Getting Your Home to Work

Seventeen months is a long time. Long enough for one to make behavioural changes. And long enough to see the effects of a slow transformation. Like muscle gain from a training program or weight loss from a new way of cooking.

The people we’ve studied experienced episodes of transition that lasted weeks and even months of time.

Sudden changes that later crystallised as routine, or habit. New work at home habits emerged, and many of them became appreciated and cherished. Mostly, seventeen months is long enough that it can tuck away all that was felt or experienced during this intense period of being productive at home.

It is easy to recall specific events and feelings, but underlying motives and the triggers that required someone to change fade once the change was made. What was radically new now seems natural enough. Still, the blurring of boundaries can mask the many bumps we run into as we zig and zag from home to work and back again.

How we switch productivity on and off, can be thought of by whether we feel at work or feel at home.

A new shift presented itself in 2021. According to Gallup, the number of people who thought that the best way to deal with the pandemic was to stay at home, versus going out into the world, and it flipped. As we made significant headway, markers of endurance and despair found in the media such as “how long can this go on?” shifted to “how ready are you to re-enter?” the working office world.

In a previous post we drew attention to previous bargains one makes with the world. Such as driving an SUV in the stop and go traffic of a superhighway. A two hour train commute from home to work, and back the same day. Or the silent drumbeat of meetings that take people from one meeting room to the next on a social form of autopilot. Participants from our studies reported that there’s a lot not to be missed from the old ways of working.

Design in context: How can we help people get their home to work in order to build their own work at home culture?