool like Taskworld that offers both workflow management and communication. 

If your team is working from home and looking for a virtual home, sign up on Taskworld for free. Manage your projects, get reports, and communicate with your team in one place.

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