If you’ve changed jobs recently, you’ve probably been dealing with a flood of new people to meet, office culture to figure out, and terminology to learn. Where is conference room 425? Which one is the “good” bathroom? Why doesn’t the coffee maker turn on when you flip the switch? And why do people keep emailing you that they’re WFH? What does WFH mean?
Today, we’ll help you by answering one of those things. Unfortunately, it’s not the one about the coffee machine; you’ll probably have to ask someone about that in person.
What Does WFH Mean?
WFH is a common workplace acronym meaning “work from home” or “working from home,” depending on the context. When you see an email from a coworker or a social media post from a friend stating that they are WFH for the day, that means they will be working remotely rather than commuting to the office.
WFH can work differently and follow different rules and expectations depending on the workplace and job function of those who opt for it.
WFH vs. WAH vs. OOO
WAH and OOO are two acronyms quite similar to WFH, which you may have seen in similar contexts.
WAH stands for “work at home” or “working at home.” It is a synonym for WFH that can be used interchangeably. You may also see more playful takes on WFH, such as WFA (working from the airport) and WFB (working from my backyard).
OOO is an abbreviation for “out of office.” This term is a little broader and can describe someone working remotely, taking time off, or combining the two.
Temporary vs. Permanent WFH
Not all WFH arrangements are the same. Company rules, team culture, and individual contracts may play a role in someone’s remote work setup.
Many people who WFH primarily commute to their office for in-person work, and reserve the right to telecommute occasionally for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Minor illness and not wanting to infect coworkers
- Caring for a sick family member
- Receiving an at-home delivery that can only occur during work hours
- Weather and other unsafe driving conditions
- Mental health concerns
- Personal preference
The rules around remote work will vary from one company to another or even between departments. When possible, WFH days like these serve as an excellent bridge for people who are physically able to work but unable to come into the office on certain days.
Some people WFH permanently, meaning that they are full-time remote employees who may not even have a “main” office to commute to. Others work a hybrid schedule, working a set number of WFH days and in-office days per week.
Many employers are quick to remind their employees that the freedom to WFH, either on a fixed or case-by-case basis, is a privilege, not a right. It behooves everyone to take this privilege seriously and be a good WFH citizen.
Specific WFH guidelines will vary from one team to another, but here are a few general things that anyone working remotely should keep in mind:
Understand expectations ahead of time. Understanding how your team and bosses treat WFH days before you take one can prevent a variety of workplace . For instance, do you need to ask permission ahead of time? Do you need to have a specific justification, or will “I would rather work from home today” suffice?
Be available, visible, and transparent. Communicate early and often about what you’re working on, what progress you’re making, and what challenges you’re encountering. You don’t want your coworkers and bosses guessing about what you’ve been getting up to all day. However your team communicates, do your best to be online and reachable when people are looking for you.
It’s not a day off. The freedom to work from home is an act of trust on your employer’s behalf. If you treat working from home as an opportunity to do nothing all day, you betray that trust and risk ruining this work flexibility perk for everyone.
Benefits of WFH
There is no shortage of reasons people love to have the freedom to work remotely.
Telecommuting rather than driving or taking public transit to work cuts commuting time and cost down to zero. This lack of travel saves some people two hours or more each day. In addition, simplified morning and evening routines often reduce this cost even further.
Some people also find that they are much more productive when working from home. Free from workplace distractions and full of the comfort of being in your own home, many people can get their work done faster and more effectively in their home office.
It is challenging for any workspace to compete with the simple comfort of being at home. More time around family in a familiar and cozy work environment makes many people feel happier and is one of the biggest appeals of a WFH day.
Working from home also poses inherent challenges that might make it not the best option for everyone.
For instance, communication between coworkers can become more difficult when one or more team members are working remotely. This barrier is why intentional communication is essential to a successful WFH relationship, as we mentioned above.
Boundaries can also be problematic when working remotely. With the capability to work from home anytime, many remote workers struggle to uphold a clear work-life balance, often leading to WFH burnout.
Remote work poses a distinct challenge for extroverts who thrive on face-to-face contact with others. For those of us who feel energized from interacting with people, video calls, conferencing, and instant messaging apps may leave more than a little to be desired.
Mastering the WFH Life
Choosing WFH may not be for everyone, even among those with the option. There are inherent challenges, as well as personal preferences. But on the whole, the freedom and flexibility to work from home is a fantastic opportunity for many workers.
If you have the choice to WFH at your current job, either on a fixed schedule or a case-by-case basis, congratulations! It is an amazing perk that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In all cases, don’t forget to be considerate of your coworkers, communicate clearly, and bring your whole self to your work, wherever you choose to do it.