There are definitely upsides to working from home, but there are downsides too. We asked PRs what they find most difficult about being out of the office, plus we include our own ‘pet’ hate!
1. No proper human interaction
Sally Maier-Yip, founder and managing director of marketing agency 11K Consulting: “What I hate most about working from home is that we cannot have spontaneous conversations or creativity sparked from speaking to colleagues and clients 'randomly' in an office environment or during a coffee or lunch conversation. Everything is structured, planned and expected in a WFH environment. It is just not the same to try to make a joke or have a relaxing conversation over a zoom or Teams call. Equally, it is so hard to build 100% trust with a new contact in a WFH environment. We still need face-to-face human interactions to build long-term trust and create real fun with real people in person!”
2. Being ‘on’ 24/7
Lottie Hutchins, account manager at agency Touchdown PR: "For me, it's feeling compelled to always be ‘on’ and exist on emails 24/7. I am not one who can easily turn off my at-work responsibilities, and blurred lines of work and home isn't a helpful notion.
“It's more important than ever to not only recognise, but actualise, work-life balance, and practise self care. Particularly for agency PRs, who often find ourselves working fast and furiously, overworking and overstressing is a bad habit many of us struggle to kick. I'm a big believer that being ‘busy’ isn't a badge of honour, and the ability to switch off is an underrated skill.
“We are a resilient bunch, and we can work well with a healthy dose of stress. But, I feel the constant working from home and lack of human connection has us feeling dejected, disconnected and discombobulated. Don't get me wrong, I'm not sure I am ready to be thrust back into an office full-time, but I have to say I am very much looking forward to a hybrid workplace model and a more flexible future for PR."
3. Not being able to decompress
Gavin Finney, head of content at agency Aduro Communications: “I now understand what scuba divers and astronauts mean by decompression, and why it’s so essential. Because for the last 430 or so days – who’s counting? – I haven’t had any. Or rather, I have, but it’s lasted 0.2 seconds and simply involved opening a door. Work hat off, dad hat on, and two sweet little girls, who have no idea what a pandemic is, or why mummy and daddy aren’t as fun as they used to be, hurl themselves at me and need dinner, a bath, a story, a missing teddy bear report filing, or any combination of the above. I smile, but it chips away at you. I can’t wait to be back in an office to see people, to brainstorm properly and to have something different for lunch, but more than anything, I’m looking forward to seeing my kids again.”
4. Home wear
Melissa Powell, vice president at marketing agency FINN Partners (London): “Working from home may have its perks – saying a temporary farewell to the daily commute has forced me to exercise my culinary skills every night because I have more time to cook something a little more adventurous for dinner.
“However, it’s not without its downsides – firstly, the frequency of wearing elasticated waistbands means I’ve forgotten how to dress nicely so my PR attire is now more Bridget Jones than Samantha Jones (no offence, Bridget).”
5. Video calls
Melissa Powell: Most importantly, I really miss the personal connections; seeing my colleagues’ beautiful faces in 3D, the after-work drinks, the office banter and peering over my desk to ask someone a quick question rather than having to video call them. I can’t wait for a time when we’re back in the office attending real life meetings without someone declaring ‘You’re on mute!’ (Yes that’s right, a year later it still happens).”
6. Outside noise
Lucy I’Anson, communications director at agency Mongoose Sports & Entertainment: “I live on a high street so just the general noise of my current working space, including, the traffic and general clatter from all essential businesses, takeaways, off licences, coffee shops and building merchants. I’ve certainly noticed home improvements have been a big thing during lockdown with flat renovations providing a constant background noise of banging and drilling, with only my own thoughts or music to drown them out and more importantly no colleagues or clients to moan with over a nice glass of wine!”
7. Virtual pitching
Lucy L’Anson: “During this period, we have won two new clients without actually meeting them in person. Face-to-face meetings can be stressful but I do miss the adrenaline of pitching and seeing reactions, alongside post work celebrations of new business – I am aware there is a theme emerging here! Most surprisingly, I have become a bit of an IT wizard now that I can’t blame IT for connection issues, which has meant that the recent pitch processes have been more organised and far more tech focused than before.”
8. Being stuck indoors
Lucy L’Anson: “Working with The North Face, we are a pretty active office, so it has been frustrating not to go on adventures or visit them in the mountains of Switzerland. But oddly enough aside from my normal exercise routine, I actually even miss the commute to work (all 90 minutes of it!) for the mandatory exercise it provides, alongside the Vitamin D when the sun does shine on rare occasions. At the moment, I feel like a granny with the number of supplements I take as a result!
9. Time wasting
Harry Webster, associate director at agency Champion Communications: “The thing I hate most about working from home is that every decision seems to require a half-an-hour or hour-long conversation. There is no quick collaboration between colleagues whilst making a coffee, and you can’t bounce ideas off of one another when you have a sudden creative spark – whether that be for a new client campaign or just a pitch idea on the day’s news. In the age of Zoom, Teams etc., everything seems to require a meticulously planned call, that is always stuck in the diary for a minimum of 30 minutes, when in person it would take two.”
10. Demanding pets
As I sit and write this I have a cat sitting on my lap. Lovely for ten minutes, but after an hour it gets a big uncomfortable. I almost wish the cat would indulge in her other favourite past-time, walking on the keyboard!
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