It’s December 2020, and many people across Europe are, once again, back to working from home. Many others have not seen their offices since Spring. For some it is a blessing, for others a curse. One thing is certain: we’ve all acquired some new routines, habits and skills while trying to make the situation more bearable. How has it been for young Europeans? E&M wants to share different experiences of working remotely, and so we asked our network of readers and contributors to share their thoughts with us.  

Half of the people we asked said they are happy to continue working remotely, while only a third said they would like to go back to their office. What people miss the most? The lunches, the colleagues, the chats… just daily interaction with humans instead of screens.

What do you miss the most about not being able to work in your office?

Anna: Social interactions with co-workers and cycling to the office.

Thomas: To have personal contact with my colleagues.

SN: Conditions like a proper desk and chair and a double screen.

Giorgio: Brainstorming is easier in the office. Also to be able to read other people’s expressions during meetings.

And what do you like the most about working from home?

Momo: To have more flexibility and a better work-life balance, and to be able to use my own PC-setup.

Sofia: It is more comfortable.

Mengmeng: I can eat at any time I want.

Valmergi: I can sleep longer.

Emin Yigit: I don’t have to wake up too early. I can cook at home or share the food that is already made.

What bothers you about working from home? What are your challenges?

Claudia: To make sure I make time for short breaks and a lunch-break every day.

Thomas: My chair and desk are not as comfortable as at the office.

Sofia: I get too lazy.

Valmergi: To stay alone all day, and working, eating, sleeping in the same place – although in different rooms.

Giorgio: It is difficult to start and finish off the working day, because I don’t travel to work anymore.

Momo: There is renovation going on in my apartment building. Also sometimes it is hard to shut off from work.

SN: The work conditions at home are not as proper. Also, some work discussions would be easier if done in person.

Emin Yigit: There are more distractions due to household issues. I may be the only one in the house to deal with this.

However, there is some light among all these challenges. 75% of the Young Europeans we asked said that working remotely had become easier since the pandemic started.

How has working remotely changed for you over the last months, and why?

Anna: I loved it at the beginning; now I feel that I would prefer to have some days at the office and others at home.

Valmergi: I think it’s very easy now as we have access to everything from home.

Claudia: It’s pretty much the same to me, since I already worked from home 2 days a week (before the pandemic) and almost all my main daily contacts are abroad (which means a lot of conference calls).

Giorgio: In summer, it was very enjoyable, because I could go for walks or even work outside. Now during winter it’s cold and depressing.

SN: Communication tools in my company have improved a lot, given the investment made to make them work properly.

Alex: Before the pandemic, working from home wasn’t well-considered in my company, and now we all do it.

What habits and routines did you adapt to make working from home more comfortable for you? Has it helped you?

Emin Yigit: Sometimes I create space and time for myself during working hours, and complete my work at midnight. That made things more comfortable for me, as I can do things that I wouldn’t do if I was working in the office – for example taking online courses.

Giorgio: I start the day with a morning walk. It helps.

Momo: In the beginning of the pandemic, I started meditating before work, to replace the commute and get into the vibe, and it really helped. But I got lazy and rarely do it now.

Mengmeng: I keep a positive mindset.

Claudia: I do 5 to 10 minutes of stretching exercises before lunch to avoid posture and back issues (done daily), and I make sure to have a lunch break everyday. I also do yoga in my living room at the end of the day (3 times a week).

Could you briefly describe how a typical day of working from home looks like for you?

Cat: First, I get myself and my family ready for the day, and take the kids to school. Then I come back, log in and start working. We swap the drop-offs and pick-ups of the kids when possible.

SN: I wake up 15 minutes before my first meeting, which is usually at 9:30. After the meeting, I get the urgent work done, then take a shower and have breakfast. I continue with the work throughout the day, usually with several meetings in between.

Thomas: I wake up at 7:15. I read the news and have breakfast. I start work at 9:00 in the living room. I have lunch. Then I finish working around 17:30-18:00 and arrange everything I have to do.

Emin Yigit: I wake up 20 minutes before starting work, 10 minutes for breakfast and 5-10 minutes for a shower. I work, I have some snacks, I check the news from time to time, I have lunch and take a nap for 20 minutes. Then I go back to work until the evening.

Have you gotten additional support to make working from home more convenient, for example a better chair or mental health resources?

Anna: Only some hardware.

Emin Yigit: No, my employer hasn’t provided anything. .

Claudia: Yes, €250 to buy physical items (office furniture and hardware). And some additional meetings.

Giorgio: No.

Thomas: We have some additional meetings.

Alex: Not yet.

Cat: Yes, they have.

Cover photo: Mikey Harris (Unsplash), Unsplash licence

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    Thoughts and experiences of young Europeans from across the continent.

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