Wherever I Lay My Hat

Wherever I Lay My Hat

I have never been much of a trendsetter.

But in recent months, I have found myself suddenly and unexpectedly to be on trend. It feels strange.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced changes onto both organizations and their employees. Now many people around the world are working at home in the name of self-isolation and social distancing.

I am far ahead of the pack. For nearly a decade now, I have been working remotely, mainly in my beloved home office. It suits me very well. I certainly don’t miss my daily commute on the notoriously packed Denentoshi line, a twice-a-day feature of my early working life in Tokyo.

I also don’t miss spending most of my working days in seemingly unnecessary internal meetings. Or the related office politics. 

In my home office, I can get my work done as I see fit, rather than following someone else’s idea of how, where and when tasks should be completed. 

One of the real advantages of working from home is that you don’t necessarily have to be there. With the Club only a 10-minute walk away, it’s the place I go to hold meetings and when I need to be around people. Sometimes I take a little trip to my weekend place on the coast and work from there, taking in the view of the palm tree-lined boardwalk below and Mount Fuji in the distance. 

Remote working means I can base myself anywhere I fancy. Wherever I lay my hat is where I work. So long as I have a comfortable spot to sit, with access to decent coffee, I can get on with my job. This past winter, I spent time working from a ski resort in Niigata (admittedly, I did hit the slopes and enjoy the local hot springs as well). 

As someone who was once admonished for not wearing a tie in a meeting (yes, I admit it, I was an investment banker), I am very content with my home office’s nonexistent dress code. My battle dress of choice is relaxed. Sure, occasionally I need to suit up for a meeting, but most days I’m attired in chinos and a carefully selected rock band tee.

Like hats, working from home is not for everyone. Some people are wired in a such way that they require a rigid work structure. They need to don a work uniform and be in an office for specified hours.

Will the teleworking trend prevail in the long term? Who knows? Hopefully, more organizations and people will see the advantages of a more flexible approach to work. Should remote working become the new normal, at least partially, society as a whole will benefit. Besides the reduced congestion on roads and public transport and improved productivity, more people will enjoy a healthier balance to their lives.

Remote working faces some resistance as—unlike in many offices—employees working at home have nowhere to hide. Inefficient, lazy and incompetent staff will quickly be revealed and simply won’t survive this evolution. While their jobs disappear, I will go about my business, proudly refusing to be a cubicle monkey.

Words: Stefan Nilsson
Illustration: Tania Vicedo